« AnteriorContinuar »
A. So I do. The virtue of a subject is comprehended wholly in obedience to the laws of the commonwealth. To obey the laws, is justice and equity, which is the law of nature, and, consequently, is civil law in all nations of the world; and nothing is injustice or iniquity, otherwise, than it is against the law. Likewise, to obey the laws, is the prudence of a subject; for without such obedience the commonwealth (which is every subject's safety and protection) cannot subsist. And though it be prudence also in private men, justly and moderately to enrich themselves, yet craftily to withhold from the public or defraud it of such part of their wealth, as is by law required, is no sign of prudence, but of want of knowledge of what is necessary for their own defence.
The virtues of sovereigns are such as tend to the maintenance of peace at home, and to the resistance of foreign enemies. Fortitude is a royal virtue; and though it be necessary in such private men as shall be soldiers, yet, for other men, the less they dare, the better it is both for the commonwealth and for themselves. Frugality (though perhaps you will think it strange) is also a royal virtue : for it increases the public stock, which cannot be too great for the public use, nor any man too sparing of what he has in trust for the good of others. Liberality also is a royal virtue : for the commonwealth cannot be well served without extraordinary diligence and service of ministers, and great fidelity to their Sovereign; who ought therefore to be encouraged, and especially those that do him service in the wars. In sum, all actions and habits are to be esteemed good or evil by their causes and usefulness in reference to the commonwealth, and not by their mediocrity, nor by their being commended. For several men praise several customs, and that which is virtue with one, is blamed by others; and, contrarily,
what one calls vice, another calls virtue, as their present affections lead them.
B. Methinks you should have placed among the virtues that, which, in my opinion, is the greatest of all virtues, religion.
A. So I have, though, it seems, you did not observe it.
B. WHEN began first the House of Commons to be part of the King's great council ?
A. I do not doubt but that before the Conquest some discreet men, and known to be so by the King, were called by special writ to be of the same council, though they were not lords; but that is nothing to the House of Commons. The knights of shires and burgesses were never called to Parliament, for aught that I know, till the beginning of the reign of Edward I, or the latter end of the reign of Henry III, immediately after the misbehaviour of the barons; and for aught any man knows, were called on purpose to weaken that power of the lords, which they had so freshly abused. Before the time of Henry III, the lords were descended, most of them, from such as in the invasions and conquests of the Germans were peers and fellow-kings, till one was made king of them all; and their tenants were their subjects, as it is at this day with the lords of France. But after the time of Henry III, the kings began to make lords in the place of them whose issue failed, titulary only, without the lands belonging to their title; and by that means, their tenants being no longer bound to serve them in the wars, they grew every day less and less able to make a party against the King, though they continued still to be his great council. And as their power decreased, so the power of the House of Commons increased; but I do not find they were part of the King's council at all, nor judges over other men; though it cannot be denied, but a King may ask their advice, as well as the advice of any other. But I do not find that the end of their summoning was to give advice, but only, in case they had any petitions for redress of grievances, to be ready there with them whilst the King had his great council about him. But neither they nor the lords could present to the King, as a grievance, that the King took upon him to make the laws; to choose his own privy-counsellors; to raise money and soldiers; to defend the peace and honour of the kingdom; to make captains in his army; to make governors of his castles, whom he pleased. For this had been to tell the King, that it was one of their grievances that he was King.
And whereas men divide a body in their thought, by numbering parts of it, and, in numbering those parts, number also the parts of the place it filled; it cannot be, but in making many parts, we also make many places of those parts; whereby there cannot be conceived in the mind of any man, more, or fewer parts, than there are places for: yet they will have us believe, that by the Almighty power of God, one body may be at one and the same time in many places; and many bodies at one and the same time in one place: as if it were an acknowledgment of the Divine Power to say, that which is, is not; or that which has been, has not been. And these are but a small part of the incongruities they are forced to, from their disputing philosophically, instead of admiring, and adoring of the divine and incomprehensible nature ; whose attributes cannot signify what he is, but ought to signify
our desire to honour him, with the best appellations we can think on. But they that venture to reason of his nature, from these attributes of honour, losing their understanding in the very first attempt, fall from one inconvenience into another, without end, and without number; in the same manner, as when a man ignorant of the ceremonies of court, coming into the presence of a greater person than he is used to speak to, and stumbling at his entrance, to save himself from falling, lets slip his cloak; to recover his cloak, lets fall his hat; and with one disorder after another, discovers his astonishment and rusticity.
Then for physics, that is, the knowledge of the subordinate and secondary causes of natural events; they render none at all, but empty words. If you desire to know why some kind of bodies sink naturally downwards toward the earth, and others go naturally from it; the Schools will tell you out of Aristotle, that the bodies that sink downwards, are heavy; and that this heaviness is it that causes them to descend. But if you ask what they mean by heaviness, they will define it to be an endeavour to go to the centre of the earth. So that the cause why things sink downward, is an endeavour to be below: which is as much as to say, that bodies descend, or ascend, because they do. Or they will tell you the centre of the earth is the place of rest, and conservation for heavy things; and therefore they endeavour to be there : as if stones and metals had a desire, or could discern the place they would be at, as man does; or loved rest, as man does not; or that a piece of glass were less safe in the window, than falling into the street.
IZAAK WALTON was born in London, 1593. He followed the trade of a seamster. He married Ann Ken, sister of Dr. Ken, Bishop of Bath and Wells. In 1643 he retired from business with a small competency, and lived partly at Stafford and partly in various families of eminent clergymen, of whom, says Anthony Wood, he was much beloved.
It was during those visits that he collected the information which enabled him to write the lives of Dr. Donne, Sir H. Wotton, Hooker, Herbert, and Bp. Sanderson. His favourite recreation, both while he lived in London and afterwards, was angling, and in 1653 he published “The Complete Angler, or Contemplative Man's Recreation. He lived to a good old age, and died in December, 1683, at Winchester, in the house of Dr. Hawkins, Prebendary of the Cathedral there.
The Complete Angler may be almost said to be an eclogue in prose. It conveys the precepts of the art and the Natural History of our river fish in the form of Dialogue, interspersed with charming pictures of rustic life and rural scenery. Its simplicity, its sweetness, its natural grace, and the fidelity with which it represents the features of English peasant life of the time, will give this book a permanent place in our literature, though the technical instruction belongs to a bye-gone age of angling. The art of angling with the rod is of great antiquity in England, having been practised by clerics before the Reformation, but Walton's Manual, though not the first treatise published, was the first complete collection of the traditions of the 'gentle craft.