Imágenes de página

ner of doubt, to recover their corresponding values in money ; and it is no answer to me to say, that he who has deprived me of the advantage I before possessed, is in no situation to render me satisfaction. It would be a direct breach of the oaths of jurors if, impressed with a firm conviction that a plaintiff had received damages to a given amount, they retired from their duty, because they felt commiseration for a defendant, even in a case where he might be worthy of compassion, from the injury being unpremeditated and inadvertent.

96. PINDAR-HIS RECITATION OF HIS OWN ODES. No one in fact can read the first or the sixth Olympic ode without perceiving at once, how much of their beauty and good sense depended on being recited by their author. The rapid transitions, so much in the manner of a skilful improvisatore, who changes his subject as soon he finds it becoming wearisome; the allusions to the banquet then before them, to the songs which they had just heard, and to the persons present; the compliments to the musicians and to the patron of the feast; and the artful mention of the poet's own feelings history or necessities would all have been absurd and offensive in any mouth but his own.

97. EFFECTS AND FORCE OF MUSICAL HARMONY. In harmony the very image and character even of Virtue and Vice is perceived, the mind delighted with their resemblances, and brought by having them often iterated into a love of the things themselves. For which cause there is nothing more contagious and pestilent than some kinds of harmony; than some, nothing more strong and potent unto good. And that there is such a difference of one kind from another we need no proof but our own experience, inasmuch as we are at the hearing of some more inclined unto sorrow and heaviness, of some, more mollified and softened in mind; one kind apter to stay and settle us, another to move and stir our affections; there is that draweth to a marvellous grave and sober mediocrity; there is also that carrieth as it were into ecstasies, filling the mind with an heavenly joy, and for the time in a manner severing it from the body: so that although we lay altogether aside the consideration of ditty or matter, the very harmony of sounds being framed in due sort, and carried from the ear to the spiritual faculties of our souls, is by a native puissance and efficacy greatly available to bring to a perfect temper whatsoever is there troubled.


98. PERICLES. The influence of Pericles was grounded partly indeed on the measures by which he courted popular favour-which would have been equally agreeable if they had been proposed by any other man-but still more on the rare qualities of his genius and his character: on his eloquence, his military talents, his political experience, his prudence, his integrity, his serenity and greatness of soul. It was thus that he was enabled permanently to control the Assembly and sometimes successfully to resist its declared wishes. No man ever appeared after him at the head of affairs who combined so many claims to general confidence and respect. But with regard to the demagogues who succeeded him in the period which we are now reviewing, it is clear that, with one exception, none of them possessed any personal influence, or was indebted for the degree of favour he enjoyed to any other instruments than the arts with which he flattered the passions of the people.


99. OBSTINATE ADHERENCE TO CUSTOM. Surely every medicine is an innovation, and he that will not apply new remedies must expect new evils; for time is the greatest innovator ; and if time of course alter all things to the worse and wisdom and counsel shall not alter them to the better, what shall be the end ? It is true, that what is settled by custom, though it be not good, yet at least it is fit; and those things which have long gone together are as it were confederate within themselves; whereas new things piece not so well, but though they help by their utility yet they trouble by their inconformity: besides, they are like strangers, more admired and less favoured. All this is true, if time stood still; which contrariwise moveth so round, that a froward retention of custom is as turbulent a thing as an innovation, and they that reverence too much old times are but a scorn to the new. It were good therefore that men in their innovations would follow the example of time itself, which indeed innovateth greatly but quietly and by degrees scarce to be perceived; for otherwise, whatsoever is new is unlooked for, and ever it mends some and pairs? other; and he that is holpen takes it for a fortune and thanks the time, and he that is hurt for a wrong and imputeth it to the author.


100. PRIDE—THE NATIONAL CHARACTER OF THE ENGLISH. It is to be lamented that the national character of the English is pride, and the meanest of all pride, purse-pride. Even a poor lord is despised; and to increase his fortune, a necessitous peer will condescend to marry into a rich citizen's family. An overweening affection for money, an idolatrous worship of gain, have absolutely confounded the general intellect, and warped the judgment of many to that excess, that, in estimating men or things, they refer always to "What is he worth?' or "What will it fetch?' Were we to point out a person as he passes and say, “There goes a good man, one who has not a vice'-he would scarce be noticedbut exclaim, “That man is worth £500,000,' and he will be stared at till out of sight...... This makes good what Mr Burke says, 'that a merchant has no faith but in his banker; his ledger is his bible; the exchange is his church; the desk is his altar; and his money is his god.'


KING HENRY VII-HIS EMBASSY TO MAXIMILIAN ON THE PROJECTED INVASION OF FRANCE, A.D. 1513. The English ambassadors having repaired to Maximilian did find his power and promise at a very great distance, he being utterly unprovided of men money and arms for any such enterprise. For Maximilian, having neither wing to fly on, for that his patrimony of Austria was not in his hands (his father being then living) and on the other side his matrimonial territories of Flanders were partly in dowry to his mother-in-law and partly not serviceable in respect of the late rebellions, was thereby destitute of means to enter into

The ambassadors saw this well, but wisely thought fit to advertise the king thereof, rather than to return themselves, till the king's further pleasure were known: the rather, for that Maximilian himself spake as great as ever he did before, and entertained them with dilatory answers: so as the formal part of their ambassage might well warrant and require their farther stay. The king hereupon (who doubted as much before and saw through his business from the beginning) wrote back to the ambassadors, commending their discretion in not returning, and willing them to keep the state wherein they found Maximilian as a secret, till they heard further from him.


1 pairs] i. q. impairs.



I find my

LIVING OVER AGAIN. And, though I think that no man can live well once, but he that could live twice, yet for my own part I would not live over my hours past or begin again the thread of my days, not because I have lived them well but for fear I should live them worse. growing judgment daily instruct me how to be better, but my untamed affections and confirmed vitiosity make me daily do worse. I find in my confirmed age the same sins I discovered in my youth; I committed many then because I was a child; and because I commit them still, I am yet an infant. Therefore I perceive a man may be twice a child before the years of dotage; and stand in need of Æson's bath before threescore.



We term sleep a death, and yet it is waking that kills us and destroys those spirits that are the house of life. 'Tis indeed a part of life that best expresseth death ; for every man truly lives, so long as he acts his nature or some way makes good the faculties of himself. It is that death by which we may literally be said to die daily ; a death which Adam died before his mortality ; a death whereby we live a middle and moderating point between life and death. In fine, so like death, I dare not trust it without my prayers and an half adieu unto the world, and take my farewell in a colloquy with God.


104. DIGNITY OF MAN'S NATURE SHEWN IN HIS SENSE OF RELIGION. It is hardly possible to say how vastly the human mind excels the brutes with regard to its wonderful powers, and next to these, in its works, devices and intentions; for it performs such great and wonderful things, as the brutes, even those of the greatest sagacity, can neither FOL. CENT.


imitate nor at all understand. Nay man, though he is much less in bulk, and inferior in strength to many of them, yet as lord and king of them all, he can, by surprising means, bend and apply the strength and industry of all the other creatures, and all the parts and powers of this visible world, to the convenience and accommodation of his own life. He also builds cities, erects commonwealths, makes laws, conducts armies, fits out fleets, measures not only the earth but the heavens also, and investigates the motions of the stars. He foretells eclipses many years before they happen, and with little difficulty, sends his thoughts to a great distance, bids them visit the remotest cities and countries, and mount above the sun and the stars and even the heavens themselves. But all these things are small, compared with that surpassing dignity which results to the human mind from its being capable of religion. It acknowledges a God and worships Him; it buildştemples to His honour; it celebrates His never enough exalted. Majesty with sacrifices, prayers, and praises; depends upon His bounty, implores His aid; and so carries on a constant intercourse with heaven-and, which is a strong proof of its being originally from heaven, it hopes at last to return thither. Truly, in my judgment, this previous impression and hope of immortality, and these earnest desires after it, are a very strong evidence that the soul is immortal.



105. SAME CONTINUED. These impressions of immortality, though in most men they lie overpowered, and almost quite extinguished by the weight of their bodies, and an extravagant love to present enjoyment, yet now and then in time of adversity, break forth and exert themselves, especially under the pressure of severe distempers, and at the approaches of death. But those whose minds are purified, and their thoughts habituated to divine things, with what constant and ardent wishes do they breathe after that their blessed immortality! Like exiles, they earnestly wish, make interest and struggle hard to regain their native country. Moreover, does not that noble neglect of the body and its senses, and that contempt of all the pleasures of the flesh, which these heavenly souls have attained, evidently show that, in a short time, they will be taken from hence, and that the body and soul are of a different and almost contrary nature to one another; that, therefore, the duration of the

« AnteriorContinuar »