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“ used as his parents were, that is, with humble per
suasions, and not with contestations.” And Cæsar's counsellor put in the same caveat, “ Non ad vetera “ instituta revocans quæ jampridem corruptis moribus “ ludibrio sunt:" and Cicero noteth this error directly in Cato the second, when he writes to his friend Atticus ; “ Cato optime sentit, sed nocet interdum “ reipublicæ ; loquitur enim tanquam in republica “ Platonis, non tanquam in fæce Romuli.” And the same Cicero doth excuse and expound the philosophers for going too far, and being too exact in their prescripts, when he saith, “ Isti ipsi præceptores “ virtutis et magistri, videntur fines officiorum paulo “ longius quam natura vellet protulisse, ut cum ad ultimum animo contendissemus,ibi tamen, ubi
oportet, consisteremus :” and yet himself might have said, “ Monitis sum minor ipse meis ;” for it was his own fault, though not in so extreme a degree.
Another fault likewise much of this kind hath been incident to learned men; which is, that they have esteemed the preservation, good and honour of their countries or masters before their own fortunes or safeties.
For so saith Demosthenes unto the Athenians : “ If it please you to note it, my counsels “ unto you are not such whereby I should grow great amongst you,
and you become little amongst the “ Grecians : but they be of that nature, as they are “ sometimes not good for me to give, but are always
good for you to follow.” And so Seneca, after he had consecrated that Quinquennium Neronis to the eternal glory of learned governors, held on his honest
and loyal course of good and free counsel, after his master grew extremely corrupt in his government. Neither can this point otherwise be ; for learning endueth men's minds with a true sense of the frailty of their persons, the casualty of their fortunes, and the dignity of their soul and vocation : so that it is impossible for them to esteem that any greatness of their own fortune can be a true or worthy end of their being and ordainment; and therefore are desirous to give their account to God, and so likewise to their masters under God (as kings and the states that they serve) in these words; “ Ecce tibi lucre“ feci,” and not “ Ecce mihi lucrefeci :” whereas the corrupter sort of mere politicians, that have not their thoughts established by learning in the love and apprehension of duty, nor ever look abroad into universality, do refer all things to themselves, and thrust themselves into the centre of the world, as if all lines should meet in them and their fortunes ; never caring, in all tempests, what becomes of the ship of state, so they may save themselves in the cockboat of their own fortune : whereas men that feel the weight of duty, and know the limits of selflove, use to make good their places and duties, though with peril; and if they stand in seditious and violent alterations, it is rather the reverence which many times both adverse parts do give to honesty, than any versatile advantage of their own carriage. But for this point of tender sense, and fast obligation of duty, which learning doth endue the mind withal, howsoever fortune may tax it, and many in the depth of their corrupt principles may despise it, yet it will receive an open allowance, and therefore, needs the less disproof or excusation.
Another fault incident commonly to learned men, which may be more probably defended than truly denied, is, that they fail sometimes in applying themselves to particular persons: which want of exact application ariseth from two causes; the one, because the largeness of their mind can hardly confine itself to dwell in the exquisite observation or examination of the nature and customs of one person: for it is a speech for a lover, and not for a wise man: “ Satis magnum alter alteri theatrum sumus." Nevertheless I shall yield, that he that cannot contract the sight of his mind, as well as disperse and dilate it, wanteth a great faculty. But there is a second cause, which is no inability, but a rejection upon choice and judgment; for the honest and just bounds of observation, by one person upon another, extend no farther but to understand him sufficiently, whereby not to give him offence, or whereby to be able to give him faithful counsel, or whereby to stand upon reasonable guard and caution in respect of a man's self: but to be speculative into another man, to the end to know how to work him or wind him or govern him, proceedeth from a heart that is double and cloven, and not entire and ingenuous; which as in friendship it is want of integrity, so towards princes or superiors is want of duty. For the custom of the Levant, which is, that subjects do forbear to gaze or fix their eyes upon princes, is in
the outward ceremony barbarous, but the moral is good : for men ought not by cunning and bent observations to pierce and penetrate into the hearts of kings, which the Scripture hath declared to be inscrutable.
There is yet another fault (with which I will conclude this part) which is often noted in learned men, that they do many times fail to observe decency and discretion in their behaviour and carriage, and commit errors in small and ordinary points of action, so as the vulgar sort of capacities do make a judgment of them in greater matters by that which they find wanting in them in smaller. But this consequence doth often deceive men, for which I do refer them over to that which was said by Themistocles, arrogantly and uncivilly being applied to himself out of his own mouth; but, being applied to the general state of this question, pertinently and justly; when, being invited to touch a lute, he said, “ he could not
fiddle, but he could make a small town a great “ state.” So, no doubt, many may be well seen in the passages of government and policy, which are to seek in little and punctual occasions. I refer them also to that which Plato said of his master Socrates, whom he compared to the gallypots of apothecaries, which on the outside had apes and owls and antiques, but contained within sovereign and precious liquors and confections ; acknowledging that to an external report he was not without superficial levities and deformities, but was inwardly replenished with excellent virtues and powers. And
so much touching the point of manners of learned
But in the mean time I have no purpose to give allowance to some conditions and courses base and unworthy, wherein divers professors of learning have wronged themselves, and gone too far; such as were those trencher philosophers, which in the later age of the Roman state were usually in the houses of great persons, being little better than solemn parasites; of which kind, Lucian maketh a merry description of the philosopher that the great lady took to ride with her in her coach, and would needs have him carry her little dog, which he doing officiously and yet uncomely, the page scoffed, and said, “ That he doubted, the philosopher of a “ Stoic would turn to be a Cynic.” But above all the rest, the gross and palpable flattery, whereunto many not unlearned have abased and abused their wits and pens, turning, as Du Bartas saith, Hecuba into Helena, and Faustina into Lucretia, hath most diminished the price and estimation of learning. |
Neither is the modern dedication of books and writings, as to patrons, to be commended : for that books, such as are worthy the name of books, ought to have no patrons but truth and reason. And the ancient custom was to dedicate them only to private and equal friends, or to intitle the books with their names; or if to kings and great persons, it was to some such as the argument of the book was fit and
for: but these and the like courses may deproper serve rather reprehension than defence.