« AnteriorContinuar »
meeting him, would have taken his letters; to whom the embassador said, that the queen had directed no letters to him; and so went on and delivered them to the emperor's own hands; and after a short withdrawing into the councilchamber, where he had conference with some of the council, he was called in to dinner: about the midst whereof, the emperor standing up, drank a deep carouse to the queen's health, and sent to the embassador a great bowl of Rhenish wine to pledge him. But at several times being called for to treat about affairs, and not yielding aught beyond his commission, the emperor not wont to be gainsaid, one day especially broke into passion, and with a stern countenance told him, he did not reckon the queen to be his fellow : for there are, quoth he, her betters. The embassador not holding it his part, whatever danger might ensue, to hear any derogate from the majesty of his prince, with like courage and countenance told him that the queen was equal to any in christendom, who thought himself greatest; and wanted not means to offend her enemies whomsoever. Yea, quoth he, what sayest thou of the French and Spanish kings? I hold her, quoth the embassador, equal to either. Then what to the German emperor? Her father, quoth he, had the cmperor in his pay.
172 MERE ASSENT TO MORAL PROPOSITIONS. Physicians tell us that there is a great deal of difference between taking a medicine, and the medicine getting into the constitution. A difference not unlike which, obtains with respect to those great moral propositions, which ought to form the directing principles of human conduct. It is one thing to assent to a proposition of this sort; another and a very different thing to have properly imbibed its influence. I take the case to be this :-perhaps almost every man living has a particular train of thought into which his mind falls, when at leisure from the impressions and ideas that occasionally excite it; perhaps also the train of thought here spoken of more than any other thing determines the character. It is of the utmost consequence therefore that this property of our constitution be well regulated.
173. FIESCO'S EXHORTATIONS TO THE CONSPIRATORS. While their minds were in this state of suspense and agitation, Fiesco appeared. With a look full of alacrity and confidence he addressed himself to the persons of chief distinction, telling them that they were not now called to partake of the pleasure of an entertainment, but to join in a deed of valour which would lead them to liberty and immortal renown. He set before their eyes the exorbitant as well as intolerable authority of the elder Doria, which the ambition of Giannetino, and the partiality of the Emperor to a family more devoted to him than to their country, was about to enlarge and to render perpetual. This unrighteous domination, continued he, you have it now in your power to subvert and to establish the freedom of your country on a firm basis. The tyrants must be cut off. I have taken the most effectual measures for this purpose. My associates are numerous. I can depend on allies and protectors if necessary. Happily the tyrants are as secure as I have been provident. Their insolent contempt of their countrymen has banished the suspicion and timidity which usually render the guilty quick-sighted to discern, as well as sagacious to guard gain the vengeance which they deserve. They will now feel the blow, before they suspect any hostile hand to be nigh. Let us then sally forth, that we may deliver our country by one generous effort, almost unaccompanied with danger, and certain of success.
174. TO BENEDITTO BUONOMATTAI A FLORENTINE. I will now mention the favourable opportunity which you have, if you wish to embrace it, of obliging foreigners, among
whom there is no one at all conspicuous for genius or for elegance who does not make the Tuscan language his delight, and indeed consider it as an essential part of education, particularly if he be only slightly tinctured with the literature of Greece or of Rome. I, who certainly have not merely wetted the tip of my lips in the stream of those languages, but in proportion to my years have swallowed the most copious draughts, can yet sometimes retire with avidity and delight to feast on Dante, Petrarch and many others; nor has Athens itself been able to confine me to the transparent wave of its Ilissus, nor ancient Rome to the banks of its Tiber, so as to prevent my visiting with delight the stream of the Arno and the hills of Fæsolæ...... The other critics in your language seem to this day to have had no other design than to satisfy their own countrymen, without taking any concern about any body else. Though I think that they would have provided better for their own reputation and for the glory of the Italian language, if they had delivered their precepts in such a manner as if it was for the interest of all men to learn their language. But, for all them, we might think that wished to confine your wisdom within the pomærium of the Alps.
175. FERNANDO CORTES DISSUADED FROM ABANDONING HIS SCHEMES OF CONQUEST. As soon as this was known, the disappointed adventurers exclaimed and threatened; the emissaries of Cortes, mingled with them, inflamed their rage;
the ferment became general; the whole camp was almost in open mutiny; all demanding with eagerness to see their commander. Cortes was not slow in appearing; when, with one voice, officers and soldiers expressed their astonishment and disappointment at the orders which they had received. It was unworthy, they cried, of the Castilian courage to be daunted at the first aspect of danger, and infamous to fly before any enemy appeared. For their parts, they were determined not to relinquish an enterprise, that had hitherto been successful, and which tended so visibly to advance the glory and the interest of their country. Happy under his command, they would follow him with alacrity through every danger, in quest of those settlements and treasures which he had so long held out to their view; but, if he chose rather to return, and tamely give up his hopes of distinction and opulence to an envious rival, they would instantly choose another general to conduct them in that path of glory, which he had not spirit to enter.
176. TALENT OF RIDICULE IN THE POSSESSION OF AN ILL-CONDITIONED MAN. There is nothing that more betrays a base ungenerous spirit than the giving of secret stabs to a man's reputation ; lampoons and satires, that are written with wit and spirit, are like poisoned darts, which not only inflict a wound but make it incurable. For this reason I am very much troubled when I see the talents of humour and ridicule in the possession of an ill-natured man. If, besides the accomplishments of being witty and ill-natured, a man is vicious into the bargain, he is one of the most mischievous creatures that can enter into a civil society. His satire will then chiefly fall upon those who ought to be most exempt from it. Virtue, merit and everything that is praiseworthy, will be made the subject of ridicule and buffoonery. It must indeed be confessed, that a lampoon or a satire do not carry in them robbery or murder; but at the same time, how many are there that would not rather lose a considerable sum of money or even life itself, than be set up as a mark of infamy and derision? and, in this case a man should consider, that an injury is not to be measured by the notions of him that gives, but of him that receives it.
but to meditate and ruminate well upon the effects of anger, how it troubles man's life; and the best time to do this, is to look back upon anger when the fit is thoroughly over. Seneca saith well, 'that anger is like rain, which breaks itself upon that it falls.' The Scripture exhorteth us 'to possess our souls in patience ;' whosoever is out of patience, is out of possession of his soul. Men must not turn bees:
‘and by inflicting wounds themselves destroy.' Anger is certainly a kind of baseness, as it appears well in the weakness of those subjects in whom it reigns, children, women, old folks, sick folks. Only men must beware that they carry their anger rather with scorn than with fear, so that they may seem rather to be above the injury than below it, which is a thing easily done, if a man will give law to himself in it.
I had my
178. THE STUDY OF THE ELEGIAC POETS. time, as others have who have good learning bestowed upon them, to be sent to those places where the opinion was it might be soonest attained ; and, as the manner is, was not unstudied in those authors which are most commended. Whereof some were grave orators and historians, whose matter methought I loved indeed, but, as my age then was, so I understood them; others were the smooth elegiac poets, whereof the schools are not scarce, whom both for the pleasing sound of their numerous writing, which in imitation I found most easy and most agreeable to nature's part in me, and for their matter, which what it is there be few who know not, I was so allured to read, that no recreation came to me better welcome. For that it was then those years with me which are excused, though they be least severe, I may be saved the labour to remember ye. Whence
having observed them to account it the chief glory of their wit, in that they were the ablest to judge, to praise, and by that could esteem themselves worthiest to love those high perfections which under one or other name they took to celebrate; I thought with myself by every instinct and presage of nature, which is not wont to be false, that what emboldened them to this task, might with such diligence as they used embolden me; and that what judgment, wit or elegance was my share, would herein best appear, and best value itself, by how much more wisely and with more love of virtue I should choose (let rude ears be absent) the object of not unlike praises.
179. THE COURSE OF NATURE. Nor do I so forget God as to adore the name of nature; which I define not with the schools, the principle of motion and rest, but that straight and regular line, that settled and constant course the wisdom of God hath ordained the actions of His creatures, according to their several kinds. To make a revolution every day is the nature of the sun, because of that necessary course which God hath ordained it, from which it cannot swerve but by a faculty from that voice which first gave it motion. Now this course of nature God seldom alters or perverts, but like an excellent artist hath so contrived His work, that with the selfsame instrument, without a new creation, He may effect his obscurest designs.
180. RHETORICAL BLANDISHMENTS. My lords, I should be ashamed if at this moment I attempted to use any sort of rhetorical blandishments whatever. Such artifices would neither be suitable to the body that I represent, to the cause which I sustain, or to my own individual disposition upon such an occasion. My lords, we know very well what these fallacious blandishments too frequently are. We know that they are used to captivate the benevolence of the court, and to conciliate the affections of the tribunal rather to the person than to the cause. We know that they are used to stifle the remonstrances of conscience in the judge, and to reconcile it to the violation of his duty. We likewise know, that they are too often used in great and important causes (and more particularly in causes like this) to reconcile the prosecutor to the powerful factions of a protected criminal, and