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Revenge is a kind of wild justice, which the more man's nature runs to, the more ought law to weed it out: for, as for the first wrong, it doth but offend the law, but the revenge of that wrong putteth the law out of office. Certainly in taking revenge a man is but even with his enemy; but in passing it over he is superior ; for it is a prince's part to pardon; and Solomon, I am sure, saith, “ It is the glory “ of a man to pass by an offence.” That which is past is gone and irrecoverable, and wise men have enough to do with things present and to come; therefore they do but trifle with themselves that labour in past matters. There is no man doth a wrong for the wrong's sake, but thereby to purchase himself profit, or pleasure, or honour, or the like; therefore why should I be angry with a man, for loving himself better than me? and if any man should do wrong merely out of ill-nature, why, yet it is but like the thorn or briar, which prick and scratch because they can do no other. The most tolerable sort of revenge is for those
wrongs which there is no law to remedy: but, then, let a man take heed the revenge be such as there is no law to punish, else a man's enemy is still beforehand, and it is two for
Some when they take revenge are desirous the party should know when it cometh : this is the more generous; for the delight seemeth to be not so much in doing the hurt as in making the party repent: but base and crafty cowards are like the arrow that fieth in the dark. Cosmus, duke of Florence, had a desperate saying against perfidious or neglecting friends, as if those wrongs were unpardonahle. “ You shall read," saith he, " that we are “ commanded to forgive our enemies, but you
never read that we are commanded to forgive
our friends.” But yet the spirit of Job was in a better tune: “Shall we,” saith he, “take good “ at God's hands, and not be content to take “ evil also ?” and so of friends in a proportion. This is certain, that a man that studieth revenge keeps his own wounds green, which otherwise would heal and do well. Public revenges are for the most part fortunate; as that for the death of Cæsar; for the death of Pertinax; for the death of Henry the third of France; and
But in private revenges it is not so; nay, rather vindicative persons live the life of witches; who, as they are mischievous, so end they unfortunate.
It was an high speech of Seneca, (after the manner of the Stoics), that the good things which belong to prosperity are to be wished, but the good things that belong to adversity are to be admired : “ Bona rerum secundarum " optabilia, adversarum mirabilia." Certainly if miracles be the command over nature, they appear most in adversity. It is yet a higher speech of his than the other, (much too high for a heathen), “ It is true greatness to have in
one the frailty of a man, and the security of a “ God:” “ Vere magnum habere fragilitatem “ hominis, securitatem Dei." This would have done better in poesy, where transcendencies are more allowed; and the poets, indeed, have been busy with it: for it is in effect the thing which is figured in that strange fiction of the ancient poets, which seemeth not to be with
out mystery ; nay, and to have some approach to the state of a Christian, “ that Hercules, “ when he went to unbind Prometheus, (by “ whom human nature is represented,) sailed “ the length of the great ocean in an earthern “ pot or pitcher, lively describing Christian re
solution, that saileth in the frail bark of the “ flesh through the waves of the world.” But to speak in a mean, the virtue of prosperity is temperance; the virtue of adversity is fortitude, which in morals is the more heroical virtue. Prosperity is the blessing of the Old Testament ; adversity is the blessing of the New, which carrieth the greater benediction and the clearer revelation of God's favour. Yet, even in the Old Testament, if
listen to David's harp, you shall hear as many
herse. like airs as carols; and the pencil of the Holy Ghost hath laboured more in describing the afflictions of Job than the felicities of Solomon. Prosperity is not without many fears and distastes ; and adversity is not without comforts and hopes. We see in needleworks and embroideries, it is more pleasing to have a lively work upon a sad and solemn ground than to have a dark and melancholy work upon
a lightsome ground : judge therefore of the pleasure of the heart by the pleasure of the eye. Certainly, virtue is like precious odours, most fragrant where they are incensed or crushed; for prosperity doth best discover vice, but adversity doth best discover virtue.
OF SIMULATION AND DISSIMU.
DISSIMULATION is but a faint kind of policy or wisdom ; for it asketh a strong wit and a strong heart to know when to tell truth, and to do it: therefore it is the weaker sort of
politicians that are the greatest dissemblers.
Tacitus saith, " Livia sorted well with the “ arts of her husband, and dissimulation of her
son ; attributing arts or policy to Augustus, « and dissimulation to Tiberius :” and again, when Mucianus encourageth Vespasian to take arms against Vitellius, he saith, " We rise not
against the piercing judgment of Augustus,
nor the extreme caution or closeness of Ti“ berius :" these properties of arts or policy,