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Title: Seneca's Morals of a Happy Life, Benefits, Anger and Clemency
Author: Seneca, Lucius Annaeus
Language: English
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Translated by


New Edition.

Belford, Clarke & Co.,

Belford . Clarke & Co.,

Printed and Bound by
Donohue & Henneberry.
Chicago, Ill.


It has been a long time my thought to turn SENECA into English;
but whether as a _translation_ or an _abstract_, was the question.
A _translation_, I perceive, it must not be, at last, for several
reasons. First, it is a thing already done to my hand, and of above
sixty years’ standing; though with as little _credit_, perhaps, to
the Author, as _satisfaction_ to the Reader. Secondly, There is a
great deal in him, that is wholly foreign to my business: as his
philosophical treatises of _Meteors_, _Earthquakes_, the Original
of _Rivers_, several frivolous disputes betwixt the Epicureans and
the Stoics, etc., to say nothing of his frequent repetitions of the
same thing again in other words, (wherein he very handsomely excuses
himself, by saying, “That he does but inculcate over and over the same
counsels to those that over and over commit the same faults.”)Thirdly,
His excellency consists rather in a rhapsody of divine and
extraordinary _hints_ and _notions_, than in any regulated method of
discourse; so that to take him as he lies, and so to go through with
him, were utterly inconsistent with the order and brevity which I
propound; my principal design, being only to digest, and commonplace
his _Morals_, in such sort, that any man, upon occasion, may know where
to find them. And I have kept myself so close to this proposition,
that I have reduced all his scattered Ethics to their _proper heads_,
without any additions of my own, more than of absolute necessity
for the tacking of them together. Some other man in my place would
perhaps make you twenty apologies for his want of skill and address,
in governing this affair; but these are formal and pedantic fooleries,
as if any man that first takes himself for a coxcomb in his own heart,
would afterwards make himself one in print too. This _Abstract_, such
as it is, you are extremely welcome to; and I am sorry it is no better,
both for your sakes and my own, for if it were written up to the spirit
of the original, it would be one of the most valuable presents that
ever any private man bestowed upon the public; and this, too, even in
the judgment of both parties, as well Christian as Heathen, of which in
its due place.

Next to my choice of the _Author_ and of the _subject_, together with
the manner of handling it, I have likewise had some regard, in this
publication, to the _timing_ of it, and to the preference of this topic
of _Benefits_ above all others, for the groundwork of my _first essay_.
We are fallen into an age of _vain philosophy_ (as the holy apostle
calls it) and so desperately overrun with Drolls and Sceptics, that
there is hardly any thing so certain or so sacred, that is not exposed
to question and contempt, insomuch, that betwixt the hypocrite and the
Atheist, the very foundations of religion and good manners are shaken,
and the two tables of the _Decalogue_ dashed to pieces the one against
the other; the laws of government are subjected to the fancies of the
vulgar; public authority to the private passions and opinions of the
people; and the supernatural motions of grace confounded with the
common dictates of nature. In this state of corruption, who so fit as a
good honest Christian Pagan for a moderator among Pagan Christians?

To pass now from the general scope of the whole work to the particular
argument of the first part of it, I pitched upon the theme of
_Benefits_, _Gratitude_, and _Ingratitude_, to begin withal, as an
earnest of the rest, and a lecture expressly calculated for the
unthankfulness of these times; the foulest undoubtedly, and the most
execrable of all others, since the very apostasy of the angels:
nay, if I durst but suppose a possibility of mercy for those damned
spirits, and that they might ever be taken into favor again, my
charity would hope even better for them than we have found from some
of our revolters, and that they would so behave themselves as not to
incur a second forfeiture. And to carry the resemblance yet one point
farther, they do both of them agree in an implacable malice against
those of their fellows that keep their stations. But, alas! what
could _Ingratitude_ do without _Hypocrisy_, the inseparable companion
of it, and, in effect, the bolder and blacker devil of the two? for
Lucifer himself never had the face to lift up his eyes to heaven, and
talk to the ALMIGHTY at the familiar rate of our pretended patriots
and zealots, and at the same time to make him party to a cheat. It is
not for nothing that the Holy Ghost has denounced so many woes, and
redoubled so many cautions against _hypocrites_; plainly intimating
at once how dangerous a snare they are to mankind, and no less odious
to God himself; which is sufficiently denoted in the force of that
dreadful expression, _And your portion shall be with hypocrites_. You
will find in the holy scriptures (as I have formerly observed) that
God has given the grace of repentance to _persecutors_, _idolaters_,
_murderers_, _adulterers_, etc., but I am mistaken if the whole Bible
affords you any one instance of a _converted hypocrite_.

To descend now from truth itself to our own experience have we not
seen, even in our days, a most pious (and almost faultless) Prince
brought to the scaffold by his own subjects? The most glorious
constitution upon the face of the earth, both ecclesiastical and
civil, torn to pieces and dissolved? The happiest people under the sun
enslaved? Our temples sacrilegiously profaned, and a license given
to all sorts of heresy and outrage? And by whom but by a race of
_hypocrites?_ who had nothing in their mouths all this while but _the
purity of the gospel_, _the honor of the king_, and _the liberty of
the people_, assisted underhand with _defamatory papers_, which were
levelled at the _king_ himself through the sides of his most faithful
_ministers_. This PROJECT succeeded so well against one government,
that it is now again set afoot against another; and by some of the
very actors too in that TRAGEDY, and after a most gracious pardon
also, when Providence had laid their necks and their fortunes at his
majesty’s feet. It is a wonderful thing that _libels_ and _libellers_,
the most _infamous_ of _practices_ and of _men_; the most _unmanly
sneaking methods_ and _instruments_ of _mischief_; the very bane
of _human society_, and the _plague_ of all _governments_; it is a
wonderful thing (I say) that these engines and engineers should ever
find credit enough in the world to engage a party; but it would be
still more wonderful if the _same trick_ should pass twice upon the
_same people_, in the _same age_, and from the _same_ IMPOSTORS. This
contemplation has carried me a little out of my way, but it has at
length brought me to my text again, for there is in the bottom of it
the highest opposition imaginable of _ingratitude_ and _obligation_.

The reader will, in some measure, be able to judge by this taste what
he is farther to expect; that is to say, as to the cast of my design,
and the simplicity of the style and dress; for that will still be the
same, only accompanied with variety of matter. Whether it pleases the
world or no, the care is taken; and yet I could wish that it might be
as delightful to others upon the perusal, as it has been to me in the
speculation. Next to the gospel itself, I do look upon it as the most
sovereign remedy against the miseries of human nature: and I have ever
found it so, in all the injuries and distresses of an unfortunate life.
You may read more of him, if you please, in the _Appendix_, which I
have here subjoined to this Preface, concerning the authority of his
_writings_, and the circumstances of his _life_; as I have extracted
them out of Lipsius.


It appears that our author had among the ancients three professed
enemies. In the first place Caligula, who called his writings, _sand
without lime_; alluding to the starts of his fancy, and the incoherence
of his sentences. But Seneca was never the worse for the censure of a
person that propounded even the suppressing of Homer himself; and of
casting Virgil and Livy out of all _public libraries_. The next was
Fabius, who taxes him for being too bold with the eloquence of former
times, and failing in that point himself; and likewise for being too
quaint and finical in his expressions; which Tacitus imputes, in
part to the freedom of his own particular inclination, and partly to
the humor of the times. He is also charged by Fabius as no profound
philosopher; but with all this, he allows him to be a man very studious
and learned, of great wit and invention, and well read in all sorts of
literature; a severe reprover of vice; most divinely sententious; and
well worth the reading, if it were only for his morals; adding, that if
his judgment had been answerable to his wit, it had been much the more
for his reputation; but he wrote whatever came next; so that I would
advise the reader (says he) to distinguish where he _himself_ did not,
for there are many things in him, not only to be approved, but admired;
and it was great pity that he that could do what he would, should not
always make the best choice. His third adversary is Agellius, who
falls upon him for his style, and a kind of tinkling in his sentences,
but yet commends him for his piety and good counsels. On the other
side, Columela calls him _a man of excellent wit and learning_; Pliny,
_the prince of erudition;_ Tacitus gives him the character of _a wise
man, and a fit tutor for a prince_; Dio reports him to have been _the
greatest man of his age_.

Of those pieces of his that are extant, we shall not need to give
any particular account: and of those that are lost, we cannot, any
farther than by lights to them from other authors, as we find them
cited much to his honor; and we may reasonably compute them to be
the greater part of his works. That he wrote several _poems_ in his
banishment, may be gathered partly from himself, but more expressly
out of Tacitus, who says, “that he was reproached with his applying
himself to poetry, after he saw that Nero took pleasure in it, out
of a design to curry favor.” St. Jerome refers to a discourse of his
concerning matrimony. Lactantius takes notice of his history, and his
books of Moralities: St. Augustine quotes some passages of his out of
a book of Superstition; some references we meet with to his books of
Exhortations: Fabius makes mention of his Dialogues: and he himself
speaks of a treatise of his own concerning Earthquakes, which he wrote
in his youth, but the opinion of an epistolary correspondence that he
had with St. Paul, does not seem to have much color for it.

Some few fragments, however, of those books of his that are wanting,
are yet preserved in the writings of other eminent authors, sufficient
to show the world how great a treasure they have lost by the excellency
of that little that is left.

Seneca, says Lactantius, that was the sharpest of all the Stoics,
how great a veneration has he for the Almighty! as for instance,
discoursing of a violent death; “Do you not understand?” says he, “the
majesty and the authority of your Judge; he is the supreme Governor of
heaven and earth, and the God of all your gods; and it is upon him that
all those powers depend which we worship for deities.” Moreover, in his
Exhortations, “This God,” says he, “when he laid the foundations of the
universe, and entered upon the greatest and the best work in nature, in
the ordering of the government of the world, though he was himself All
in all, yet he substituted other subordinate ministers, as the servants
of his commands.” And how many other things does this Heathen speak of
God like one of us!

Which the acute Seneca, says Lactantius again, saw in his Exhortations.
“We,” says he, “have our dependence elsewhere, and should look up to
that power, to which we are indebted for all that we can pretend to
that is good.”

And again, Seneca says very well in his Morals, “They worship the
images of the God,” says he, “kneel to them, and adore them, they are
hardly ever from them, either plying them with offerings or sacrifices,
and yet, after all this reverence to the image, they have no regard at
all to the workman that made it.”

Lactantius again. “An invective,” says Seneca in his Exhortations, “is
the masterpiece of most of our philosophers; and if they fall upon
the subject of _avarice_, _lust_, _ambition_, they lash out into such
excess of bitterness, as if railing were a mark of their profession.
They make me think of gallipots in an apothecary’s shop, that have
remedies without and poison within.”

Lactantius still. “He that would know all things, let him read Seneca;
the most lively describer of public vices and manners, and the smartest
reprehender of them.”

And again; as Seneca has it in the books of Moral Philosophy, “He is
the brave man, whose splendor and authority is the least part of his
greatness, that can look death in the face without trouble or surprise;
who, if his body were to be broken upon the wheel, or melted lead to be
poured down his throat, would be less concerned for the pain itself,
than for the dignity of bearing it.”

Let no man, says Lactantius, think himself the safer in his wickedness
for want of a witness; for God is omniscient, and to him nothing can
be a secret. It is an admirable sentence that Seneca concludes his
Exhortations withal: “God,” says he, “is a great, (I know not what),
an incomprehensible Power; it is to him that we live, and to him that
we must approve ourselves. What does it avail us that our consciences
are hidden from men, when our souls lie open to God?” What could a
Christian have spoken more to the purpose in this case than this divine
Pagan? And in the beginning of the same work, says Seneca, “What is
it that we do? to what end is it to stand contriving, and to hide
ourselves? We are under a guard, and there is no escaping from our
keeper. One man may be parted from another by travel, death, sickness;
but there is no dividing us from ourselves. It is to no purpose to
creep into a corner where nobody shall see us. Ridiculous madness!
Make it the case, that no mortal eye could find us out, he that has a
conscience gives evidence against himself.”

It is truly and excellently spoken of Seneca, says Lactantius, once
again; “Consider,” says he “the majesty, the goodness, and the
venerable mercies of the Almighty; a friend that is always at hand.
What delight can it be to him the slaughter of innocent creatures or
the worship of bloody sacrifices? Let us purge our minds, and lead
virtuous and honest lives. His pleasure lies not in the magnificence of
temples made with stone, but in the pity and devotion of consecrated

In the book that Seneca wrote against Superstitions, treating of
images, says St. Austin, he writes thus: “They represent the holy, the
immortal, and the inviolable gods in the basest matter, and without
life or motion; in the forms of men, beasts, fishes, some of mixed
bodies, and those figures they call deities, which, if they were but
animated, would affright a man, and pass for monsters.” And then, a
little farther, treating of Natural Theology, after citing the opinions
of philosophers, he supposes an objection against himself: “Somebody
will perhaps ask me, would you have me then to believe the heavens and
the earth to be gods, and some of them above the moon, and some below
it? Shall I ever be brought to the opinion of Plato, or of Strabo the
Peripatetic? the one of which would have God to be without a body,
and the other without a mind.” To which he replies, “And do you give
more credit then to the dreams of T. Tatius, Romulus, Hostilius, who
caused, among other deities, even Fear and Paleness to be worshipped?
the vilest of human affections; the one being the motion of an
affrighted mind, and the other not so much the disease as the color
of a disordered body. Are these the deities that you will rather put
your faith in, and place in the heavens?” And speaking afterward of
their abominable customs, with what liberty does he write! “One,” says
he, “out of zeal, makes himself an eunuch, another lances his arms; if
this be the way to _please_ their gods, what should a man do if he had
a mind to _anger_ them? or, if this be the way to please them, they do
certainly deserve not to be worshipped at all. What a frenzy is this to
imagine that the gods can be delighted with such cruelties, as even the
worst of men would make a conscience to inflict! The most barbarous and
notorious of tyrants, some of them have perhaps done it themselves, or
ordered the tearing of men to pieces by others; but they never went so
far as to command any man to torment himself. We have heard of those
that have suffered castration to gratify the lust of their imperious
masters, but never any man that was forced to act it upon himself. They
murder themselves in their very temples, and their prayers are offered
up in blood. Whosoever shall but observe what they do, and what they
suffer, will find it so misbecoming an honest man, so unworthy of a
freeman, and so inconsistent with the action of a man in his wits, that
he must conclude them all to be mad, if it were not that there are so
many of them; for only their number is their justification and their

When he comes to reflect, says St. Augustine, upon those passages which
he himself had seen in the Capitol, he censures them with liberty and
resolution; and no man will believe that such things would be done
unless in mockery or frenzy. What lamentation is there in the Egyptian
sacrifices for the loss of Osiris? and then what joy for the finding
of him again? Which he makes himself sport with; for in truth it is
all a fiction; and yet those people that neither lost any thing nor
found any thing, must express their sorrows and their rejoicings to
the highest degree. “But there is only a certain time,” says he, “for
this freak, and once in a year people may be allowed to be mad. I came
into the Capitol,” says Seneca, “where the several deities had their
several servants and attendants, their lictors, their dressers, and
all in posture and action, as if they were executing their offices;
some to hold the glass, others to comb out Juno’s and Minerva’s hair;
one to tell Jupiter what o’clock it is; some lasses there are that sit
gazing upon the image, and fancy Jupiter has a kindness for them. All
these things,” says Seneca, a while after, “a wise man will observe for
the law’s sake more than for the gods; and all this rabble of deities,
which the superstition of many ages has gathered together, we are in
such manner to adore, as to consider the worship to be rather matter
of custom than of conscience.” Whereupon St. Augustine observes, that
this illustrious senator worshipped what he reproved, acted what he
disliked, and adored what he condemned.


It has been an ancient custom to record the actions and the writings
of eminent men, with all their circumstances, and it is but a right
that we owe to the memory of our famous author. Seneca was by birth a
Spaniard of Cordova, (a Roman colony of great fame and antiquity.) He
was of the family of Annæus, of the order of knights; and the father,
Lucius Annæus Seneca, was distinguished from the son, by the name
of _the Orator_. His mother’s name was Helvia, a woman of excellent
qualities. His father came to Rome in the time of Augustus, and his
wife and children soon followed him, our Seneca yet being in his
infancy. There were three brothers of them, and never a sister. Marcus
Annæus Novatus, Lucius Annæus Seneca, and Lucius Annæus Mela; the first
of these changed his name for Junius Gallio, who adopted him; to him it
was that he dedicated his treatise of ANGER, whom he calls Novatus too;
and he also dedicated his discourse of a _Happy Life_ to his brother
Gallio. The youngest brother (Annæus Mela) was Lucan’s father. Seneca
was about twenty years of age in the _fifth year_ of Tiberius, when the
Jews were expelled from Rome. His father trained him up to _rhetoric,_
but his genius led him rather to _philosophy;_ and he applied his wit
to _morality_ and _virtue_. He was a great hearer of the celebrated
men of those times; as Attalus, Sotion, Papirius, Fabianus, (of whom
he makes often mention,) and he was much an admirer also of Demetrius
the Cynic, whose conversation he had afterwards in the Court, and both
at home also and abroad, for they often travelled together. His father
was not at all pleased with his humor of _philosophy_, but forced him
upon the _law_, and for a while he practiced _pleading_. After which
he would needs put him upon _public employment:_ and he came first to
be _quæstor_, then _prætor,_ and some will have it that he was chosen
_consul_; but this is doubtful.

Seneca finding that he had ill offices done him at court, and that
Nero’s favor began to cool, he went directly and resolutely to Nero,
with an offer to refund all that he had gotten, which Nero would not
receive; but however, from that time he changed his course of life,
received few visits, shunned company, went little abroad; still
pretending to be kept at home, either by indisposition or by his
study. Being Nero’s tutor and governor, all things were well so long
as Nero followed his counsel. His two chief favorites were Burrhus and
Seneca, who were both of them excellent in their ways: Burrhus, in
his care of _military_ affairs, and severity of _discipline_; Seneca
for his _precepts_ and _good advice_ in the matter of _eloquence,_
and the _gentleness_ of an _honest mind_; assisting one another, in
that slippery age of the prince (says Tacitus) to invite him, by the
allowance of lawful pleasures, to the love of virtue. Seneca had two
wives; the name of the first is not mentioned; his second was Paulina,
whom he often speaks of with great passion. By the former he had his
son Marcus.

In the first year of Claudius he was banished into Corsica, when Julia,
the daughter of Germanicus, was accused by Messalina of adultery and
banished too, Seneca being charged as one of the adulterers. After a
matter of eight years or upwards in exile, he was called back, and as
much in favor again as ever. His estate was partly patrimonial, but the
greatest part of it was the bounty of his prince. His gardens, villas,
lands, possessions, and incredible sums of money, are agreed upon at
all hands; which drew an envy upon him. Dio reports him to have had
250,000_l._ sterling at interest in Britanny alone, which he called in
all at a sum. The Court itself could not bring him to flattery; and
for his piety, submission, and virtue, the practice of his whole life
witnesses for him. “So soon,” says he, “as the candle is taken away,
my wife, that knows my custom, lies still, without a word speaking,
and then do I recollect all that I have said or done that day, and
take myself to shrift. And why should I conceal or reserve anything,
or make any scruple of inquiring into my errors, when I can say to
myself, Do so no more, and for this once I will forgive thee?” And
again, what can be more pious and self-denying than this passage, in
one of his epistles? “Believe me now, when I tell you the very bottom
of my soul: in all the difficulties and crosses of my life, this is my
consideration—since it is God’s will, I do not only obey, but assent to
it; nor do I comply out of necessity, but inclination.”

“Here follows now,” says Tacitus, “the death of Seneca, to Nero’s great
satisfaction; not so much for any pregnant proof against him that he
was of Piso’s conspiracy; but Nero was resolved to do that by the sword
which he could not effect by poison. For it is reported, that Nero
had corrupted Cleonicus (a freeman of Seneca’s) to give his master
poison, which did not succeed. Whether that the servant had discovered
it to his master, or that Seneca, by his own caution and jealousy, had
avoided it; for he lived only upon a simple diet, as the fruits of the
earth, and his drink was most commonly river water.

“Natalis, it seems, was sent upon a visit to him (being indisposed)
with a complaint that he would not let Piso come at him; and advising
him to the continuance of their friendship and acquaintance as
formerly. To whom Seneca made answer, that frequent meetings and
conferences betwixt them could do neither of them any good; but that
he had a great interest in Piso’s welfare. Hereupon Granius Silvanus
(a captain of the guard) was sent to examine Seneca upon the discourse
that passed betwixt him and Natalis, and to return his answer. Seneca,
either by chance or upon purpose, came that day from Campania, to
a villa of his own, within four miles of the city; and thither the
officer went the next evening, and beset the place. He found Seneca
at supper with his wife Paulina, and two of his friends; and gave him
immediately an account of his commission. Seneca told him, that it was
true that Natalis had been with him in Piso’s name, with a complaint
_that Piso could not be admitted to see him_; and that he excused
himself by reason of his want of health, and his desires to be quiet
and private; and that he had no reason to prefer another man’s welfare
before his own. Cæsar himself, he said, knew very well that he was not
a man of compliment, having received more proofs of his freedom than
of his flattery. This answer of Seneca’s was delivered to Cæsar in the
presence of Poppæa, and Tigellinus, the intimate confidants of this
barbarous prince: and Nero asked him whether he could gather anything
from Seneca as if he intended to make himself away? The tribune’s
answer was, that he did not find him one jot moved with the message:
but that he went on roundly with his tale, and never so much as changed
countenance for the matter. Go back to him then, says Nero, and tell
him, _that he is condemned to die_. Fabius Rusticus delivers it, that
the tribune did not return the same way he came, but went aside to
Fenius (a captain of that name) and told him Cæsar’s orders, asking his
advice whether he should obey them or not; who bade him by all means
to do as he was ordered. Which want of resolution was fatal to them
all; for Silvanus also, that was one of the conspirators, assisted now
to serve and to increase those crimes, which he had before complotted
to revenge. And yet he did not think fit to appear himself in the
business, but sent a centurion to Seneca to tell him his doom.

“Seneca, without any surprise or disorder, calls for his will; which
being refused him by the officer, he turned to his friends, and told
them that since he was not permitted to requite them as they deserved,
he was yet at liberty to bequeath them the thing of all others that
he esteemed the most, that is, the image of his life; which should
give them the reputation both of _constancy_ and _friendship_, if they
would but imitate it; exhorting them to a firmness of mind, sometimes
by good counsel, otherwhile by reprehension, as the occasion required.
Where, says he, is all your philosophy now? all your _premeditated
resolutions_ against the violences of Fortune? Is there any man so
ignorant of Nero’s cruelty, as to expect, after the murder of his
mother and his brother, that he should ever spare the life of his
governor and tutor? After some general expressions to this purpose, he
took his wife in his arms, and having somewhat fortified her against
the present calamity, he besought and conjured her to moderate her
sorrows, and betake herself to the contemplations and comforts of a
virtuous life; which would be a fair and ample consolation to her for
the loss of her husband. Paulina, on the other side, tells him her
determination to bear him company, and wills the executioner to do
his office. Well, says Seneca, if after the sweetness of life, as I
have represented it to thee, thou hadst rather entertain an honorable
death, I shall not envy thy example; consulting, at the same time, the
fame of the person he loved, and his own tenderness, for fear of the
injuries that might attend her when he was gone. Our resolution, says
he, in this generous act, may be equal, but thine will be the greater
reputation. After this the veins of both their arms were opened at the
same time. Seneca did not bleed so freely, his spirits being wasted
with age and a thin diet; so that he was forced to cut the veins of his
thighs and elsewhere, to hasten his dispatch. When he was far spent,
and almost sinking under his torments, he desired his wife to remove
into another chamber, lest the agonies of the one might work upon the
courage of the other. His eloquence continued to the last, as appears
by the excellent things he delivered at his death; which being taken
in writing from his own mouth, and published in his own words, I shall
not presume to deliver them in any other. Nero, in the meantime, who
had no particular spite to Paulina, gave orders to prevent her death,
for fear his cruelty should grow more and more insupportable and
odious. Whereupon the soldiers gave all freedom and encouragement to
her servants to bind up her wounds, and stop the blood, which they did
accordingly; but whether she was sensible of it or not is a question.
For among the common people, who are apt to judge the worst, there
were some of opinion, that as long as she despaired of Nero’s mercy,
she seemed to court the glory of dying with her husband for company;
but that upon the likelihood of better quarter she was prevailed upon
to outlive him; and so for some years she did survive him, with all
piety and respect to his memory; but so miserably pale and wan, that
everybody might read the loss of her blood and spirits in her very

“Seneca finding his death slow and lingering, desires Statius Annæus
(his old friend and physician) to give him a dose of poison, which he
had provided beforehand, being the same preparation which was appointed
for capital offenders in Athens. This was brought him, and he drank
it up, but to little purpose; for his body was already chilled, and
bound up against the force of it. He went at last into a hot bath, and
sprinkling some of his servants that were next him, this, says he,
is an oblation to Jupiter _the deliverer_. The fume of the bath soon
dispatched him, and his body was burnt, without any funeral solemnity,
as he had directed in his testament: though this will of his was made
in the height of his prosperity and power. There was a rumor that
Subrius Flavius, in a private consultation with the centurions, had
taken up this following resolution, (and that Seneca himself was no
stranger to it) that is to say, that after Nero should have been slain
by the help of Piso, Piso himself should have been killed too; and the
empire delivered up to Seneca, as one that well deserved it, for his
integrity and virtue.”




It is, perhaps, one of the most pernicious errors of a rash and
inconsiderate life, the common ignorance of the world in the matter of
exchanging _benefits_. And this arises from a mistake, partly in the
person that we would oblige, and partly in the thing itself. To begin
with the latter: “A benefit is a good office, done with intention and
judgment;” that is to say, with a due regard to all the circumstances
of _what_, _how_, _why_, _when_, _where_, _to whom_, _how much_, and
the like; or otherwise: “It is a voluntary and benevolent action that
delights the giver in the comfort it brings to the receiver.” It will
be hard to draw this subject, either into method or compass: the one,
because of the infinite variety and complication of cases; the other,
by reason of the large extent of it: for the whole business (almost)
of mankind in society falls under this head; the duties of kings
and subjects, husbands and wives, parents and children, masters and
servants, natives and strangers, high and low, rich and poor, strong
and weak, friends and enemies. The very meditation of it breeds good
blood and generous thoughts; and instructs us in honor, humanity,
friendship, piety, gratitude, prudence, and justice. In short, the art
and skill of conferring benefits is, of all human duties, the most
absolutely necessary to the well-being, both of reasonable nature, and
of every individual; as the very cement of all communities, and the
blessing of particulars. He that does good to another man does good
also to himself; not only in the consequence, but in the very act of
doing it; for the conscience of well-doing is an ample reward.

Of benefits in general, there are several sorts; as _necessary_,
_profitable_, and _delightful_. Some things there are, without which
we _cannot_ live; others without which we _ought not_ to live; and
some, again, without which we _will not_ live. In the first rank are
those which deliver us from capital dangers, or apprehensions of
death: and the favor is rated according to the hazard; for the greater
the extremity, the greater seems the obligation. The next is a case
wherein we may indeed live, but we had better die; as in the question
of liberty, modesty, and a good conscience. In the third place, follow
those things which custom, use, affinity, and acquaintance, have made
dear to us; as husbands, wives, children, friends, etc., which an
honest man will preserve at his utmost peril. Of things profitable
there is a large field, as money, honor, etc., to which might be
added, matters of superfluity and pleasure. But we shall open a way
to the circumstances of a benefit by some previous and more general
deliberations upon the thing itself.



We shall divide _benefits_ into _absolute_ and _vulgar_; the one
appertaining to good life, the other is only matter of commerce. The
former are the more excellent, because they can never be made void;
whereas all material benefits are tossed back and forward, and change
their master. There are some offices that look like benefits, but are
only desirable conveniences, as wealth, etc., and these a wicked man
may receive from a good, or a good man from an evil. Others, again,
that bear the face of injuries, which are only benefits ill taken; as
cutting, lancing, burning, under the hand of a surgeon. The greatest
benefits of all are those of good education, which we receive from our
parents, either in the state of ignorance or perverseness; as, their
care and tenderness in our infancy; their discipline in our childhood,
to keep us to our duties by fear; and, if fair means will not do,
their proceeding afterwards to severity and punishment, without which
we should never have come to good. There are matters of great value,
many times, that are but of small price; as instructions from a tutor,
medicine from a physician, etc. And there are small matters again,
which are of great consideration to us: the gift is small, and the
consequence great; as a cup of cold water in a time of need may save a
man’s life. Some things are of great moment to the giver, others to the
receiver: one man gives me a house; another snatches me out when it is
falling upon my head; one gives me an estate; another takes me out of
the fire, or casts me out a rope when I am sinking. Some good offices
we do to friends, others to strangers; but those are the noblest that
we do without pre-desert. There is an obligation of bounty, and an
obligation of charity; this in case of necessity, and that in point of
convenience. Some benefits are common, others are personal; as if a
prince (out of pure grace) grant a privilege to a city, the obligation
lies upon the community, and only upon every individual as a part of
the whole; but if it be done particularly for my sake, then am I singly
the debtor for it. The cherishing of strangers is one of the duties
of hospitality, and exercises itself in the relief and protection of
the distressed. There are benefits of good counsel, reputation, life,
fortune, liberty, health, nay, and of superfluity and pleasure. One man
obliges me out of his pocket; another gives me matter of ornament and
curiosity; a third, consolation. To say nothing of negative benefits;
for there are that reckon it an obligation if they do a body no hurt;
and place it to account, as if they saved a man, when they do not undo
him. To shut up all in one word; as benevolence is the most sociable of
all virtues, so it is of the largest extent; for there is not any man,
either so great or so little, but he is yet capable of giving and of
receiving benefits.



The question is (in the first place) whether it may not be possible
for a father to owe more to a son, in other respects, than the son
owes to his father for his being? That many sons are both greater and
better than their fathers, there is no question; as there are many
other things that derive their beings from others, which yet are far
greater than their original. Is not the tree larger than the seed? the
river than the fountain? The foundation of all things lies hid, and
the superstructure obscures it. If I owe all to my father, because he
gives me life, I may owe as much to a physician that saved his life;
for if my father had not been cured, I had never been begotten: or, if
I stand indebted for all that I am to my beginning, my acknowledgment
must run back to the very original of all human beings. My father gave
me the benefit of life: which he had never done, if his father had not
first given it to him. He gave me life, not knowing to whom; and when
I was in a condition neither to feel death nor to fear it. That is the
great benefit, to give life to one that knows how to use it, and that
is capable of the apprehension of death. It is true, that without a
father I could never have had a being; and so, without a nurse, that
being had never been improved: but I do not therefore owe my virtue
either to my nativity or to her that gave me suck. The generation of me
was the last part of the benefit: for to live is common with brutes;
but to live well is the main business; and that virtue is all my own,
saving what I drew from my education. It does not follow that the
_first_ benefit must be the _greatest_, because without the first the
greatest could never have been. The father gives life to the son but
once; but if the son save the father’s life often, though he do but his
duty, it is yet a greater benefit. And again, the benefit that a man
receives is the greater, the more he needs it; but the living has more
need of life than he that is not yet born; so that the father receives
a greater benefit in the continuance of his life than the son in the
beginning of it. What if a son deliver his father from the rack; or,
which is more, lay himself down in his place? The giving of him a being
was but the office of a father; a simple act, a benefit given at a
venture: beside that, he had a participant in it, and a regard to his
family. He gave only a single life, and he received a happy one. My
mother brought me into the world naked, exposed, and void of reason;
but my reputation and my fortune are advanced by my virtue. Scipio (as
yet in his minority) rescued his father in a battle with Hannibal, and
afterward from the practices and persecution of a powerful faction;
covering him with consulary honors, and the spoils of public enemies.
He made himself as eminent for his moderation as for his piety and
military knowledge: he was the defender and the establisher of his
country: he left the empire without a competitor, and made himself as
well the ornament of Rome as the security of it: and did not Scipio,
in all this, more than requite his father barely for begetting of him?
Whether did Anchises more for Æneas, in dandling the child in his arms;
or Æneas for his father, when he carried him upon his back through
the flames of Troy, and made his name famous to future ages among the
founders of the Roman Empire? T. Manlius was the son of a sour and
imperious father, who banished him his house as a blockhead, and a
scandal to the family. This Manlius, hearing that his father’s life was
in question, and a day set for his trial, went to the tribune that was
concerned in his cause, and discoursed with him about it: the tribune
told him the appointed time, and withal (as an obligation upon the
young man) that his cruelty to his son would be part of his accusation.
Manlius, upon this, takes the tribune aside, and presenting a poniard
to his breast, “Swear,” says he, “that you will let this cause fall,
or you shall have this dagger in the heart of you; and now it is at
your choice which way you will deliver my father.” The tribune swore
and kept his word, and made a fair report of the whole matter to the
council. He that makes himself famous by his eloquence, justice, or
arms, illustrates his extraction, let it be never so mean; and gives
inestimable reputation to his parents. We should never have heard of
Sophroniscus, but for his son Socrates; nor for Aristo and Gryllus, if
it had not been for Xenophon and Plato.

This is not to discountenance the veneration we owe to parents; nor
to make children the worse, but the better; and to stir up generous
emulations: for, in contests of good offices, both parties are happy;
as well the vanquished as those that overcome. It is the only honorable
dispute that can arise betwixt a father and son, which of the two
shall have the better of the other in the point of benefits.

In the question betwixt a master and a servant, we must distinguish
betwixt benefits, duties, and actions ministerial. By _benefits_, we
understand those good offices that we receive from strangers, which
are voluntary, and may be forborne without blame. _Duties_ are the
parts of a son and wife, and incumbent upon kindred and relations.
_Offices ministerial_ belong to the part of a servant. Now, since it
is the _mind_, and not the _condition_ of a person, that prints the
value upon the benefit, a servant may oblige his master, and so may a
subject his sovereign, or a common soldier his general, by doing more
than he is expressly bound to do. Some things there are, which the law
neither commands nor forbids; and here the servant is free. It would
be very hard for a servant to be chastised for doing less than his
duty, and not thanked for it when he does more. His body, it is true,
is his master’s, but his mind is his own: and there are many commands
which a servant ought no more to obey than a master to impose. There is
no man so great, but he may both need the help and service, and stand
in fear of the power and unkindness, even of the meanest of mortals.
One servant kills his master; another saves him, nay, preserves his
master’s life, perhaps, with the loss of his own: he exposes himself to
torment and death; he stands firm against all threats and batteries:
which is not only a benefit in a servant, but much the greater for his
being so.

When Domitius was besieged in Corfinium, and the place brought to great
extremity, he pressed his servant so earnestly to poison him, that at
last he was prevailed upon to give him a potion; which, it seems, was
an innocent opiate, and Domitius outlived it: Cæsar took the town, and
gave Domitius his life, but it was his servant that gave it him first.

There was another town besieged, and when it was upon the last pinch,
two servants made their escape, and went over to the enemy: upon the
Romans entering the town, and in the heat of the soldiers’ fury, these
two fellows ran directly home, took their mistress out of her house,
and drove her before them, telling every body how barbarously she had
used them formerly, and that they would now have their revenge; when
they had her without the gates, they kept her close till the danger was
over; by which means they gave their mistress her life, and she gave
them their freedom. This was not the action of a servile mind, to do so
glorious a thing, under an appearance of so great a villainy; for if
they had not passed for deserters and parricides, they could not have
gained their end.

With one instance more (and that a very brave one) I shall conclude
this chapter.

In the civil wars of Rome, a party coming to search for a person of
quality that was proscribed, a servant put on his master’s clothes,
and delivered himself up to the soldiers as the master of the house;
he was taken into custody, and put to death, without discovering the
mistake. What could be more glorious, than for a servant to die for his
master, in that age, when there were not many servants that would not
betray their masters? So generous a tenderness in a public cruelty;
so invincible a faith in a general corruption; what could be more
glorious, I say, than so exalted a virtue, as rather to choose death
for the reward of his fidelity, than the greatest advantages he might
otherwise have had for the violation of it?



The _good-will_ of the benefactor is the fountain of all benefits;
nay it is the benefit itself, or, at least, the stamp that makes it
valuable and current. Some there are, I know, that take the matter
for the benefit, and tax the obligation by weight and measure. When
anything is given them, they presently cast it up; “What may such a
house be worth? such an office? such an estate?” as if that were the
benefit which is only the sign and mark of it: for the obligation
rests in the mind, not in the matter; and all those advantages which
we see, handle, or hold in actual possession by the courtesy of
another, are but several modes or ways of explaining and putting the
good-will in execution. There needs no great subtlety to prove, that
both benefits and injuries receive their value from the intention,
when even brutes themselves are able to decide this question. Tread
upon a dog by chance, or put him to pain upon the dressing of a wound;
the one he passes by as an accident; and the other, in his fashion, he
acknowledges as a kindness: but, offer to strike at him, though you
do him no hurt at all, he flies yet in the face of you, even for the
mischief that you barely meant him.

It is further to be observed, that all benefits are good; and (like the
distributions of Providence) made up of wisdom and bounty; whereas the
gift itself is neither good nor bad, but may indifferently be applied,
either to the one or to the other. The benefit is immortal, the gift
perishable: for the benefit itself continues when we have no longer
either the use or the matter of it. He that is dead was alive; he that
has lost his eyes, did see; and, whatsoever is done, cannot be rendered
undone. My friend (for instance) is taken by pirates; I redeem him; and
after that he falls into other pirates’ hands; his obligation to me is
the same still as if he had preserved his freedom. And so, if I save
a man from any misfortune, and he falls into another; if I give him a
sum of money, which is afterwards taken away by thieves; it comes to
the same case. Fortune may deprive us of the matter of a benefit, but
the benefit itself remains inviolable. If the benefit resided in the
matter, that which is good for one man would be so for another; whereas
many times the very same thing, given to several persons, work contrary
effects, even to the difference of life or death; and that which is one
body’s cure proves another body’s poison. Beside that, the timing of
it alters the value; and a crust of bread, upon a pinch, is a greater
present than an imperial crown. What is more familiar than in a battle
to shoot at an enemy and kill a friend? or, instead of a friend, to
save an enemy? But yet this disappointment, in the event, does not at
all operate upon the intention. What if a man cures me of a wen with
a stroke that was designed to cut off my head? or, with a malicious
blow upon my stomach, breaks an imposthume? or, what if he saves my
life with a draught that was prepared to poison me? The providence
of the issue does not at all discharge the obliquity of the intent.
And the same reason holds good even in religion itself. It is not the
incense, or the offering, that is acceptable to God, but the purity and
devotion of the worshipper: neither is the bare will, without action,
sufficient, that is, where we have the means of acting; for, in that
case, it signifies as little to _wish_ well, without _well-doing_, as
to _do_ good without _willing_ it. There must be effect as well as
intention, to make me owe a benefit; but, to will against it, does
wholly discharge it. In fine, the conscience alone is the judge, both
of benefits and injuries.

It does not follow now, because the benefit rests in the good-will,
that therefore the good-will should be always a benefit; for if it be
not accompanied with government and discretion, those offices, which we
call _benefits_, are but the works of passion, or of chance; and many
times, the greatest of all injuries. One man does me good by mistake;
another ignorantly; a third upon force: but none of these cases do I
take to be an obligation; for they were neither directed to me, nor
was there any kindness of intention; we do not thank the seas for the
advantages we receive by navigation; or the rivers with supplying us
with fish and flowing of our grounds; we do not thank the trees either
for their fruits or shades, or the winds for a fair gale; and what is
the difference betwixt a reasonable creature that does not know and
an inanimate that cannot? A good _horse_ saves one man’s life; a good
suit of _arms_ another’s; and a _man_, perhaps, that never intended it,
saves a third. Where is the difference now betwixt the obligation of
one and of the other? A man falls into a river, and the fright cures
him of the ague; we may call this a kind of lucky mischance, but not
a remedy. And so it is with the good we receive, either without, or
beside, or contrary to intention. It is the mind, and not the event,
that distinguishes a benefit from an injury.



As it is the _will_ that designs the benefit, and the _matter_ that
conveys it, so it is the _judgment_ that perfects it; which depends
upon so many critical niceties, that the least error, either in the
person, the matter, the manner, the quality, the quantity, the time, or
the place, spoils all.

The consideration of the _person_ is a main point: for we are to give
by choice, and not by hazard. My inclination bids me oblige one man; I
am bound in duty and justice to serve another; here it is a charity,
there it is pity; and elsewhere, perhaps, encouragement. There are some
that want, to whom I would not give; because, if I did, they would want
still. To one man I would barely offer a benefit; but I would press it
upon another. To say the truth, we do not employ any more profit than
that which we bestow; and it is not to our friends, our acquaintances
or countrymen, nor to this or that condition of men, that we are to
restrain our bounties; but wheresoever there is a man, there is a place
and occasion for a benefit. We give to some that are good already; to
others, in hope to make them so: but we must do all with discretion;
for we are as well answerable for what we give as for what we receive;
nay, the misplacing of a benefit is worse than the not receiving of it;
for the one is another man’s fault; but the other is mine. The error
of the giver does oft-times excuse the ingratitude of the receiver:
for a favor ill-placed is rather a profusion than a benefit. It is the
most shameful of losses, an inconsiderate bounty. I will choose a man
of integrity, sincere, considerate, grateful, temperate, well-natured,
neither covetous nor sordid: and when I have obliged such a man, though
not worth a groat in the world, I have gained my end. If we give only
to receive, we lose the fairest objects of our charity: the absent,
the sick, the captive, and the needy. When we oblige those that can
never pay us again in kind, as a stranger upon his last farewell, or a
necessitous person upon his death-bed, we make Providence our debtor,
and rejoice in the conscience even of a fruitless benefit. So long as
we are affected with passions, and distracted with hopes and fears,
and (the most unmanly of vices) with our pleasures, we are incompetent
judges where to place our bounties: but when death presents itself,
and that we come to our last will and testament, we leave our fortunes
to the most worthy. He that gives nothing, but in hopes of receiving,
must die intestate. It is the honesty of another man’s mind that moves
the kindness of mine; and I would sooner oblige a grateful man than
an ungrateful: but this shall not hinder me from doing good also to a
person that is known to be ungrateful: only with this difference, that
I will serve the one in all extremities with my life and fortune, and
the other no farther than stands with my convenience. But what shall
I do, you will say, to know whether a man will be grateful or not? I
will follow probability, and hope the best. He that sows is not sure
to reap; nor the seaman to reach his port; nor the soldier to win
the field: he that weds is not sure his wife shall be honest, or his
children dutiful: but shall we therefore neither sow, sail, bear arms,
nor marry? Nay, if I knew a man to be incurably thankless, I would yet
be so kind as to put him in his way, or let him light a candle at mine,
or draw water at my well; which may stand him perhaps in great stead,
and yet not be reckoned as a benefit from me; for I do it carelessly,
and not for his sake, but my own; as an office of humanity, without any
choice or kindness.



Next to the choice of the _person_ follows that of the _matter_;
wherein a regard must be had to time, place, proportion, quality;
and to the very nicks of opportunity and humor. One man values his
peace above his honor, another his honor above his safety; and not
a few there are that (provided they may save their bodies) never
care what becomes of their souls. So that good offices depend much
upon construction. Some take themselves to be obliged, when they are
not; others will not believe it, when they are; and some again take
obligations and injuries, the one for the other.

For our better direction, let it be noted, “That a benefit is a common
tie betwixt the giver and receiver, with respect to both:” wherefore
it must be accommodated to the rules of discretion; for all things
have their bounds and measures, and so must liberality among the rest;
that it be neither too much for the one nor too little for the other;
the excess being every jot as bad as the defect. Alexander bestowed a
city upon one of his favorites; who modestly excusing himself, “That
it was too much for him to receive.” “Well, but,” says Alexander, “it
is not too much for me to give.” A haughty certainly, and an imprudent
speech; for that which was not fit for the one to take could not be
fit for the other to give. It passes in the world for greatness of mind
to be perpetually giving and loading of people with bounties; but it is
one thing to know how to _give_, and another thing not to know how to
_keep_. Give me a heart that is easy and open, but I will have no holes
in it; let it be bountiful with judgment, but I will have nothing run
out of it I know not how. How much greater was he that refused the city
than the other that offered it? Some men throw away their money as if
they were angry with it, which is the error commonly of weak minds and
large fortunes. No man esteems of anything that comes to him by chance;
but when it is governed by reason, it brings credit both to the giver
and receiver; whereas those favors are, in some sort, scandalous, that
make a man ashamed of his patron.

It is a matter of great prudence, for the benefactor to suit the
benefit to the condition of the receiver: who must be either his
superior, his inferior, or his equal; and that which would be the
highest obligation imaginable to the one, would perhaps be as great a
mockery and affront to the other; as a plate of broken meat (for the
purpose) to a rich man were an indignity, which to a poor man is a
charity. The benefits of princes and of great men, are honors, offices,
monies, profitable commissions, countenance, and protection: the poor
man has nothing to present but good-will, good advice, faith, industry,
the service and hazard of his person, an early apple, peradventure, or
some other cheap curiosity: equals indeed may correspond in kind; but
whatsoever the present be, or to whomsoever we offer it, this general
rule must be observed, that we always design the good and satisfaction
of the receiver, and never grant anything to his detriment. It is not
for a man to say, I was overcome by importunity; for when the fever is
off, we detest the man that was prevailed upon to our destruction. I
will no more undo a man with his will, than forbear saving him against
it. It is a benefit in some cases to grant, and in others to deny; so
that we are rather to consider the advantage than the desire of the
petitioner. For we may in a passion earnestly beg for (and take it ill
to be denied too) that very thing, which, upon second thoughts, we may
come to curse, as the occasion of a most pernicious bounty. Never give
anything that shall turn to mischief, infamy, or shame. I will consider
another man’s want or safety; but so as not to forget my own; unless
in the case of a very excellent person, and then I shall not much
heed what becomes of myself. There is no giving of water to a man in
a fever; or putting a sword into a madman’s hand. He that lends a man
money to carry him to a bawdy-house, or a weapon for his revenge, makes
himself a partaker of his crime.

He that would make an acceptable present, will pitch upon something
that is desired, sought for, and hard to be found; that which he sees
nowhere else, and which few have; or at least not in that place or
season; something that may be always in his eye, and mind him of his
benefactor. If it be lasting and durable, so much the better; as plate,
rather than money; statues than apparel; for it will serve as a monitor
to mind the receiver of the obligation, which the presenter cannot so
handsomely do. However, let it not be improper, as arms to a woman,
books to a clown, toys to a philosopher: I will not give to any man
that which he cannot receive, as if I threw a ball to a man without
hands; but I will make a _return_, though he cannot receive it; for my
business is not to oblige him, but to free myself: nor anything that
may reproach a man of his vice or infirmity; as false dice to a cheat;
spectacles to a man that is blind. Let it not be unseasonable neither;
as a furred gown in summer, an umbrella in winter. It enhances the
value of the present, if it was never given to him by anybody else, nor
by me to any other; for that which we give to everybody is welcome to

The particularity does much, but yet the same thing may receive
a different estimate from several persons; for there are ways of
marking and recommending it in such a manner, that if the same _good
office_ be done to twenty people, every one of them shall reckon
himself peculiarly obliged as a cunning whore, if she has a thousand
sweethearts, will persuade every one of them she loves him best. But
this is rather the artifice of conversation than the virtue of it.

The citizens of Megara send ambassadors to Alexander in the height of
his glory, to offer him, as a compliment, the freedom of their city.
Upon Alexander’s smiling at the proposal, they told him, that it was
a present which they had never made but to Hercules and himself.
Whereupon Alexander treated them kindly, and accepted of it; not for
the presenters’ sake, but because they had joined him with Hercules;
now unreasonably soever; for Hercules conquered nothing for himself,
but made his business to vindicate and to protect the miserable,
without any private interest or design; but this intemperate young
man (whose virtue was nothing else but a successful temerity) was
trained up from his youth in the trade of violence; the common enemy
of mankind, as well of his friends as of his foes, and one that valued
himself upon being terrible to all mortals: never considering, that the
dullest creatures are as dangerous and as dreadful, as the fiercest;
for the poison of a toad, or the tooth of a snake, will do a man’s
business, as sure as the paw of a tiger.



There is not any benefit so glorious in itself, but it may yet be
exceedingly sweetened and improved by the _manner_ of conferring it.
The virtue, I know, rests in the _intent,_ the profit in the judicious
application of the _matter_; but the beauty and ornament of an
obligation lies in the _manner_ of it; and it is then perfect when the
dignity of the office is accompanied with all the charms and delicacies
of humanity, good-nature, and address; and with dispatch too; for he
that puts a man off from time to time, was never right at heart.

In the first place, whatsoever we give, let us do it _frankly_: a
kind benefactor makes a man happy as _soon_ as he can, and as _much_
as he can. There should be no _delay_ in a benefit but the modesty
of the receiver. If we cannot forsee the request, let us, however,
immediately grant it, and by no means suffer the repeating of it. It
is so grievous a thing to say, _I BEG_; the very word puts a man out
of countenance; and it is a double kindness to do the thing, and save
an honest man the confusion of a blush. It comes too late that comes
for the asking: for nothing costs us so dear as that we purchase with
our prayers: it is all we give, even for heaven itself; and even there
too, where our petitions are at the fairest, we choose rather to
present them in secret ejaculations than by word of mouth. That is the
lasting and the acceptable benefit that meets the receiver half-way.
The rule is, we are to _give_, as we would _receive_, _cheerfully_,
_quickly_, and without _hesitation_; for there is no grace in a benefit
that sticks to the fingers. Nay, if there should be occasion for delay,
let us, however, not seem to deliberate; for _demurring_ is next door
to _denying_; and so long as we suspend, so long are we unwilling. It
is a court-humor to keep people upon the tenters; their injuries are
quick and sudden, but their benefits are slow. Great ministers love
to rack men with attendance, and account it an ostentation of their
power to hold their suitors in hand, and to have many witnesses of
their interest. A benefit should be made acceptable by all possible
means, even to the end that the receiver, who is never to forget it,
may bear it in his mind with satisfaction. There must be no mixture of
sourness, severity, contumely, or reproof, with our obligations; nay,
in case there should be any occasion for so much as an admonition, let
it be referred to another time. We are a great deal apter to remember
injuries than benefits; and it is enough to forgive an obligation that
has the nature of an offence.

There are some that spoil a good office after it is done and others,
in the very instant of doing it. There be so much entreaty and
importunity; nay, if we do but suspect a petitioner, we put on a sour
face; look another way; pretend haste, company, business; talk of other
matters, and keep him off with artificial delays, let his necessities
be never so pressing; and when we are put to it at last, it comes so
hard from us that it is rather extorted than obtained; and not so
properly the giving of a bounty, as the quitting of a man’s hold upon
the tug, when another is too strong for him; so that this is but doing
one kindness for me, and another for himself: he gives for his own
quiet, after he has tormented me with difficulties and delays. The
_manner_ of _saying_ or of _doing_ any thing, goes a great way in the
value of the thing itself. It was well said of him that called a good
office, that was done harshly, and with an ill will, a _stony piece
of bread_; it is necessary for him that is hungry to receive it, but
it almost chokes a man in the going down. There must be no pride,
arrogance of looks, or tumor of words, in the bestowing of benefits; no
insolence of behavior, but a modesty of mind, and a diligent care to
catch at occasions and prevent necessities. A pause, an unkind tone,
word, look, or action, destroys the grace of a courtesy. It corrupts a
bounty, when it is accompanied with state, haughtiness, and elation of
mind, in the giving of it. Some have a trick of shifting off a suitor
with a point of wit, or a cavil. As in the case of the Cynic that
begged a talent of Antigonus: “That is too much,” says he, “for a Cynic
to ask;” and when he fell to a penny, “That is too little,” says he,
“for a prince to give.” He might have found a way to have compounded
this controversy, by giving him a _penny_ as to a _Cynic_ and a
_talent_ as from a _prince_. Whatsoever we bestow, let it be done with
a frank and cheerful countenance: a man must not give with his hand,
and deny with his looks. He that gives quickly, gives willingly.

We are likewise to accompany _good deeds_ with _good words,_ and say,
(for the purpose,) “Why should you make such a matter of this? why
did not you come to me sooner? why would you make use of any body
else? I take it ill that you should bring me a recommendation; pray
let there be no more of this, but when you have occasion hereafter,
come to me upon your own account.” That is the glorious bounty, when
the receiver can say to himself; “What a blessed day has this been
to me! never was any thing done so generously, so tenderly, with so
good a grace. What is it I would not do to serve this man? A thousand
times as much another way could not have given me this satisfaction.”
In such a case, let the benefit be never so considerable, the manner
of conferring it is yet the noblest part. Where there is harshness of
language, countenance, or behavior, a man had better be without it. A
flat denial is infinitely before a vexatious delay: as a quick death is
a mercy, compared with a lingering torment. But to be put to waitings
and intercessions, after a promise is passed, is a cruelty intolerable.
It is troublesome to stay long for a benefit, let it be never so great;
and he that holds me needlessly in pain, loses two precious things,
time, and the proof of friendship. Nay, the very hint of a man’s want
comes many times too late. “If I had money,” said Socrates, “I would
buy me a cloak.” They that knew he wanted one should have prevented
the very intimation of that want. It is not the value of the present,
but the benevolence of the mind, that we are to consider. “He gave me
but a little, but it was generously and frankly done; it was a little
out of a little: he gave it me without asking; he pressed it upon me;
he watched the opportunity of doing it, and took it as an obligation
upon himself.” On the other side, many benefits are great in show, but
little or nothing perhaps in effect, when they come hard, slow, or at
unawares. That which is given with pride and ostentation, is rather an
ambition than a bounty.

Some favors are to be conferred in _public_, others in _private_.
In _public_ the rewards of great actions; as honors, charges, or
whatsoever else gives a man reputation in the world; but the good
offices we do for a man in want, distress, or under reproach, these
should be known only to those that have the benefit of them. Nay, not
to them neither, if we can handsomely conceal it from whence the favor
came; for the secrecy, in many cases, is a main part of the benefit.
There was a good man that had a friend, who was both poor and sick,
and ashamed to own his condition: he privately conveyed a bag of money
under his pillow, that he might seem rather to find than receive it.
Provided I know that I give it, no matter for his knowing from whence
it comes that receives it. Many a man stands in need of help that has
not the face to confess it: if the discovery may give offence, let it
lie concealed; he that gives to be seen would never relieve a man in
the dark. It would be too tedious to run through all the niceties that
may occur upon this subject; but, in two words, he must be a wise, a
friendly, and a well-bred man, that perfectly acquits himself in the
art and duty of obliging: for all his actions must be squared according
to the measures of _civility_, _good-nature_ and _discretion._



We have already spoken of _benefits_ in _general_; the _matter_ and
the _intention_, together with the _manner_ of conferring them. It
follows now, in course, to say something of the _value_ of them; which
is rated, either by the good they do us, or by the inconvenience they
save us, and has no other standard than that of a judicious regard
to circumstance and occasion. Suppose I save a man from drowning,
the advantage of life is all one to him, from what hand soever it
comes, or by what means; but yet there may be a vast difference in the
obligation. I may do it with hazard, or with security, with trouble, or
with ease; willingly, or by compulsion; upon intercession, or without
it: I may have a prospect of vain-glory or profit: I may do it in
kindness to another, or an hundred _by-ends_ to myself; and every point
does exceedingly vary the case. Two persons may part with the same sum
of money, and yet not the same benefit: the one had it of his _own_,
and it was but a _little_ out of a _great deal_; the other _borrowed_
it, and bestowed upon me that which he wanted for himself. Two boys
were sent out to fetch a certain person to their master: the one of
them hunts up and down, and comes home again weary, without finding
him; the other falls to play with his companions at the wheel of
Fortune, sees him by chance passing by, delivers him his errand, and
brings him. He that found him by chance deserves to be punished; and he
that sought for him, and missed him, to be rewarded for his good-will.

In some cases we value the _thing_, in others the _labor_ and
_attendance_. What can be more precious than good manners, good
letters, life, and health? and yet we pay our physicians and tutors
only for their service in the professions. If we buy things cheap, it
matters not, so long as it is a bargain: it is no obligation from the
seller, if nobody else will give him more for it. What would not a
man give to be set ashore in a tempest? for a house in a wilderness?
a shelter in a storm? a fire, or a bit of meat, when a man is pinched
with hunger or cold? a defence against thieves, and a thousand other
matters of moment, that cost but little? And yet we know that the
skipper has but his freight for our passage; and the carpenters and
bricklayers do their work by the day. Those are many times the greatest
obligations in truth, which in vulgar opinions are the smallest: as
comfort to the sick, poor captives; good counsel, keeping of people
from wickedness, etc. Wherefore we should reckon ourselves to owe most
for the noblest benefits. If the physician adds care and friendship
to the duty of his calling, and the tutor to the common method of his
business, I am to esteem them as the nearest of my relations: for to
watch with me, to be troubled for me, and to put off all other patients
for my sake, is a particular kindness: and so it is in my tutor, if
he takes more pains with me than with the rest of my fellows. It is
not enough, in this case, to pay the one his fees, and the other his
salary; but I am indebted to them over and above for their friendship.
The meanest of mechanics, if he does his work with industry and care,
it is an usual thing to cast in something by way of reward more than
the bare agreement: and shall we deal worse with the preservers of our
lives, and the reformers of our manners? He that gives me himself (if
he be worth taking) gives the greatest benefit: and this is the present
which Æschines, a poor disciple of Socrates, made to his master, and as
a matter of great consideration: “Others may have given you much,” says
he, “but I am the only man that has left nothing to himself.” “This
gift,” says Socrates, “you shall never repent of; for I will take care
to return it better than I found it.” So that a brave mind can never
want matter for liberality in the meanest condition; for Nature has
been so kind to us, that where we have nothing of Fortune’s, we may
bestow something of our own.

It falls out often, that a benefit is followed with an injury; let
which will be foremost, it is with the latter as with one writing
upon another; it does in a great measure hide the former, and keep it
from appearing, but it does not quite take it away. We may in some
cases divide them, and both requite the one, and revenge the other;
or otherwise compare them, to know whether I am creditor or debtor.
You have obliged me in my servant, but wounded me in my brother; you
have saved my son, but have destroyed my father; in this instance, I
will allow as much as piety, and justice, and good nature, will bear;
but I am not willing to set an injury against a benefit. I would
have some respect to the time; the obligation came first; and then,
perhaps, the one was designed, the other against his will; under these
considerations I would amplify the benefit, and lessen the injury; and
extinguish the one with the other; nay, I would pardon the injury even
_without_ the benefit, but much more _after_ it. Not that a man can be
bound by one benefit to suffer all sorts of injuries; for there are
some cases wherein we lie under no obligation for a benefit; because
a greater injury absolves it: as, for example, a man helps me out of
a law-suit, and afterwards commits a rape upon my daughter; where the
following impiety cancels the antecedent obligation. A man lends me a
little money, and then sets my house on fire; the debtor is here turned
creditor, when the injury outweighs the benefit. Nay, if a man does
but so much as repent the good office done, and grow sour and insolent
upon it, and upbraid me with it; if he did it only for his own sake, or
for any other reason than for mine, I am in some degree, more or less,
acquitted of the obligation. I am not at all beholden to him that makes
me the instrument of his own advantage. He that does me good for his
own sake, I will do him good for mine.

Suppose a man makes suit for a place, and cannot obtain it, but upon
the ransom of ten slaves out of the galleys. If there be ten, and
_no more_, they owe him nothing for their redemption; but _they_ are
indebted to him for the choice, where he might have taken ten others
as well as these. Put the case again, that by an act of grace so many
prisoners are to be released, their names to be drawn by lot, and mine
happens to come out among the rest: one part of my obligation is to him
that put me in a capacity of freedom, and the other is to Providence
for my being one of that number. The greatest benefits of all have no
witnesses, but lie concealed in the conscience.

There is a great difference betwixt a common obligation and a
particular; he that lends my country money, obliges me only as a part
of the whole. Plato crossed the river, and the ferry-man would take no
money of him: he reflected upon it as honor done to himself; and told
him, “That Plato was in debt.” But Plato, when he found it to be no
more than he did for others, recalled his words, “For,” says he, “Plato
will owe nothing in particular for a benefit in common; what I owe with
others, I will pay with others.”

Some will have it that the necessity of wishing a man well is some
abatement to the obligation in the doing of him a good office. But I
say, on the contrary, that it is the greater; because the good-will
cannot be changed. It is one thing to say, that a man could not but
do me this or that civility, because he was forced to do it; and
another thing, that he could not quit the good-will of doing it. In
the former case, I am a debtor to him that imposeth the force, in
the other to himself. The unchangeable good-will is an indispensable
obligation: and, to say, that nature cannot go out of her course, does
not discharge us of _what we owe to Providence_. Shall he be said to
will, that may change his mind the next moment? and shall we question
the will of the Almighty, whose nature admits no change? Must the
stars quit their stations, and fall foul one upon another? must the
sun stand still in the middle of his course, and heaven and earth drop
into confusion? must a devouring fire seize upon the universe; the
harmony of the creation be dissolved; and the whole frame of nature
swallowed up in a dark abyss; and will nothing less than this serve to
convince the world of their audacious and impertinent follies? It is
not to say, that _these heavenly bodies are not made for us_; for in
part they are so; and we are the better for their virtues and motions,
whether we will or not; though, undoubtedly, the principal cause is
the unalterable law of God. Providence is not moved by anything from
without; but the Divine will is an everlasting law, an immutable
decree; and the impossibility of variation proceeds from God’s purpose
of preserving; for he never repents of his first counsels. It is not
with our heavenly as with our earthly father. God thought of us and
provided for us, before he made us: (for unto him all future events
are present.) Man was not the work of chance; his mind carries him
above the slight of fortune, and naturally aspires to the contemplation
of heaven and divine mysteries. How desperate a frenzy is it now to
undervalue, nay, to contemn and to disclaim these divine blessings,
without which we are utterly incapable of enjoying any other!



It passes in the world for a generous and magnificent saying, that “it
is a shame for a man to be outdone in courtesy;” and it is worth the
while to examine, both the truth of it, and the mistake. First, there
can be no shame in a virtuous emulation; and, secondly, there can be
no victory without crossing the cudgels, and yielding the cause. One
man may have the advantage of strength, of means, of fortune; and this
will undoubtedly operate upon the events of good purposes, but yet
without any diminution to the virtue. The good will may be the same in
both, and yet one may have the heels of the other; for it is not in a
good office as in a course, where he wins the plate that comes first to
the post: and even there also, chance has many times a great hand in
the success. Where the contest is about benefits; and that the one has
not only a _good will_, but _matter_ to work upon, and a power to put
that good intent in execution; and the other has barely a _good-will_,
without either the _means_, or the _occasion_, of a requital; if he
does but affectionately wish it, and endeavor it, the latter is no more
overcome in courtesy than he is in courage that dies with his sword in
his hand, and his face to the enemy, and without shrinking maintains
his station: for where _fortune_ is _par__tial_, it is enough that
the _good-will_ is _equal_. There are two errors in this proposition:
first, to imply that a good man may be overcome; and then to imagine
that anything shameful can befall him. The Spartans prohibited all
those exercises where the victory was declared by the confession of
the contendant. The 300 Fabii were never said to be _conquered_, but
_slain_; nor Regulus to be _overcome_, though he was taken _prisoner_
by the Carthaginians. The mind may stand firm under the greatest malice
and iniquity of fortune; and yet the giver and receiver continue upon
equal terms: as we reckon it a drawn battle, when two combatants are
parted, though the one has lost more blood than the other. He that
knows how to owe a courtesy, and heartily wishes that he could requite
it, is invincible; so that every man may be as grateful as he pleases.
It is your happiness to give, it is my fortune that I can only receive.
What advantage now has your chance over my virtue? But there are some
men that have philosophized themselves almost out of the sense of human
affections; as Diogenes, that walked naked and unconcerned through
the middle of Alexander’s treasures, and was, as well in other men’s
opinions as in his own, even above Alexander himself, who at that
time had the whole world at his feet: for there was more that the one
scorned to take than that the other had it in his power to give: and it
is a greater generosity for a beggar to refuse money than for a prince
to bestow it. This is a remarkable instance of an immovable mind, and
there is hardly any contending with it; but a man is never the less
valiant for being worsted by an invulnerable enemy; nor the fire one
jot the weaker for not consuming an incombustible body; nor a sword
ever a whit the worse for not cleaving a rock that is impenetrable;
neither is a grateful mind overcome for want of an answerable fortune.
No matter for the inequality of the things given and received, so long
as, in point of good affection, the two parties stand upon the same
level. It is no shame not to overtake a man, if we follow him as fast
as we can. That tumor of a man, the vain-glorious Alexander, was used
to make his boast, that never any man went beyond him in benefits; and
yet he lived to see a poor fellow in a tub, to whom there was nothing
that he could give, and from whom there was nothing that he could take

Nor is it always necessary for a poor man to fly to the sanctuary of
an invincible mind to quit scores with the bounties of a plentiful
fortune; but it does often fall out, that the returns which he cannot
make in _kind_ are more than supplied in _dignity_ and _value_.
Archelaus, a king of Macedon, invited Socrates to his palace: but he
excused himself, as unwilling to receive greater benefits than he
was able to requite. This perhaps was not _pride_ in Socrates, but
_craft_; for he was afraid of being forced to accept of something
which might possibly have been unworthy of him; beside, that he was
a man of liberty, and loath to make himself a voluntary slave. The
truth of it is, that Archelaus had more need of Socrates than Socrates
of Archelaus; for he wanted a man to teach him the art of life and
death, and the skill of government, and to read the book of Nature to
him, and show him the light at noon-day: he wanted a man that, when
the sun was in an eclipse, and he had locked himself up in all the
horror and despair imaginable; he wanted a man, I say, to deliver
him from his apprehensions, and to expound the prodigy to him, by
telling him, that there was no more in it than only that the _moon_
was got betwixt the _sun_ and the _earth_, and all would be well again
presently. Let the world judge now, whether Archelaus’ _bounty_, or
Socrates’ _philosophy_, would have been the greater present: he does
not understand the value of wisdom and friendship that does not know
a wise friend to be the noblest of presents. A rarity scarce to be
found, not only in a family, but in an age; and nowhere more wanted
than where there seems to be the greatest store. The greater a man is,
the more need he has of him; and the more difficulty there is both
of finding and of knowing him. Nor is it to be said, that “I cannot
requite such a benefactor because I am poor, and have it not;” I can
give good counsel; a conversation wherein he may take both delight and
profit; freedom of discourse, without flattery; kind attention, where
he deliberates; and faith inviolable where he trusts; I may bring him
to a love and knowledge of truth; deliver him from the errors of his
credulity, and teach him to distinguish betwixt friends and parasites.



There are many cases, wherein a man speaks of himself as of another.
As, for example, “I may thank myself for this; I am angry at myself; I
hate myself for that.” And this way of speaking has raised a dispute
among the Stoics, “whether or not a man may give or return a benefit to
himself?” For, say they, if I may hurt myself, I may oblige myself; and
that which were a benefit to another body, why is it not so to myself?
And why am I not as criminal in being ungrateful to myself as if I were
so to another body? And the case is the same in flattery and several
other vices; as, on the other side, it is a point of great reputation
for a man to command himself. Plato thanked Socrates for what he had
_learned_ of him; and why might not Socrates as well thank Plato for
that which he had _taught_ him? “That which you want,” says Plato,
“borrow it of yourself.” And why may not I as well give to myself as
lend? If I may be angry with myself, I may thank myself; and if I chide
myself, I may as well commend myself, and do myself good as well as
hurt; there is the same reason of contraries: it is a common thing to
say, “Such a man hath done himself an injury.” If an injury, why not a
benefit? But I say, that no man can be a debtor to himself; for the
benefit must naturally precede the acknowledgment; and a debtor can
no more be without a creditor than a husband without a wife. Somebody
must give, that somebody may receive; and it is neither giving nor
receiving, the passing of a thing from one hand to the other. What
if a man should be ungrateful in the case? there is nothing lost;
for he that gives it has it: and he that gives and he that receives
are one and the same person. Now, properly speaking, no man can be
said to bestow any thing upon himself, for he obeys his nature, that
prompts every man to do himself all the good he can. Shall I call him
liberal, that gives to himself; or good-natured, that pardons himself;
or pitiful, that is affected with his own misfortunes? That which
were bounty, clemency, compassion, to another, to myself is nature.
A benefit is a voluntary thing; but to do good to myself is a thing
necessary. Was ever any man commended for getting out of a ditch, or
for helping himself against thieves? Or what if I should allow, that a
man might confer a benefit upon himself; yet he cannot owe it, for he
returns it in the same instant that he receives it. No man gives, owes,
or makes a return, but to another. How can one man do that to which two
parties are requisite in so many respects? Giving and receiving must
go backward and forward betwixt two persons. If a man give to himself,
he may sell to himself; but to sell is to alienate a thing, and to
translate the right of it to another; now, to make a man both the giver
and the receiver is to unite two contraries. That is a benefit, which,
when it is given, may possibly not be requited; but he that gives to
himself, must necessarily receive what he gives; beside, that all
benefits are given for the receiver’s sake, but that which a man does
for himself, is for the sake of the giver.

This is one of those subtleties, which, though hardly worth a man’s
while, yet it is not labor absolutely lost neither. There is more of
trick and artifice in it than solidity; and yet there is matter of
diversion too; enough perhaps to pass away a winter’s evening, and keep
a man waking that is heavy-headed.



The question now before us requires _distinction_ and _caution_. For
though it be both natural and generous to wish well to my friend’s
friend, yet a _second-hand benefit_ does not bind me any further than
to a _second-hand gratitude_: so that I may receive great satisfaction
and advantage from a good office done to my friend, and yet lie under
no obligation myself; or, if any man thinks otherwise, I must ask
him, in the first place, Where it begins? and, How it extends? that
it may not be boundless. Suppose a man obliges the son, does that
obligation work upon the father? and why not upon the uncle too? the
brother? the wife? the sister? the mother? nay, upon all that have any
kindness for him? and upon all the lovers of his friends? and upon all
that love them too? and so _in infinitum_. In this case we must have
recourse, as is said heretofore, to the intention of the benefactor,
and fix the obligation upon him unto whom the kindness was directed.
If a man manures my ground, keeps my house from burning or falling,
it is a benefit to me, for I am the better for it, and my house and
land are insensible. But if he save the life of my son, the benefit is
to my son; it is a joy and a comfort to me, but no obligation. I am
as much concerned as I ought to be in the health, the felicity, and
the welfare of my son, as happy in the enjoyment of him; and I should
be as unhappy as is possible in his loss; but it does not follow that
I must of necessity lie under an obligation for being either happier
or less miserable, by another body’s means. There are some benefits,
which although conferred upon one man, may yet work upon others; as
a sum of money may be given to a poor man for his own sake, which in
the consequence proves the relief of his whole family; but still the
immediate receiver is the debtor for it; for the question is not, to
whom it comes afterward to be transferred, but who is the principal?
and upon whom it was first bestowed? My son’s life is as dear to me
as my own; and in saving him you preserve me too: in this case I will
acknowledge myself obliged to you, that is to say, in my son’s name;
for in my own, and in strictness, I am not; but I am content to make
myself a voluntary debtor. What if he had borrowed money? my paying
of it does not at all make it my debt. It would put me to the blush
perhaps to have him taken in bed with another man’s wife; but that does
not make me an adulterer. It is a wonderful delight and satisfaction
that I receive in his safety; but still this good is not a benefit. A
man may be the better for an animal, a plant, a stone; but there must
be a will, an intention, to make it an obligation. You save the son
without so much as knowing the father, nay, without so much as thinking
of him; and, perhaps you would have done the same thing even if you had
hated him.

But without any further alteration of dialogue, the conclusion is this;
if you meant him the kindness, he is answerable for it, and I may enjoy
the fruit of it without being obliged by it: but if it was done for
my sake, then I am accountable; or howsoever, upon any occasion, I am
ready to do you all the kind offices imaginable; not as the return of
a benefit, but as the earnest of a friendship; which you are not to
challenge neither, but to entertain as an act of honor and of justice,
rather than of gratitude. If a man find the body of my dead father in
a desert, and give it a burial; if he did it as to my father, I am
beholden to him: but if the body was unknown to him, and that he would
have done the same thing for any other body, I am no farther concerned
in it than as a piece of public humanity.

There are, moreover, some cases wherein an unworthy person may be
obliged and for the sake of others: and the sottish extract of an
ancient nobilty may be preferred before a better man that is but of
yesterday’s standing. And it is but reasonable to pay a reverence
even to the memory of eminent virtues. He that is not illustrious in
himself, may yet be reputed so in the right of his ancestors: and
there is a gratitude to be entailed upon the offspring of famous
progenitors. Was it not for the _father’s_ sake that Cicero the _son_
was made counsel? and was it not the eminence of one Pompey that raised
and dignified the rest of his family? How came Caligula to be emperor
of the world? a man so cruel, that he spilt blood as greedily as if
he were to drink it; the empire was not given to himself, but to his
father Germanicus. A brave man deserved that for him, which he could
never have challenged upon his own merit. What was it that preferred
Fabius Persicus, (whose very mouth was the uncleanest part about him,)
what was it but the 300 of that family that so generously opposed the
enemy for the safety of the commonwealth?

Nay, Providence itself is gracious to the wicked posterity of an
honorable race. The counsels of heaven are guided by wisdom, mercy, and
justice. Some men are made kings of their proper virtues, without any
respect to their predecessors: others for their ancestors’ sakes, whose
virtues, though neglected in their lives, come to be afterward rewarded
in their issues. And it is but equity, that our gratitude should extend
as far as the influence of their heroical actions and examples.



We come now to the main point of the matter in question: that is to
say, whether or not it be a thing desirable in itself, the giving and
receiving of benefits? There is a sect of philosophers that accounts
nothing valuable but what is profitable, and so makes all virtue
mercenary; an unmanly mistake to imagine, that the hope of gain, or
fear of loss, should make a man either the more or less honest. As
who should say, “What will I get by it, and I will be an honest man?”
Whereas, on the contrary, honesty is a thing in itself to be purchased
at any rate. It is not for a body to say, “It will be a charge, a
hazard, I shall give offence,” etc. My business is to do what I ought
to do: all other considerations are foreign to the office. Whensoever
my duty calls me, it is my part to attend, without scrupulizing upon
forms or difficulties. Shall I see an honest man oppressed at the bar,
and not assist him, for fear of a court faction? or not second him upon
the highway against thieves, for fear of a broken head? and choose
rather to sit still, the quiet spectator of fraud and violence? Why
will men be just, temperate, generous, brave, but because it carries
along with it fame and a good conscience? and for the same reason, and
no other, (to apply it to the subject in hand,) let a man also be
bountiful. The school of Epicurus, I am sure, will never swallow this
doctrine: (that effeminate tribe of lazy and voluptuous philosophers;)
they will tell you, that virtue is but the servant and vassal of
pleasure. “No,” says Epicurus, “I am not for pleasure neither without
virtue.” But, why then for pleasure, say I, _before_ virtue? Not that
the stress of the controversy lies upon the _order_ only; for the
_power_ of it, as well as the _dignity_, is now under debate. It is
the office of virtue to superintend, to lead, and to govern; but the
parts you have assigned it, are to submit, to follow, and to be under
command. But this, you will say, is nothing to the purpose, so long as
both sides are agreed, that there can be no happiness without _virtue_:
“Take away that,” says Epicurus, “and I am as little a friend to
pleasure as you.” The pinch, in short, is this, whether virtue itself
be the supreme good or the only cause of it? It is not the inverting of
the order that will clear this point; (though it is a very preposterous
error, to set that first which should be last.) It does not half
so much offend me; ranging of pleasure before virtue, as the very
comparing of them; and the bringing of the two opposites, and professed
enemies, into any sort of competition.

The drift of this discourse is, to support the cause of benefits; and
to prove, that it is a mean and dishonorable thing to give for any
other end than for giving’s sake. He that gives for gain, profit, or
any by-end, destroys the very intent of bounty; for it falls only upon
those that do not want, and perverts the charitable inclinations of
princes and of great men, who cannot reasonably propound to themselves
any such end. What does the sun get by travelling about the universe;
by visiting and comforting all the quarters of the earth? Is the whole
creation made and ordered for the good of mankind, and every particular
man only for the good of himself? There passes not an hour of our
lives, wherein we do not enjoy the blessings of Providence, without
measure and without intermission. And what design can the Almighty have
upon us, who is in himself full, safe, and inviolable? If he should
give only for his own sake, what would become of poor mortals, that
have nothing to return him at best but dutiful acknowledgments? It is
putting out of a benefit to interest only to bestow where we may place
it to advantage.

Let us be liberal then, after the example of our great Creator, and
give to others with the same consideration that he gives to us.
Epicurus’s answer will be to this, that God gives no benefits at all,
but turns his back upon the world; and without any concern for us,
leaves Nature to take her course: and whether he does anything himself,
or nothing, he takes no notice, however, either of the good or of the
ill that is done here below. If there were not an ordering and an
over-ruling Providence, how comes it (say I, on the other side) that
the universality of mankind should ever have so unanimously agreed in
the madness of worshipping a power that can neither hear nor help us?
Some blessings are freely given us; others upon our prayers are granted
us; and every day brings forth instances of great and of seasonable
mercies. There never was yet any man so insensible as not to feel, see,
and understand, a Deity in the ordinary methods of nature, though many
have been so obstinately ungrateful as not to confess it; nor is any
man so wretched as not to be a partaker in that divine bounty. Some
benefits, it is true, may appear to be unequally divided; but it is
no small matter yet that we possess in common: and which Nature has
bestowed upon us in her very self. If God be not bountiful, whence is
it that we have all that we pretend to? That which we give, and that
which we deny, that which we lay up, and that which we squander away?
Those innumerable delights for the entertainment of our eyes, our
ears, and our understandings? nay, that copious matter even for luxury
itself? For care is taken, not only for our necessities, but also for
our pleasures, and for the gratifying of all our senses and appetites.
So many pleasant groves; fruitful and salutary plants; so many fair
rivers that serve us, both for recreation, plenty, and commerce:
vicissitudes of seasons; varieties of food, by nature made ready to our
hands, and the whole creation itself subjected to mankind for health,
medicine and dominion. We can be thankful to a friend for a few acres,
or a little money: and yet for the freedom and command of the whole
earth, and for the great benefits of our being, as life, health, and
reason, we look upon ourselves as under no obligation. If a man bestows
upon us a house that is delicately beautified with paintings, statues,
gildings, and marble, we make a mighty business of it, and yet it lies
at the mercy of a puff of wind, the snuff of a candle, and a hundred
other accidents, to lay it in the dust. And is it nothing now to sleep
under the canopy of heaven, where we have the globe of the earth for
our place of repose, and the glories of the heavens for our spectacle?
How comes it that we should so much value what we have, and yet at
the same time be so unthankful for it? Whence is it that we have our
breath, the comforts of light and of heat, the very blood that runs in
our veins? the cattle that feed us, and the fruits of the earth that
feed them? Whence have we the growth of our bodies, the succession of
our ages, and the faculties of our minds? so many veins of metals,
quarries of marble, etc. The seed of everything is in itself, and it is
the blessing of God that raises it out of the dark into act and motion.
To say nothing of the charming varieties of music, beautiful objects,
delicious provisions for the palate, exquisite perfumes, which are cast
in, over and above, to the common necessities of our being.

All this, says Epicurus, we are to ascribe to Nature. And why not to
God, I beseech ye? as if they were not both of them one and the same
power, working in the whole, and in every part of it. Or, if you call
him the Almighty Jupiter; the Thunderer; the Creator and Preserver of
us all: it comes to the same issue; some will express him under the
notion of _Fate_; which is only a connexion of causes, and himself the
uppermost and original, upon which all the rest depend. The Stoics
represent the several _functions_ of the _Almighty Power_ under
several _appellations_. When they speak of him as the father and the
fountain of all beings, they call him _Bacchus_: and under the name of
_Hercules_, they denote him to be _indefatigable_ and _invincible_; and
in the contemplation of him in the _reason_, _order_, _proportion_, and
_wisdom_ of his proceedings, they call him _Mercury_; so that which way
soever they look, and under what name soever they couch their meaning,
they never fail of finding him; for he is everywhere, and fills his
own work. If a man should borrow money of Seneca, and say that he owes
it to Amnæus or Lucius, he may change the name but not his creditor;
for let him take which of the three names he pleases, he is still a
debtor to the same person. As justice, integrity, prudence, frugality,
fortitude, are all of them goods of one and the same mind, so that
whichsoever of them pleases us, we cannot distinctly say that it is
this or that, but the mind.

But, not to carry this digression too far; that which God himself does,
we are sure is well done; and we are no less sure, that for whatsoever
he gives, he neither wants, expects, nor receives, anything in return;
so that the end of a benefit ought to be the advantage of the receiver;
and that must be our scope without any by-regard to ourselves. It is
objected to us, the singular caution we prescribe in the choice of the
person: for it were a madness, we say, for a husbandman to sow the
sand: which, if true, say they, you have an eye upon profit, as well
in giving as in plowing and sowing. And then they say again, that if
the conferring of a benefit were desirable in itself, it would have
no dependence upon the choice of a man; for let us give it when, how,
or wheresoever we please, it would be still a benefit. This does not
at all affect our assertion; for the person, the matter, the manner,
and the time, are circumstances absolutely necessary to the reason of
the action: there must be a right judgment in all respects to make it
a benefit. It is my duty to be true to a trust, and yet there may be
a time or a place, wherein I would make little difference betwixt the
renouncing of it and the delivering of it up; and the same rule holds
in benefits; I will neither render the one, nor bestow the other, to
the damage of the receiver. A wicked man will run all risks to do
an injury, and to compass his revenge; and shall not an honest man
venture as far to do a good office? All benefits must be gratuitous. A
merchant sells me the corn that keeps me and my family from starving;
but he sold it for his interests, as well as I bought it for mine;
and so I owe him nothing for it. He that gives for profit, gives to
himself; as a physician or a lawyer, gives counsel for a fee, and only
makes use of me for his own ends; as a grazier fats his cattle to
bring them to a better market. This is more properly the driving of a
trade than the cultivating of a generous commerce. This for that, is
rather a truck than a benefit; and he deserves to be cozened that gives
any thing in hope of a return. And in truth, what end should a man
honorably propound? not _profit_; sure that is _vulgar_ and _mechanic_;
and he that does not contemn it can never be grateful. And then for
_glory_, it is a mighty matter indeed for a man to boast of doing his
duty. We are to _give_, if it were only to avoid _not giving_; if any
thing comes of it, it is clear gain; and, at worst, there is nothing
lost; beside, that one benefit well placed makes amends for a thousand
miscarriages. It is not that I would exclude the benefactor neither for
being himself the better for a good office he does for another. Some
there are that do us good only for their own sakes; others for ours;
and some again for both. He that does it for me in common with himself,
if he had a prospect upon both in the doing it, I am obliged to him for
it; and glad with all my heart that he had a share in it. Nay, I were
ungrateful and unjust if I should not rejoice, that what was beneficial
to me might be so likewise to himself.

To pass now to the matter of gratitude and ingratitude. There never
was any man yet so wicked as not to approve of the one, and detest
the other; as the two things in the whole world, the one to be the
most abominated, the other the most esteemed. The very story of an
ungrateful action puts us out of all patience, and gives us a loathing
for the author of it. “That inhuman villain,” we cry, “to do so horrid
a thing:” not, “that inconsiderate fool for omitting so profitable a
virtue;” which plainly shows the sense we naturally have, both of the
one and of the other, and that we are led to it by a common impulse of
reason and of conscience. Epicurus fancies God to be without power,
and without arms; above fear himself, and as little to be feared. He
places him betwixt the orbs, solitary and idle, out of the reach of
mortals, and neither hearing our prayers nor minding our concerns;
and allows him only such a veneration and respect as we pay to our
parents. If a man should ask him now, why any reverence at all, if we
have no obligation to him, or rather, why that greater reverence to his
fortuitous atoms? his answer would be, that it was for their majesty
and their admirable nature, and not out of any hope or expectation from
them. So that by his proper confession, a thing may be desirable for
its own worth. But, says he, gratitude is a virtue that has commonly
profit annexed to it. And where is the virtue, say I, that has not? but
still the virtue is to be valued for itself, and not for the profit
that attends it. There is no question, but gratitude for benefits
received is the ready way to procure more; and in requiting one friend
we encourage many: but these accessions fall in by the by; and if I
were sure that the doing of good offices would be my ruin, I would yet
pursue them. He that visits the sick, in hope of a legacy, let him be
never so friendly in all other cases, I look upon him in this to be no
better than a raven, that watches a weak sheep only to peck out the
eyes of it. We never give with so much judgment or care, as when we
consider the honesty of the action, without any regard to the profit of
it; for our understandings are corrupted by fear, hope, and pleasure.



If the world were wise, and as honest as it should be, there would be
no need of caution or precept how to behave ourselves in our several
stations and duties; for both the giver and the receiver would do what
they ought to do on their own accord: the one would be bountiful, and
the other grateful, and the only way of minding a man of one good turn
would be the following of it with another. But as the case stands, we
must take other measures, and consult the best we can, the common ease
and relief of mankind.

As there are several sorts of ungrateful men, so there must be several
ways of dealing with them, either by artifice, counsel, admonition,
or reproof, according to the humor of the person, and the degree of
the offence: provided always, that as well in the reminding a man of
a benefit, as in the bestowing of it, the good of the receiver be
the principal thing intended. There is a curable ingratitude, and an
incurable; there is a slothful, a neglectful, a proud, a dissembling, a
disclaiming, a heedless, a forgetful, and a malicious ingratitude; and
the application must be suited to the matter we have to work upon. A
gentle nature may be reclaimed by authority, advice, or reprehension;
a father, a husband, a friend may do good in the case. There are a sort
of lazy and sluggish people, that live as if they were asleep, and must
be lugged and pinched to wake them. These men are betwixt grateful
and ungrateful; they will neither deny an obligation nor return it,
and only want quickening. I will do all I can to hinder any man from
ill-doing, but especially a friend; and yet more especially from doing
ill to me. I will rub up his memory with new benefits: if that will not
serve, I will proceed to good counsel, and from thence to rebuke: if
all fails, I will look upon him as a desperate debtor, and even let him
alone in his ingratitude, without making him my enemy: for no necessity
shall ever make me spend time in wrangling with any man upon that point.

Assiduity of obligation strikes upon the conscience as well as the
memory, and pursues an ungrateful man till he becomes grateful: if one
good office will not do it, try a second, and then a third. No man can
be so thankless, but either shame, occasion, or example, will, at some
time or other, prevail upon him. The very beasts themselves, even lions
and tigers, are gained by good usage: beside, that one obligation does
naturally draw on another; and a man would not willingly leave his own
work imperfect. “I have helped him thus far, and I will even go through
with it now.” So that, over and above the delight and the virtue of
obliging, one good turn is a shouting-horn to another. This, of all
hints, is perhaps the most effectual, as well as the most generous.

In some cases it must be carried more home: as in that of Julius Cæsar,
who, as he was hearing a cause, the defendant finding himself pinched;
“Sir,” says he, “do not you remember a strain you got in your ankle
when you commanded in Spain; and that a soldier lent you his cloak
for a cushion, upon the top of a craggy rock, under the shade of a
little tree, in the heat of the day?” “I remember it perfectly well,”
says Cæsar, “and that when I was ready to choke with thirst, an honest
fellow fetched me a draught of water in his helmet.” “But that man, and
that helmet,” says the soldier, “does Cæsar think that he could not
know them again, if he saw them?” “The man, perchance, I might,” says
Cæsar, somewhat offended, “but not the helmet. But what is the story
to my business? you are none of the man.” “Pardon me, Sir,” says the
soldier, “I am that very man; but Cæsar may well forget me: for I have
been trepanned since, and lost an eye at the battle of Munda, where
that helmet too had the honor to be cleft with a Spanish blade.” Cæsar
took it as it was intended: and it was an honorable and a prudent way
of refreshing his memory. But this would not have gone down so well
with Tiberius: for when an old acquaintance of his began his address
to him with, “You remember, Cæsar.” “No,” says Cæsar, (cutting him
short,) “I do not remember what I WAS.” Now, with him, it was better
to be forgotten than remembered; for an _old friend_ was as bad as an
_informer_. It is a common thing for men to hate the authors of their
preferment, as the witnesses of their mean original.

There are some people well enough disposed to be grateful, but
they cannot hit upon it without a prompter; they are a little like
school-boys that have treacherous memories; it is but helping them
here and there with a word, when they stick, and they will go through
with their lesson; they must be taught to be thankful, and it is a
fair step, if we can but bring them to be willing, and only offer
at it. Some benefits we have neglected; some we are not willing to
remember. He is ungrateful that disowns an obligation, and so is he
that dissembles it, or to his power does not requite it; but the worst
of all is he that forgets it. Conscience, or occasion, may revive the
rest; but here the very memory of it is lost. Those eyes that cannot
endure the light are weak, but those are stark blind that cannot see
it. I do not love to hear people say, “Alas! poor man, he has forgotten
it,” as if that were the excuse of ingratitude, which is the very cause
of it: for if he were not ungrateful, he would not be forgetful, and
lay that out of the way which should be always uppermost and in sight.
He that thinks as he ought to do, of requiting a benefit, is in no
danger of forgetting it. There are, indeed, some benefits so great that
they can never slip the memory; but those which are less in value, and
more in number, do commonly escape us. We are apt enough to acknowledge
that “such a man has been the making of us;” so long as we are in
possession of the advantage he has brought us; but new appetites deface
old kindnesses, and we carry our prospect forward to something more,
without considering what we have obtained already. All that is past
we give for lost; so that we are only intent upon the future. When a
benefit is once out of sight, or out of use, it is buried.

It is the freak of many people, they cannot do a good office but they
are presently boasting of it, drunk or sober: and about it goes into
all companies what wonderful things they have done for this man, and
what for the other. A foolish and a dangerous vanity, of a doubtful
friend to make a certain enemy. For these reproaches and contempts will
set everybody’s tongue a walking; and people will conclude that these
things would never be, if there were not something very extraordinary
in the bottom of it. When it comes to that once, there is not any
calumny but fastens more or less, nor any falsehood so incredible, but
in some part or other of it, shall pass for a truth. Our great mistake
is this, we are still inclined to make the most of what we give, and
the least of what we receive; whereas we should do the clean contrary.
“It might have been more, but he had a great many to oblige. It was as
much as he could well spare; but he will make it up some other time,”
etc. Nay, we should be so far from making publication of our bounties,
as not to hear them so much as mentioned without sweetening the matter:
as, “Alas, I owe him a great deal more than that comes to. If it were
in my power to serve him, I should be very glad of it.” And this, too,
not with the figure of a compliment, but with all humanity and truth.
There was a man of quality, that in the triumviral proscription, was
saved by one of Cæsar’s friends, who would be still twitting him with
it; who it was that preserved him, and telling him over and over, “you
had gone to pot, friend, but for me.” “Pr’ythee,” says the proscribed,
“let me hear no more of this, or even leave me as you found me: I am
thankful enough of myself to acknowledge that I owe you my life, but it
is death to have it rung in my ears perpetually as a reproach; it looks
as if you had only saved me to carry me about for a spectacle. I would
fain forget the misfortune that I was once a prisoner, without being
led in triumph every day of my life.”

Oh! the pride and folly of a great fortune, that turns benefits
into injuries! that delights in excesses, and disgraces every thing
it does! Who would receive any thing from it upon these terms? the
higher it raises us, the more sordid it makes us. Whatsoever it gives
it corrupts. What is there in it that should thus puff us up? by
what magic is it that we are so transformed, that we do no longer
know ourselves? Is it impossible for greatness to be liberal without
insolence? The benefits that we receive from our superiors are then
welcome when they come with an open hand, and a clear brow; without
either contumely or state; and so as to prevent our necessities. The
benefit is never the greater for the making of a bustle and a noise
about it: but the benefactor is much the less for the ostentation of
his good deeds; which makes that odious to us, which would otherwise
be delightful. Tiberius had gotten a trick, when any man begged money
of him, to refer him to the senate, where all the petitioners were to
deliver up the names of their creditors. His end perhaps was, to deter
men from asking, by exposing the condition of their fortunes to an
examination. But it was, however, a benefit turned unto a reprehension,
and he made a reproach of a bounty.

But it is not enough yet to forbear the casting of a benefit in a man’s
teeth; for there are some that will not allow it to be so much as
challenged. For an ill man, say they, will not make a return, though it
be demanded, and a good man will do it of himself: and then the asking
of it seems to turn it into a debt. It is a kind of injury to be too
quick with the former: for to call upon him too soon reproaches him, as
if he would not have done it otherwise. Nor would I recall a benefit
from any man so as to force it, but only to receive it. If I let him
quite alone, I make myself guilty of his ingratitude: and undo him for
want of plain dealing. A father reclaims a disobedient son, a wife
reclaims a dissolute husband; and one friend excites the languishing
kindness of another. How many men are lost for want of being touched to
the quick? So long as I am not pressed, I will rather desire a favor,
than so much as mention a requital; but if my country, my family, or
my liberty, be at stake, my zeal and indignation shall overrule my
modesty, and the world shall then understand that I have done all I
could, not to stand in need of an ungrateful man. And in conclusion the
necessity of receiving a benefit shall overcome the shame of recalling
it. Nor is it only allowable upon some exigents to put the receiver in
mind of a good turn, but it is many times for the common advantage of
both parties.



There are some benefits whereof a wicked man is wholly incapable; of
which hereafter. There are others, which are bestowed upon him, not
for his own sake, but for secondary reasons; and of these we have
spoken in part already. There are, moreover, certain common offices
of humanity, which are only allowed him as he is a man, and without
any regard either to vice or virtue. To pass over the first point; the
second must be handled with care and distinction, and not without some
seeming exceptions to the general rule; as first, here is no _choice_
or _intention_ in the case, but it is a good office done him for some
_by-interest_, or by _chance_. Secondly, There is no _judgment_ in
it neither, for it is to a _wicked man_. But to shorten the matter:
without these circumstances it is not properly a benefit; or at least
not to him; for it looks another way. I rescue a friend from thieves,
and the other escapes for company. I discharge a debt for a friend, and
the other comes off too: for they were both in a bond. The third is of
a great latitude, and varies according to the degree of generosity on
the one side, and of wickedness on the other. Some benefactors will
supererogate, and do more than they are bound to do; and some men are
so lewd, that it is dangerous to do them any sort of good; no, not so
much as by way of return or requital.

If the benefactor’s bounty must extend to the bad as well as the
good; put the case, that I promise a good office to an ungrateful
man; we are first to distinguish (as I said before) betwixt a _common
benefit_ and a _personal_; betwixt what is given for _merit_ and what
for _company_. Secondly, Whether or not we know the person to be
ungrateful, and can reasonably conclude, that this vice is _incurable_.
Thirdly, A consideration must be had of the promise, how far that may
oblige us. The two first points are cleared both in one: we cannot
justify any particular kindness for one that we conclude to be a
hopelessly wicked man: so that the force of the promise is in the
single point in question. In the promise of a good office to a wicked
or ungrateful man, I am to blame if I did it knowingly; and I am to
blame nevertheless, if I did it otherwise: but I must yet make it good,
(under due qualifications,) because I promised it; that is to say,
matters continuing in the same state, for no man is answerable for
accidents. I will sup at such a place though it be cold; I will rise
at such an hour though I be sleepy; but if it prove tempestuous, or
that I fall sick of a fever, I will neither do the one nor the other.
I promise to second a friend in a quarrel, or to plead his cause; and
when I come into the field, or into the court, it proves to be against
my father or my brother: I promise to go a journey with him, but there
is no traveling upon the road for robbing; my child is fallen sick; or
my wife is in labor: these circumstances are sufficient to discharge
me; for a promise against law or duty is void in its own nature.

The counsels of a wise man are certain, but events are uncertain: and
yet if I have passed a rash promise, I will in some degree punish the
temerity of making it with the damage of keeping it, unless it turn
very much to my shame or detriment, and then I will be my own confessor
in the point, and rather be once guilty of denying, than always of
giving. It is not with a benefit as with a debt—it is one thing to
trust an ill paymaster, and another thing to oblige an unworthy
person—the one is an ill man, and the other only an ill husband.

There was a valiant fellow in the army, that Philip of Macedon took
particular notice of, and he gave him several considerable marks of
the kindness he had for him. This soldier put to sea and was cast away
upon a coast where a charitable neighbor took him up half dead, carried
him to the house, and there, at his own charge maintained and provided
for him thirty days, until he was perfectly recovered, and, after all,
furnished him over and above, with a viaticum at parting. The soldier
told him the mighty matters that he would do for him in return, so soon
as he should have the honor once again to see his master. To court he
goes, tells Philip of the wreck, but not a syllable of his preserver,
and begs the estate of this very man that kept him alive. It was with
Philip as it was with many other princes, they give they know not
what, especially in a time of war. He granted the soldier his request,
contemplating at the same time, the impossibility of satisfying so many
ravenous appetites as he had to please. When the good man came to be
turned out of all, he was not so mealy-mouthed as to thank his majesty
for not giving away his person too as well as his fortune; but in a
bold, frank letter to Philip, made a just report of the whole story.
The king was so incensed at the abuse, that he immediately commanded
the right owner to be restored to his estate, and the unthankful guest
and soldier to be stigmatized for an example to others.

Should Philip now have kept this promise? First, he owed the soldier
nothing. Secondly, it would have been injurious and impious; and,
lastly, a precedent of dangerous consequence to human society; for it
would have been little less than an interdiction of fire and water to
the miserable, to have inflicted such a penalty upon relieving them; so
that there must be always some tacit exception or reserve: _if I can_,
_if I may_; or, _if matters continue as they were_.

If it should be my fortune to receive a benefit from one that
afterwards betrays his country, I should still reckon myself obliged
to him for such a requital as might stand with my public duty; I
would not furnish him with arms, nor with money or credit, or levy
or pay soldiers; but I should not stick to gratify him at my own
expense with such curiosities as might please him one way without
doing mischief another. I would not do any thing that might contribute
to the support or advantage of his party. But what should I do now
in the case of a benefactor, that should afterwards become not only
mine and my country’s enemy, but the common enemy of mankind! I would
here distinguish betwixt the wickedness of a man and the cruelty of a
beast—betwixt a limited or a particular passion and a sanguinary rage
that extends to the hazard and destruction of human society. In the
former case I would quit scores, that I might have no more to do with
him; but if he comes once to delight in blood, and to act outrages
with greediness—to study and invent torments, and to take pleasure in
them—the law of reasonable nature has discharged me of such a debt.
But this is an impiety so rare that it might pass for a portent, and
be reckoned among comets and monsters. Let us therefore restrain our
discourse to such men as we detest without horror; such men as we see
every day in courts, camps, and upon the seats of justice; to such
wicked men I will return what I have received, without making any
advantage of their unrighteousness.

It does not divert the Almighty from being still gracious, though we
proceed daily in the abuse of his bounties. How many there are that
enjoy the comfort of the light that do not deserve it; that wish they
had never been born! and yet Nature goes quietly on with her work, and
allows them a being, even in despite of their unthankfulness. Such
a knave, we cry, was better used than I: and the same complaint we
extend to Providence itself. How many wicked men have good crops, when
better than themselves have their fruits blasted! Such a man, we say,
has treated me very ill. Why, what should we do, but that very thing
which is done by God himself? that is to say, give to the ignorant,
and persevere to the wicked. All our ingratitude, we see, does not
turn Providence from pouring down of benefits, even upon those that
question whence they come. The wisdom of Heaven does all things with
a regard to the good of the universe, and the blessings of nature
are granted in common, to the worst as well as to the best of men;
for they live promiscuously together; and it is God’s will, that the
wicked shall rather fare the better for the good, than that the good
shall fare the worse for the wicked. It is true that a wise prince
will confer peculiar honors only upon the worthy; but in the dealing
of a public dole, there is no respect had to the manners of the man;
but a thief or traitor shall put in for a share as well as an honest
man. If a good man and a wicked man sail both in the same bottom, it
is impossible that the same wind which favors the one should cross the
other. The common benefits of laws, privileges, communities, letters,
and medicines, are permitted to the bad as well as to the good; and no
man ever yet suppressed a sovereign remedy for fear a wicked man might
be cured with it. Cities are built for both sorts, and the same remedy
works upon both alike. In these cases, we are to set an estimate upon
the persons: there is a great difference betwixt the choosing of a man
and the not excluding him: the law is open to the rebellious as well
as to the obedient: there are some benefits which, if they were not
allowed to all, could not be enjoyed by any. The sun was never made for
me, but for the comfort of the world, and for the providential order
of the seasons; and yet I am not without my private obligation also.
To conclude, he that will oblige the wicked and the ungrateful, must
resolve to oblige nobody; for in some sort or another we are all of us
wicked, we are all of us ungrateful, every man of us.

We have been discoursing all this while how far a wicked man may be
obliged, and the Stoics tell us at last, that he cannot be obliged
at all. For they make him incapable of any good, and consequently
of any benefit. But he has this advantage, that if he cannot be
obliged, he cannot be ungrateful: for if he cannot receive, he is not
bound to return. On the other side, a good man and an ungrateful,
are a contradiction: so that at this rate there is no such thing as
ingratitude in nature. They compare a wicked man’s mind to a vitiated
stomach; he corrupts whatever he receives, and the best nourishment
turns to the disease. But taking this for granted, a wicked man may
yet so far be obliged as to pass for ungrateful, if he does not
requite what he receives: for though it be not a perfect benefit, yet
he receives something like it. There are goods of the mind, the body,
and of fortune. Of the first sort, fools and wicked men are wholly
incapable; to the rest they may be admitted. But why should I call any
man ungrateful, you will say, for not restoring that which I deny to be
a benefit? I answer, that if the receiver take it for a benefit, and
fails of a return, it is ingratitude in him: for that which goes for an
obligation among wicked men, is an obligation upon them: and they may
pay one another in their own coin; the money is current, whether it be
gold or leather, when it comes once to be authorized. Nay, Cleanthes
carries it farther; he that is wanting, says he, to a kind office,
though it be no benefit, would have done the same thing if it had been
one; and is as guilty as a thief is, that has set his booty, and is
already armed and mounted with a purpose to seize it, though he has
not yet drawn blood. Wickedness is formed in the heart; and the matter
of fact is only the discovery and the execution of it. Now, though a
wicked man cannot either receive or bestow a benefit, because he wants
the will of doing good, and for that he is no longer wicked, when
virtue has taken possession of him; yet we commonly call it one, as we
call a man illiterate that is not learned, and naked that is not well
clad; not but that the one can read, and the other is covered.



The three main points in the question of benefits are, first, a
_judicious choice_ in the _object_; secondly, in the _matter_ of our
benevolence; and thirdly, a grateful _felicity_ in the _manner_ of
expressing it. But there are also incumbent upon the benefactor other
considerations, which will deserve a place in this discourse.

It is not enough to do one good turn, and to do it with a good grace
too, unless we follow it with more, and without either upbraiding or
repining. It is a common shift, to charge that upon the ingratitude
of the receiver, which, in truth, is most commonly the levity and
indiscretion of the giver; for all circumstances must be duly weighed
to consummate the action. Some there are that we find ungrateful; but
what with our forwardness, change of humor and reproaches, there are
more that we make so. And this is the business: we give with design,
and most to those that are able to give most again. We give to the
covetous, and to the ambitious; to those that can never be thankful,
(for their desires are insatiable,) and to those that _will_ not.
He that is a tribune would be prætor; the prætor, a consul; never
reflecting upon what he _was_, but only looking forward to what he
_would_ be. People are still computing, _Must I lose this or that
benefit_? If it be lost, the fault lies in the ill bestowing of it;
for rightly placed, it is as good as consecrated; if we be deceived
in another, let us not be deceived in ourselves too. A charitable man
will mend the matter: and say to himself, _Perhaps he has forgot it,
perchance he could not, perhaps he will yet requite it_. A patient
creditor will, of an ill paymaster, in time make a good one; an
obstinate goodness overcomes an ill disposition, as a barren soil is
made fruitful by care and tillage. But let a man be never so ungrateful
or inhuman, he shall never destroy the satisfaction of my having done a
good office.

But what if _others_ will be wicked? does it follow that we must be so
too? If _others_ will be ungrateful, must _we_ therefore be inhuman?
To give and to lose, is nothing; but to lose and to give still, is the
part of a great mind. And the others in effect is the greater loss;
for the one does but lose his benefit, and the other loses himself.
The light shines upon the profane and sacrilegious as well as upon the
righteous. How many disappointments do we meet with in our wives and
children, and yet we couple still? He that has lost one battle hazards
another. The mariner puts to sea again after a wreck. An illustrious
mind does not propose the profit of a good office, but the duty. If the
world be wicked, we should yet persevere in well-doing, even among evil
men. I had rather never receive a kindness than never bestow one: not
to return a benefit is the _greater_ sin, but not to _confer_ it is the
_earlier_. We cannot propose to ourselves a more glorious example than
that of the Almighty, who neither needs nor expects anything from us;
and yet he is continually showering down and distributing his mercies
and his grace among us, not only for our necessities, but also for
our delights; as fruits and seasons, rain and sunshine, veins of water
and of metal; and all this to the wicked as well as to the good, and
without any other end than the common benefit of the receivers. With
what face then can we be mercenary one to another, that have received
all things from Divine Providence _gratis_? It is a common saying, “I
gave such or such a man so much money: I would I had thrown it into
the sea;” and yet the merchant trades again after a piracy, and the
banker ventures afresh after a bad security. He that will do no good
offices after a disappointment, must stand still, and do just nothing
at all. The plow goes on after a barren year: and while the ashes
are yet warm, we raise a new house upon the ruins of a former. What
obligations can be greater than those which children receive from their
parents? and yet should we give them over in their infancy, it were all
to no purpose. Benefits, like grain, must be followed from the seed to
the harvest. I will not so much as leave any place for ingratitude. I
will pursue, and I will encompass the receiver with benefits; so that
let him look which way he will, his benefactor shall be still in his
eye, even when he would avoid his own memory: and then I will remit
to one man because he calls for it; to another, because he does not;
to a third, because he is wicked; and to a fourth, because he is the
contrary. I will cast away a good turn upon a bad man, and I will
requite a good one; the one because it is my duty, and the other that I
may not be in debt.

I do not love to hear any man complain that he has met with a thankless
man. If he has met but with one, he has either been very fortunate or
very careful. And yet care is not sufficient: for there is no way to
escape the hazard of losing a benefit but the not bestowing of it, and
to neglect a duty to myself for fear another should abuse it. It is
_another’s_ fault if he be ungrateful, but it is _mine_ if I do not
give. To find one thankful man, I will oblige a great many that are
not so. The business of mankind would be at a stand, if we should do
nothing for fear of miscarriages in matters of certain event. I will
try and believe all things, before I give any man over, and do all that
is possible that I may not lose a good office and a friend together.
What do I know but _he may misunderstand the obligation? business may
have put it out of his head, or taken him off from it: he may have
slipt his opportunity_. I will say, in excuse of human weakness, that
one man’s memory is not sufficient for all things; it is but a limited
capacity, so as to hold only so much, and no more: and when it is once
full, it must let out part of what it had to take in anything beside;
and the last benefit ever sits closest to us. In our youth we forget
the obligations of our infancy, and when we are men we forget those
of our youth. If nothing will prevail, let him keep what he has and
welcome; but let him have a care of returning evil for good, and making
it dangerous for a man to do his duty. I would no more give a benefit
for such a man, than I would lend money to a beggarly spendthrift; or
deposit any in the hands of a known _knight of the post_. However the
case stands, an ungrateful person is never the better for a reproach;
if he be already hardened in his wickedness, he gives no heed to it;
and if he be not, it turns a doubtful modesty into an incorrigible
impudence: beside that, he watches for all ill words to pick a quarrel
with them.

As the benefactor is not to upbraid a benefit, so neither to delay
it: the one is tiresome, and the other odious. We must not hold men
in hand, as physicians and surgeons do their patients, and keep them
longer in fear and pain than needs, only to magnify the cure. A
generous man gives easily, and receives as he gives, but never exacts.
He rejoices in the return, and judges favorably of it whatever it be,
and contents himself with bare thanks for a requital. It is a harder
matter with some to get the benefit after it is promised than the first
promise of it, there must be so many friends made in the case. One
must be desired to solicit another; and he must be entreated to move
a third; and a fourth must be at last besought to receive it; so that
the author, upon the upshot, has the least share in the obligation. It
is then welcome when it comes free, and without deduction; and no man
either to intercept or hinder, or to detain it. And let it be of such a
quality too, that it be not only delightful in the receiving, but after
it is received; which it will certainly be, if we do but observe this
rule, never to do any thing for another which we would not honestly
desire for ourselves.



There are certain rules in common betwixt the giver and the receiver.
We must do both cheerfully, that the giver may receive the fruit of
his benefit in the very act of bestowing it. It is a just ground of
satisfaction to _see_ a friend pleased; but it is much more to _make_
him so. The intention of the one is to be suited to the intention
of the other; and there must be an emulation betwixt them, whether
shall oblige most. Let the one say, that he has received a benefit,
and let the other persuade himself that he has not returned it. Let
the one say, _I am paid_, and the other, _I am yet in your debt_; let
the benefactor acquit the receiver, and the receiver bind himself.
The frankness of the discharge heightens the obligation. It is in
_conversation_ as in a _tennis-court_; benefits are to be tossed like
balls; the longer the rest, the better are the gamesters. The giver, in
some respect, has the odds, because (as in a race) he starts first, and
the other must use great diligence to overtake him. The return must be
larger than the first obligation to come up to it; and it is a kind of
ingratitude not to render it with interest. In a matter of money, it
is a common thing to pay a debt out of course, and before it be due;
but we account ourselves to owe nothing for a good office; whereas
the benefit increases by delay. So insensible are we of the most
important affair of human life! That man were doubtless in a miserable
condition, that could neither see, nor hear, nor taste, nor feel, nor
smell; but how much more unhappy is he then that, wanting a sense of
benefits, loses the greatest comfort in nature in the bliss of giving
and receiving them? He that takes a benefit as it is meant is in the
right; for the benefactor has then his end, and his only end, when the
receiver is grateful.

The more glorious part, in appearance, is that of the giver; but the
receiver has undoubtedly the harder game to play in many regards.
There are some from whom I would not accept of a benefit; that is to
say, from those upon whom I would not bestow one. For why should I not
scorn to receive a benefit where I am ashamed to own it? and I would
yet be more tender too, where I receive, than where I give; for it is
no torment to be in debt where a man has no mind to pay; as it is the
greatest delight imaginable to be engaged by a friend, whom I should
yet have a kindness for; if I were never so much disobliged. It is a
pain to an honest and a generous mind to lie under a duty of affection
against inclination. I do not speak here of wise men, that love to
do what they ought to do; that have their passions at command; that
prescribe laws to themselves, and keep them when they have done; but of
men in a state of imperfection, that may have a good will perhaps to
be honest, and yet be overborne by the contumacy of their affections.
We must therefore have a care to whom we become obliged; and I would
be much stricter yet in the choice of a creditor for benefits than for
money. In the one case, it is but paying what I had, and the debt is
discharged; in the other, I do not only owe more, but when I have paid
that, I am still in arrear: and this law is the very foundation of
friendship. I will suppose myself a prisoner; and a notorious villain
offers to lay down a good sum of money for my redemption. _First_,
Shall I make use of this money or not? _Secondly_, If I do, what return
shall I make him for it? To the first point, I will take it; but only
as a debt; not as a benefit, that shall ever tie me to a friendship
with him; and, secondly, my acknowledgment shall be only correspondent
to such an obligation. It is a school question, whether or not Brutus,
that thought Cæsar not fit to live, (and put himself at the head of a
conspiracy against him,) could honestly have received his life from
Cæsar, if he had fallen into Cæsar’s power, without examining what
reason moved him to that action? How great a man soever he was in
other cases, without dispute he was extremely out in this, and below
the dignity of his profession. For a Stoic to fear the name of a king,
when yet monarchy is the best state of government; or there to hope for
liberty, where so great rewards are propounded, both for tyrants and
their slaves; for him to imagine ever to bring the laws to their former
state, where so many thousand lives had been lost in the contest, not
so much whether they should serve or not, but who should be their
master: he was strangely mistaken, in the nature and reason of things,
to fancy, that when Julius was gone, somebody else would not start up
in his place, when there was yet a Tarquin found, after so many kings
that were destroyed, either by sword or thunder: and yet the resolution
is, that he might have received it, but not as a benefit; for at that
rate I owe my life to every man that does not take it away.

Græcinus Julius (whom Caligula put to death out of a pure malice to his
virtue) had a considerable sum of money sent him from Fabius Persicus
(a man of great and infamous example) as a contribution towards the
expense of plays and other public entertainments; but Julius would
not receive it; and some of his friends that had an eye more upon the
present than the presenter, asked him, with some freedom, what he meant
by refusing it? “Why,” says he, “do you think that I will take money
where I would not take so much as a glass of wine?” After this Rebilus
(a man of the same stamp) sent him a greater sum upon the same score.
“You must excuse me,” says he to the messenger, “for I would not take
any thing of Persicus neither.”

To match this scruple of receiving money with another of keeping it;
and the sum not above three pence, or a groat at most. There was a
certain Pythagorean that contracted with a cobbler for a pair of shoes,
and some three or four days after, going to pay him his money, the
shop was shut up; and when he had knocked a great while at the door,
“Friend,” says a fellow, “you may hammer your heart out there, for the
man that you look for is dead. And when our friends are dead, we hear
no more news of them; but yours, that are to live again, will shift
well enough,” (alluding to Pythagora’s transmigration). Upon this the
philosopher went away, with his money chinking in his hand, and well
enough content to save it: at last, his conscience took check at it;
and, upon reflection, “Though the man be dead,” says he, “to others, he
is alive to thee; pay him what thou owest him:” and so he went back
presently, and thrust it into his shop through the chink of the door.
Whatever we owe, it is our part to find where to pay it, and to do it
without asking too; for whether the creditor be good or bad, the debt
is still the same.

If a benefit be forced upon me, as from a tyrant, or a superior, where
it may be dangerous to refuse, this is rather obeying than receiving,
where the necessity destroys the choice. The way to know what I have a
mind to do, is to leave me at liberty whether I will do it or not; but
it is yet a benefit, if a man does me good in spite of my teeth; as it
is none, if I do any man good against my will. A man may both hate and
yet receive a benefit at the same time; the money is never the worse,
because a fool that is not read in coins refuses to take it. If the
thing be good for the receiver, and so intended, no matter how ill it
is taken. Nay, the receiver may be obliged, and not know it; but there
can be no benefit which is unknown to the giver. Neither will I, upon
any terms, receive a benefit from a worthy person that may do him a
mischief: it is the part of an enemy to save himself by doing another
man harm.

But whatever we do, let us be sure always to keep a grateful mind.
It is not enough to say, what requital shall a poor man offer to a
prince; or a slave to his patron; when it is the glory of gratitude
that it depends only upon the good will? Suppose a man defends my
fame; delivers me from beggary; saves my life; or gives me liberty,
that is more than life; how shall I be grateful to that man? I will
receive, cherish, and rejoice in the benefit. Take it kindly, and
it is requited: not that the debt itself is discharged, but it is
nevertheless a discharge of the conscience. I will yet distinguish
betwixt the debtor that becomes insolvent by expenses upon whores and
dice, and another that is undone by fire or thieves; nor do I take this
gratitude for a payment, but there is no danger, I presume, of being
arrested for such a debt.

In the return of benefits let us be ready and cheerful but not
pressing. There is as much greatness of mind in the owing of a good
turn as in doing of it; and we must no more force a requital out of
season than be wanting in it. He that precipitates a return, does
as good as say, “I am weary of being in this man’s debt:” not but
that the hastening of a requital, as a good office, is a commendable
disposition, but it is another thing to do it as a discharge; for it
looks like casting off a heavy and a troublesome burden. It is for the
benefactor to say _when_ he will receive it; no matter for the opinion
of the world, so long as I gratify my own conscience; for I cannot be
mistaken in myself, but another may. He that is over solicitous to
return a benefit, thinks the other so likewise to receive it. If he had
rather we should keep it, why should we refuse, and presume to dispose
of his treasure, who may call it in, or let it lie out, at his choice?
It is as much a fault to receive what I ought not, as not to give what
I ought; for the giver has the privilege of choosing his own time of

Some are too proud in the conferring of benefits; others, in the
receiving of them; which is, to say the truth, intolerable. The same
rule serves both sides, as in the case of a father and a son; a husband
and a wife; one friend or acquaintance and another, where the duties
are known and common. There are some that will not receive a benefit
but in private, nor thank you for it but in your ear, or in a corner;
there must be nothing under hand and seal, no brokers, notaries, or
witnesses, in the case: that is not so much a scruple of modesty as a
kind of denying the obligation, and only a less hardened ingratitude.
Some receive benefits so coldly and indifferently, that a man would
think the obligation lay on the other side: as who should say, “Well,
since you will needs have it so, I am content to take it.” Some again
so carelessly, as if they hardly knew of any such thing, whereas we
should rather aggravate the matter: “You cannot imagine how many
you have obliged in this act: there never was so great, so kind, so
seasonable a courtesy.” Furnius never gained so much upon Augustus as
by a speech, upon the getting of his father’s pardon for siding with
Antony: “This grace,” says he, “is the only injury that ever Cæsar did
me: for it has put me upon a necessity of living and dying ungrateful.”
It is safer to affront some people than to oblige them; for the better
a man deserves, the worse they will speak of him: as if the possessing
of open hatred to their benefactors were an argument that they lie
under no obligation. Some people are so sour and ill-natured, that they
take it for an affront to have an obligation or a return offered them,
to the discouragement both of bounty and gratitude together. The not
doing, and the not receiving, of benefits, are equally a mistake. He
that refuses a new one, seems to be offended at an old one: and yet
sometimes I would neither return a benefit, no, nor so much as receive
it, if I might.



He that preaches gratitude, pleads the cause both of God and man; for
without it we can neither be sociable nor religious. There is a strange
delight in the very purpose and contemplation of it, as well as in the
action; when I can say to myself, “I love my benefactor; what is there
in this world that I would not do to oblige and serve him?” Where I
have not the _means_ of a requital, the very _meditation_ of it is
sufficient. A man is nevertheless an artist for not having his tools
about him; or a musician, because he wants his fiddle: nor is he the
less brave because his hands are bound; or the worse pilot for being
upon dry ground. If I have only _will_ to be grateful, I _am_ so. Let
me be upon the wheel, or under the hand of the executioner; let me be
burnt limb by limb, and my whole body dropping in the flames, a good
conscience supports me in all extremes; nay, it is comfortable even
in death itself; for when we come to approach that point, what care
do we take to summon and call to mind all our benefactors, and the
good offices they have done us, that we leave the world fair, and set
our minds in order? Without gratitude, we can neither have security,
peace, nor reputation: and it is not therefore the less desirable,
because it draws many adventitious benefits along with it. Suppose the
sun, the moon, and the stars, had no other business than only to pass
over our heads, without any effect upon our minds or bodies; without
any regard to our health, fruits, or seasons; a man could hardly lift
up his eyes towards the heavens without wonder and veneration, to
see so many millions of radiant lights, and to observe their courses
and revolutions, even without any respect to the common good of the
universe. But when we come to consider that Providence and Nature are
still at work when we sleep, with the admirable force and operation
of their influences and motions, we cannot then but acknowledge their
ornament to be the least part of their value; and that they are more
to be esteemed for their virtues than for their splendor. Their main
end and use is matter of life and necessity, though they may seem to
us more considerable for their majesty and beauty. And so it is with
gratitude; we love it rather for secondary ends, than for itself.

No man can be grateful without contemning those things that put the
common people out of their wits. We must go into banishment; lay
down our lives; beggar and expose ourselves to reproaches; nay, it
is often seen, that loyalty suffers the punishment due to rebellion,
and that treason receives the rewards of fidelity. As the benefits
of it are many and great, so are the hazards; which is the case more
or less of all other virtues: and it were hard, if this, above the
rest, should be both painful and fruitless: so that though we may go
currently on with it in a smooth way, we must yet prepare and resolve
(if need be) to force our passage to it, even if the way were covered
with thorns and serpents; and _fall back_, _fall edge_, we must be
grateful still: grateful for the virtue’s sake, and grateful over and
above upon the point of interest; for it preserves old friends, and
gains new ones. It is not our business to fish for one benefit with
another; and by bestowing a little to get more; or to oblige for any
sort of expedience, but because I ought to do it, and because I love
it, and that to such a degree, that if I could not be grateful without
appearing the contrary, if I could not return a benefit without being
suspected of doing an injury; in despite of infamy itself, I would
yet be grateful. No man is greater in my esteem than he that ventures
the fame to preserve the conscience of an honest man; the one is but
imaginary, the other solid and inestimable. I cannot call him grateful,
who in the instant of returning one benefit has his eye upon another.
He that is grateful for profit or fear, is like a woman that is honest
only upon the score of reputation.

As gratitude is a necessary and a glorious, so it is also an obvious, a
cheap, and an easy virtue; so obvious, that wheresoever there is a life
there is a place for it—so cheap that the covetous man may be grateful
without expense—and so easy that the sluggard may be so, likewise,
without labor. And yet it is not without its niceties too; for there
may be a time, a place or occasion wherein I ought not to return a
benefit; nay, wherein I may better disown it than deliver it.

Let it be understood, by the way, that it is one thing to be grateful
for a good office, and another thing to return it—the good will is
enough in one case, being as much as the one side demands and the other
promises; but the effect is requisite in the other. The physician that
has done his best is acquitted though the patient dies, and so is the
advocate, though the client may lose his cause. The general of an
army, though the battle be lost, is yet worthy of commendation, if he
has discharged all the parts of a prudent commander; in this case, the
one acquits himself, though the other be never the better for it. He
is a grateful man that is always willing and ready: and he that seeks
for all means and occasions of requiting a benefit, though without
attaining his end, does a great deal more than the man that, without
any trouble, makes an immediate return. Suppose my friend a prisoner,
and that I have sold my estate for his ransom; I put to sea in foul
weather, and upon a coast that is pestered with pirates; my friend
happens to be redeemed before I come to the place; my gratitude is as
much to be esteemed as if he had been a prisoner; and if I had been
taken and robbed myself, it would still have been the same case. Nay,
there is a gratitude in the very countenance; for an honest man bears
his conscience in his face, and propounds the requital of a good turn
in the very moment of receiving it; he is cheerful and confident; and,
in the possession of a true friendship, delivered from all anxiety.
There is this difference betwixt a thankful man and an unthankful, the
one is _always_ pleased in the good he has _done_, and the other only
_once_ in what he has _received_. There must be a benignity in the
estimation even of the smallest offices; and such a modesty as appears
to be obliged in whatsoever it gives. As it is indeed a very great
benefit, the opportunity of doing a good office to a worthy man. He
that attends to the present, and remembers what is past, shall never be
ungrateful. But who shall judge in the case? for a man may be grateful
without making a return, and ungrateful with it. Our best way is to
help every thing by a fair interpretation; and wheresoever there is
a doubt, to allow it the most favorable construction; for he that is
exceptious at words, or looks, has a mind to pick a quarrel. For my
own part, when I come to cast up my account, and know what I owe, and
to whom, though I make my return sooner to some, and later to others,
as occasion or fortune will give me leave, yet I will be just to all:
I will be grateful to God, to man, to those that have obliged me: nay,
even to those that have obliged my friends. I am bound in honor and in
conscience to be thankful for what I have received; and if it be not
yet full, it is some pleasure still that I may hope for more. For the
requital of a favor there must be virtue, occasion, means, and fortune.

It is a common thing to screw up justice to the pitch of an injury. A
man may be _over-righteous_; and why not _over-grateful_ too? There is
a mischievous excess, that borders so close upon ingratitude, that it
is no easy matter to distinguish the one from the other: but, in regard
that there is good-will in the bottom of it, (however distempered, for
it is effectually but kindness out of the wits,) we shall discourse it
under the title of _Gratitude mistaken_.



To refuse a good office, not so much because we do not need it, as
because we would not be indebted for it, is a kind of fantastical
ingratitude, and somewhat akin to that nicety of humor, on the other
side, of being over-grateful; only it lies another way, and seems to be
the more pardonable ingratitude of the two. Some people take it for a
great instance of their good-will to be wishing their benefactors such
or such a mischief; only, forsooth, that they themselves may be the
happy instruments of their release.

These men do like extravagant lovers, that take it for a great proof of
their affection to wish one another banished, beggared, or diseased,
that they might have the opportunity of interposing to their relief.
What difference is there betwixt such wishing and cursing? such an
affection and a mortal hatred? The intent is good, you will say, but
this is a misapplication of it. Let such a one fall into my power, or
into the hands of his enemies, his creditors, or the common people, and
no mortal be able to rescue him but myself: let his life, his liberty,
and his reputation, lie all at stake, and no creature but myself in
condition to succor him; and why all this, but because he has obliged
me, and I would requite him? If this be gratitude to propound jails,
shackles, slavery, war, beggary, to the man that you would requite,
what would you do where you are ungrateful? This way of proceeding,
over and above that it is impious in itself, is likewise over-hasty and
unseasonable: for he that goes too fast is as much to blame as he that
does not move at all, (to say nothing of the injustice,) for if I had
never been obliged, I should never have wished it.

There are seasons wherein a benefit is neither to be received nor
requited. To press a return upon me when I do not desire it, is
unmannerly; but it is worse to force me to desire it. How rigorous
would he be to exact a requital; who is thus eager to return it! To
wish a man in distress that I may relieve him, is first to wish him
miserable: to wish that he may stand in need of anybody, is _against
him_; and to wish that he may stand in need of me, is _for myself_:
so that my business is not so much a charity to my friend as the
cancelling of a bond; nay, it is half-way the wish of an enemy. It is
barbarous to wish a man in chains, slavery, or want, only to bring
him out again: let me rather wish him powerful and happy, and myself
indebted to him! By nature we are prone to mercy, humanity compassion;
may we be excited to be more so by the number of the grateful! may
their number increase, and may we have no need of trying them!

It is not for an honest man to make way to a good office by a crime: as
if a pilot should pray for a tempest, that he might prove his skill:
or a general wish his army routed, that he may show himself a great
commander in recovering the day. It is throwing a man into a river to
take him out again. It is an obligation, I confess, to cure a wound or
a disease; but to _make_ that wound or disease on purpose to _cure_ it,
is a most perverse ingratitude. It is barbarous even to an enemy, much
more to a friend; for it is not so much to do him a kindness, as to put
him in need of it. Of the two, let me rather be a scar than a wound;
and yet it would be better to have it neither. Rome had been little
beholden to Scipio if he had prolonged the Punic war that he might
have the finishing of it at last, or to the Decii for dying for their
country, if they had first brought it to the last extremity of needing
their devotion. It may be a good contemplation, but it is a lewd wish.
Æneas had never been surnamed _the Pious_, if he had wished the ruin
of his country, only that he might have the honor of taking his father
out of the fire. It is the scandal of a physician to make work, and
irritate a disease, and to torment his patient, for the reputation of
his cure. If a man should openly imprecate poverty, captivity, fear,
or danger, upon a person that he has been obliged to, would not the
whole world condemn him for it? And what is the difference, but the one
is only a private wish, and the other a public declaration? Rutilius
was told in his exile, that, for his comfort, there would be ere-long
a civil war, that would bring all the banished men home again. “God
forbid,” says he, “for I had rather my country should blush for my
banishment than mourn for my return.” How much more honorable it is to
owe cheerfully, than to pay dishonestly? It is the wish of an enemy
to take a town that he may preserve it, and to be victorious that he
may forgive; but the mercy comes after the cruelty; beside that it is
an injury both to God and man; for the man must be first afflicted by
_Heaven_ to be relieved by _me_. So that we impose the cruelty upon
God, and take the compassion to ourselves; and at the best, it is but
a curse that makes way for a blessing; the bare wish is an injury; and
if it does not take effect, it is because Heaven has not heard our
prayers; or if they should succeed, the fear itself is a torment; and
it is much more desirable to have a firm and unshaken security. It is
friendly to wish it in your power to oblige me, if ever I chance to
need it; but it is unkind to wish me miserable that I may need it. How
much more pious is it, and humane, to wish that I may never want the
occasion of obliging, nor the means of doing it; nor ever have reason
to repent of what I have done?



Ingratitude is of all the crimes, that which we are to account the
most venial in others, and the most unpardonable in ourselves. It
is impious to the highest degree; for it makes us fight against our
children and our altars. There are, there ever were, and there ever
will be criminals of all sorts, as murderers, tyrants, thieves,
adulterers, traitors, robbers and sacrilegious persons; but there
is hardly any notorious crime without a mixture of ingratitude. It
disunites mankind, and breaks the very pillars of society; and yet so
far is this prodigious wickedness from being any wonder to us, that
even thankfulness itself were much the greater of the two; for men
are deterred from it by labor, expense, laziness, business; or else
diverted from it by lust, envy, ambition, pride, levity, rashness,
fear; nay, by the very shame of confessing what they have received. And
the unthankful man has nothing to say for himself all this while, for
there needs neither pains or fortune for the discharge of his duty,
beside the inward anxiety and torment when a man’s conscience makes him
afraid of his own thoughts.

To speak against the ungrateful is to rail against mankind, for even
those that complain are guilty: nor do I speak only of those that
do not live up to the strict rule of virtue; but mankind itself is
degenerated and lost. We live unthankfully in this world, and we go
struggling and murmuring out of it, dissatisfied with our lot, whereas
we should be grateful for the blessings we have enjoyed, and account
that sufficient which Providence has provided for us; a little more
time may make our lives longer but not happier, and whensoever it is
the pleasure of God to call us, we must obey; and yet all this while
we go on quarreling at the world for what we find in ourselves, and
we are yet more unthankful to Heaven than we are to one another. What
benefit can be great now to that man that despises the bounties of his
Maker? We would be as strong as elephants, as swift as bucks, as light
as birds—and we complain that we have not the sagacity of dogs, the
sight of eagles, the long life of ravens—nay, that we are not immortal,
and endued with the knowledge of things to come: nay, we take it ill
that we are not gods upon earth, never considering the advantages
of our condition, or the benignity of Providence in the comforts
that we enjoy. We subdue the strongest of creatures and overtake the
fleetest—we reclaim the fiercest and outwit the craftiest. We are
within one degree of heaven itself, and yet we are not satisfied.

Since there is not any one creature which we had rather be, we take it
ill that we cannot draw the united excellencies of all other creatures
into ourselves. Why are we not rather thankful to that goodness which
has subjected the whole creation to our use and service?

The principal causes of ingratitude are pride and self-conceit,
avarice, envy, etc. It is a familiar exclamation, “It is true he did
this or that for me, but it came so late, and it was so little, I had
even as good have been without it—if he had not given it to me, he must
have given it to somebody else—it was nothing out of his pocket.” Nay,
we are so ungrateful, that he that gives us all we have, if he leaves
any thing to himself, we reckon that he does us an injury.

It cost Julius Cæsar his life by the disappointment of his insatiable
companions; and yet he reserved nothing of all that he got to himself
but the liberty of disposing of it. There is no benefit so large
but malignity will still lessen it; none so narrow, which a good
interpretation will not enlarge. No man shall ever be grateful that
views a benefit on the wrong side, or takes a good office by the wrong
handle. The avaricious man is naturally ungrateful, for he never thinks
he has enough, but, without considering what he has, only minds what
he covets. Some pretend want of power to make a competent return, and
you shall find in others a kind of graceless modesty, that makes a man
ashamed of requiting an obligation, because it is a confession that he
has received one.

Not to return one good office for another is inhuman; but to return
evil for good is diabolical. There are too many even of this sort, who,
the more they owe, the more they hate. There is nothing more dangerous
than to oblige those people; for when they are conscious of not paying
the debt, they wish the creditor out of the way. It is a mortal hatred,
that which arises from the shame of an abused benefit. When we are on
the asking side, what a deal of cringing there is, and profession!
“Well, I shall never forget this favor, it will be an eternal
obligation to me.” But within a while the note is changed, and we
hear no more words of it, until, by little and little, it is all quite
forgotten. So long as we stand in need of a benefit, there is nothing
dearer to us; nor anything cheaper, when we have received it. And yet
a man may as well refuse to deliver up a sum of money that is left him
in trust without a suit, as not to return a good office without asking;
and when we have no value any farther for the benefit, we do commonly
care as little for the author. People follow their interest: one man
is grateful for his convenience, and another man is ungrateful for the
same reason.

Some are ungrateful to their own country, and their country no less
ungrateful to others; so that the complaint of ingratitude reaches
all men. Doth not the son wish for the death of his father, the
husband for that of his wife, etc. But who can look for gratitude
in an age of so many gaping and craving appetites, where all people
take, and none give? In an age of license to all sorts of vanity
and wickedness, as lust, gluttony, avarice, envy, ambition, sloth,
insolence, levity, contumacy, fear, rashness, private discords and
public evils, extravagant and groundless wishes, vain confidences,
sickly affections, shameless impieties, rapine authorized, and the
violation of all things, sacred and profane: obligations are pursued
with sword and poison; benefits are turned into crimes, and that blood
most seditiously spilt for which every honest man should expose his
own. Those that should be the preservers of their country are the
destroyers of it; and it is a matter of dignity to trample upon the
government: the sword gives the law, and mercenaries take up arms
against their masters. Among these turbulent and unruly motions, what
hope is there of finding honesty or good faith, which is the quietest
of all virtues? There is no more lively image of human life than that
of a conquered city; there is neither mercy, modesty, nor religion;
and if we forget our lives, we may well forget our benefits. The
world abounds with examples of ungrateful persons, and no less with
those of ungrateful governments. Was not Catiline ungrateful? whose
malice aimed, not only at the mastering of his country, but at the
total destruction of it, by calling in an inveterate and vindictive
enemy from beyond the Alps, to wreak their long-thirsted-for revenge,
and to sacrifice the lives of as many noble Romans as might serve
to answer and appease the ghosts of the slaughtered Gauls? Was not
Marius ungrateful, that, from a common soldier, being raised up to a
consul, not only gave the world for civil bloodshed and massacres, but
was himself the sign of the execution; and every man he met in the
streets, to whom he did not stretch out his right hand, was murdered?
And was not Sylla ungrateful too? that when he had waded up to the
gates in human blood, carried the outrage into the city, and there most
barbarously cut two entire legions to pieces in a corner, not only
after the victory, but most perfidiously after quarter given them?
Good God! that ever any man should not only escape with impunity, but
receive a reward for so horrid a villainy! Was not Pompey ungrateful
too? who, after three consulships, three triumphs, and so many honors,
usurped before his time, split the commonwealth into three parts,
and brought it to such a pass, that there was no hope of safety but
by slavery only; forsooth, to abate the envy of his power, he took
other partners with him into the government, as if that which was not
lawful for any one might have been allowable for more; dividing and
distributing the provinces, and breaking all into a _triumvirate_,
reserving still two parts of the three in his own family. And was not
Cæsar ungrateful also, though to give him his due, he was a man of his
word; merciful in his victories, and never killed any man but with his
sword in his hand? Let us therefore forgive one another. Only one word
more now for the shame of ungrateful Governments. Was not Camillus
banished? Scipio dismissed? and Cicero exiled and plundered? But, what
is all this to those who are so mad, and to dispute even the goodness
of Heaven, which gives us all, and expects nothing again, but continues
giving to the most unthankful and complaining?



Ingratitude is so dangerous to itself, and so detestable to other
people, that nature, one would think, had sufficiently provided against
it, without need of any other law. For every ungrateful man is his
own enemy, and it seems superfluous to compel a man to be kind to
himself, and to follow in his own inclinations. This, of all wickedness
imaginable, is certainly the vice which does the most divide and
distract human nature. Without the exercise and the commerce of mutual
offices, we can be neither happy nor safe for it is only society that
secures us: take us one by one, and we are a prey even to brutes as
well as to one another.

Nature has brought us into the world naked and unarmed; we have not
the teeth or the paws of lions or bears to make ourselves terrible;
but by the two blessings of reason and union, we secure and defend
ourselves against violence and fortune. This it is that makes man the
master of all other creatures, who otherwise were scarce a match for
the weakest of them. This it is that comforts us in sickness, in age,
in misery, in pains, and in the worst of calamities. Take away this
combination, and mankind is dissociated, and falls to pieces. It is
true, that there is no law established against this abominable vice;
but we cannot say yet that it escapes unpunished, for a public hatred
is certainly the greatest of all penalties; over and above that we lose
the most valuable blessings of life, in the not bestowing and receiving
of benefits. If ingratitude were to be punished by a law, it would
discredit the obligation; for a benefit to be given, not lent: and if
we have no return at all, there is no just cause of complaint: for
gratitude were no virtue, if there were any danger in being ungrateful.
There are halters, I know, hooks and gibbets, provided for homicide
poison, sacrilege, and rebellion; but ingratitude (here upon earth) is
only punished in the schools; all farther pains and inflictions being
wholly remitted to divine justice. And, if a man may judge of the
conscience by the countenance the ungrateful man is never without a
canker at his heart; his mind an aspect is sad and solicitous; whereas
the other is always cheerful and serene.

As there are no laws extant against ingratitude, so is it utterly
impossible to contrive any, that in all circumstances shall reach it.
If it were actionable, there would not be courts enough in the whole
world to try the causes in. There can be no setting a day for the
requiting of benefits as for the payment of money, nor any estimate
upon the benefits themselves; but the whole matter rests in the
conscience of both parties: and then there are so many degrees of it,
that the same rule will never serve all. Beside that, to proportion
it as the benefit is greater or less, will be both impracticable and
without reason. One good turn saves my life; another, my freedom, or
peradventure my very soul. How shall any law now suit a punishment to
an ingratitude under these differing degrees? It must not be said in
benefits as in bonds, _Pay what you owe_. How shall a man pay life,
health, credit, security, in _kind_? There can be no set rule to bound
that infinite variety of cases, which are more properly the subject of
humanity and religion than of law and public justice. There would be
disputes also about the benefit itself, which must totally depend upon
the courtesy of the judge; for no law imaginable can set it forth. One
man _gives_ me an estate; another only _lends_ me a sword, and that
sword preserves my life. Nay, the very same thing, several ways done,
changes the quality of the obligation. A word, a tone, a look, makes a
great alteration in the case. How shall we judge then, and determine
a matter which does not depend upon the fact itself, but upon the
force and intention of it? Some things are reputed benefits, not for
their value, but because we desire them: and there are offices of as
much greater value, that we do not reckon upon at all. If ingratitude
were liable to a law, we must never give but before witnesses, which
would overthrow the dignity of the benefit: and then the punishment
must either be equal where the crimes are unequal, or else it must be
unrighteous, so that blood must answer for blood. He that is ungrateful
for my saving his life must forfeit his own. And what can be more
inhuman than that benefits should conclude in sanguinary events? A
man saves my life, and I am ungrateful for it. Shall I be punished
in my purse? that is too little; if it be less than the benefit, it
is unjust, and it must be capital to be made equal to it. There are,
moreover, certain privileges granted to parents, that can never be
reduced to a common rule. Their injuries may be cognizable, but not
their benefits. The diversity of cases is too large and intricate to
be brought within the prospect of a law: so that it is much more
equitable to punish none than to punish all alike. What if a man
follows a good office with an injury; whether or no shall this quit
scores? or who shall compare them, and weigh the one against the other?
There is another thing yet which perhaps we do not dream of: not one
man upon the face of the earth would escape, and yet every man would
expect to be his judge. Once again, we are all of us ungrateful; and
the number does not only take away the shame, but gives authority and
protection to the wickedness.

It is thought reasonable by some, that there should be a law against
ingratitude; for, say they, it is common for one city to upbraid
another, and to claim that of posterity which was bestowed upon their
ancestors; but this is only clamor without reason. It is objected by
others, as a discouragement to good offices, if men shall not be made
answerable for them; but I say, on the other side, that no man would
accept of a benefit upon those terms. He that gives is prompted to it
by a goodness of mind, and the generosity of the action is lessened
by the caution: for it is his desire that the receiver should please
himself, and owe no more than he thinks fit. But what if this might
occasion fewer benefits, so long as they would be franker? nor is there
any hurt in putting a check upon rashness and profusion. In answer to
this; men will be careful enough when they oblige without a law: nor is
it possible for a judge ever to set us right in it; or indeed, anything
else, but the faith of the receiver. The honor of a benefit is this way
preserved, which is otherwise profaned, when it comes to the mercenary,
and made matter of contention. We are even forward enough of ourselves
to wrangle, without necessary provocations. It would be well, I think,
if moneys might pass upon the same conditions with other benefits, and
the payment remitted to the conscience, without formalizing upon bills
and securities: but human wisdom has rather advised with convenience
than virtue; and chosen rather to _force_ honesty than _expect_ it. For
every paltry sum of money there must be bonds, witnesses, counterparts,
powers, etc., which is no other than a shameful confession of fraud and
wickedness, when more credit is given to our seals than to our minds;
and caution taken lest he that has received the money should deny it.
Were it not better now to be deceived by some than to suspect all? what
is the difference, at this rate, betwixt the benefactor and the usurer,
save only that in the benefactor’s case there is nobody stands bound?




There is not any thing in this world, perhaps, that is more talked
of, and less understood, than the business of a _happy life_. It is
every man’s wish and design; and yet not one of a thousand that knows
wherein that happiness consists. We live, however, in a blind and eager
pursuit of it; and the more haste we make in a wrong way, the further
we are from our journey’s end. Let us therefore, _first_, consider
“what it is we should be at;” and, _secondly_, “which is the readiest
way to compass it.” If we be right, we shall find every day how much
we improve; but if we either follow the cry, or the track, of people
that are out of the way, we must expect to be misled, and to continue
our days in wandering in error. Wherefore, it highly concerns us to
take along with us a skilful guide; for it is not in this, as in other
voyages, where the highway brings us to our place of repose; or if
a man should happen to be out, where the inhabitants might set him
right again: but on the contrary, the beaten road is here the most
dangerous, and the people, instead of helping us, misguide us. Let
us not therefore follow, like beasts, but rather govern ourselves by
_reason_, than by _example_. It fares with us in human life as in a
routed army; one stumbles first, and then another falls upon him, and
so they follow, one upon the neck of another, until the whole field
comes to be but one heap of miscarriages. And the mischief is, “that
the number of the multitude carries it against truth and justice;” so
that we must leave the crowd, if we would be happy: for the question
of a _happy life_ is not to be decided by vote: nay, so far from it,
that plurality of voices is still an argument of the wrong; the common
people find it easier to believe than to judge, and content themselves
with what is usual, never examining whether it be good or not. By the
_common people_ is intended _the man of title_ as well as the _clouted
shoe_: for I do not distinguish them by the eye, but by the mind, which
is the proper judge of the man. Worldly felicity, I know, makes the
head giddy; but if ever a man comes to himself again, he will confess,
that “whatsoever he has done, he wishes undone;” and that “the things
he feared were better than those he prayed for.”

The true felicity of life is to be free from perturbations, to
understand our duties towards God and man: to enjoy the present without
any anxious dependence upon the future. Not to amuse ourselves with
either hopes or fears, but to rest satisfied with what we have, which
is abundantly sufficient; for he that is so, wants nothing. The great
blessings of mankind are within us, and within our reach; but we shut
our eyes, and, like people in the dark, we fall foul upon the very
thing which we search for without finding it. “Tranquillity is a
certain equality of mind, which no condition of fortune can either
exalt or depress.” Nothing can make it less: for it is the state of
human perfection: it raises us as high as we can go; and makes every
man his own supporter; whereas he that is borne up by any thing else
may fall. He that judges aright, and perseveres in it, enjoys a
perpetual calm: he takes a true prospect of things; he observes an
order, measure, a decorum in all his actions; he has a benevolence
in his nature; he squares his life according to reason; and draws to
himself love and admiration. Without a certain and an unchangeable
judgment, all the rest is but fluctuation: but “he that always wills
and nills the same thing, is undoubtedly in the right.” Liberty and
serenity of mind must necessarily ensue upon the mastering of those
things which either allure or affright us; when instead of those flashy
pleasures, (which even at the best are both vain and hurtful together,)
we shall find ourselves possessed of joy transporting and everlasting.
It must be a _sound mind_ that makes a _happy man_; there must be a
constancy in all conditions, a care for the things of this world, but
without trouble; and such an indifferency for the bounties of fortune,
that either with them, or without them, we may live contentedly. There
must be neither lamentation, nor quarrelling, nor sloth, nor fear;
for it makes a discord in a man’s life. “He that fears, serves.” The
joy of a wise man stands firm without interruption; in all places,
at all times, and in all conditions, his thoughts are cheerful and
quiet. As it never _came in_ to him from _without_, so it will never
leave him; but it is born within him, and inseparable from him. It
is a solicitous life that is egged on with the hope of any thing,
though never so open and easy, nay, though a man should never suffer
any sort of disappointment. I do not speak this either as a bar to the
fair enjoyment of lawful pleasures, or to the gentle flatteries of
reasonable expectations: but, on the contrary, I would have men to be
always in good humor, provided that it arises from their own souls,
and be cherished in their own breasts. Other delights are trivial;
they may smooth the brow, but they do not fill and affect the heart.
“True joy is a serene and sober motion;” and they are miserably out
that take _laughing_ for _rejoicing_. The seat of it is within, and
there is no cheerfulness like the resolution of a brave mind, that
has fortune under his feet. He that can look death in the face, and
bid it welcome; open his door to poverty, and bridle his appetites;
this is the man whom Providence has established in the possession of
inviolable delights. The pleasures of the vulgar are ungrounded, thin,
and superficial; but the others are solid and _eternal_. As the _body_
itself is rather a _necessary thing_, than a _great_; so the comforts
of it are but temporary and vain; beside that, without extraordinary
moderation, their end is only pain and repentance; whereas a peaceful
conscience, honest thoughts, virtuous actions, and an indifference for
casual events, are blessings without end, satiety, or measure. This
consummated state of felicity is only a submission to the dictate of
right nature; “The foundation of it is wisdom and virtue; the knowledge
of what we ought to do, and the conformity of the will to that



Taking for granted that _human happiness_ is founded upon _wisdom_ and
_virtue_ we shall treat of these two points in order as they lie: and,
_first_, of _wisdom_; not in the latitude of its various operations but
as it has only a regard to good life, and the happiness of mankind.

Wisdom is a right understanding, a faculty of discerning good from
evil; what is to be chosen, and what rejected; a judgment grounded upon
the value of things, and not the common opinion of them; an equality
of force, and a strength of resolution. It sets a watch over our
words and deeds, it takes us up with the contemplation of the works
of nature, and makes us invincible by either good or evil fortune. It
is large and spacious, and requires a great deal of room to work in;
it ransacks heaven and earth; it has for its object things past and
to come, transitory and eternal. It examines all the circumstances
of time; “what it is, when it began, and how long it will continue:
and so for the mind; whence it came; what it is; when it begins; how
long it lasts; whether or not it passes from one form to another, or
serves only one and wanders when it leaves us; whether it abides in a
state of separation, and what the action of it; what use it makes of
its liberty; whether or not it retains the memory of things past, and
comes to the knowledge of itself.” It is the habit of a perfect mind,
and the perfection of humanity, raised as high as Nature can carry it.
It differs from _philosophy_, as avarice and money; the one desires,
and the other is desired; the one is the effect and the reward of the
other. To be wise is the use of wisdom, as seeing is the use of eyes,
and well-speaking the use of eloquence. He that is perfectly wise is
perfectly happy; nay, the very beginning of wisdom makes life easy to
us. Neither is it enough to know this, unless we print it in our minds
by daily meditation, and so bring a _good-will_ to a good habit. And
we must practice what we preach: for _philosophy_ is not a subject for
popular ostentation; nor does it rest in words, but in things. It is
not an entertainment taken up for delight, or to give a taste to our
leisure; but it fashions the mind, governs our actions, tells us what
we are to do, and what not. It sits at the helm, and guides us through
all hazards; nay, we cannot be safe without it, for every hour gives
us occasion to make use of it. It informs us in all duties of life,
piety to our parents, faith to our friends, charity to the miserable,
judgment in counsel; it gives us _peace_ by _fearing_ nothing, and
_riches_ by _coveting nothing_.

There is no condition of life that excludes a wise man from discharging
his duty. If his fortune be good, he _tempers_ it; if bad, he _masters_
it; if he has an estate, he will exercise his virtue in plenty; if
none, in poverty: if he cannot do it in his country, he will do it in
banishment; if he has no command, he will do the office of a common
soldier. Some people have the skill of reclaiming the fiercest of
beasts; they will make a lion embrace his keeper, a tiger kiss him,
and an elephant kneel to him. This is the case of a wise man in the
extremest difficulties; let them be never so terrible in themselves,
when they come to him once, they are perfectly tame. They that ascribe
the invention of tillage, architecture, navigation, etc., to wise
men, may perchance be in the right, that they were invented by wise
men, as _wise men_; for wisdom does not teach our fingers, but our
minds: fiddling and dancing, arms and fortifications, were the works
of luxury and discord; but wisdom instructs us in the way of nature,
and in the arts of unity and concord, not in the instruments, but in
the government of life; not to make us live only, but to live happily.
She teaches us what things are good, what evil, and what only appear
so; and to distinguish betwixt true greatness and tumor. She clears
our minds of dross and vanity; she raises up our thoughts to heaven,
and carries them down to hell: she discourses of the nature of the
soul, the powers and faculties of it; the first principles of things;
the order of Providence: she exalts us from things corporeal to things
incorporeal, and retrieves the truth of all: she searches nature, gives
laws to life; and tells us, “That it is not enough to God, unless we
obey him:” she looks upon all accidents as acts of Providence: sets a
true value upon things; delivers us from false opinions, and condemns
all pleasures that are attended with repentance. She allows nothing
to be good that will not be so forever; no man to be happy but that
needs no other happiness than what he has within himself. This is the
felicity of human life; a felicity that can neither be corrupted nor
extinguished: it inquires into the nature of the heavens, the influence
of the stars; how far they operate upon our minds and bodies: which
thoughts, though they do not form our manners, they do yet raise and
dispose us for glorious things.

It is agreed upon all hands that “right reason is the perfection of
human nature,” and wisdom only the dictate of it. The greatness that
arises from it is solid and unmovable, the resolutions of wisdom being
free, absolute and constant; whereas folly is never long pleased with
the same thing, but still shifting of counsels and sick of itself.
There can be no happiness without constancy and prudence, for a wise
man is to write without a blot, and what he likes once he approves for
ever. He admits of nothing that is either evil or slippery, but marches
without staggering or stumbling, and is never surprised; he lives
always true and steady to himself, and whatsoever befalls him, this
great artificer of both fortunes turns to advantage; he that demurs
and hesitates is not yet composed; but wheresoever virtue interposes
upon the main, there must be concord and consent in the parts; for
all virtues are in agreement, as well as all vices are at variance. A
wise man, in what condition soever he is will be still happy, for he
subjects all things to himself, because he submits himself to reason,
and governs his actions by council, not by passion.

He is not moved with the utmost violence of fortune, nor with the
extremities of fire and sword; whereas a fool is afraid of his own
shadow, and surprised at ill accidents, as if they were all levelled at
him. He does nothing unwillingly, for whatever he finds necessary, he
makes it his choice. He propounds to himself the certain scope and end
of human life: he follows that which conduces to it, and avoids that
which hinders it. He is content with his lot whatever it be, without
wishing what he has not, though, of the two, he had rather abound than
want. The great business of his life like that of nature, is performed
without tumult or noise. He neither fears danger or provokes it, but
it is his caution, not any want of courage—for captivity, wounds and
chains, he only looks upon as false and lymphatic terrors. He does not
pretend to go through with whatever he undertakes, but to do that well
which he does. Arts are but the servants—wisdom commands—and where the
matter fails it is none of the workman’s fault. He is cautelous in
doubtful cases, in prosperity temperate, and resolute in adversity,
still making the best of every condition and improving all occasions to
make them serviceable to his fate. Some accidents there are, which I
confess may affect him, but not overthrow him, as bodily pains, loss of
children and friends, the ruin and desolation of a man’s country. One
must be made of stone or iron, not to be sensible of these calamities;
and, beside, it were no virtue to _bear_ them, if a body did not _feel_

There are _three degrees of proficients_ in the school of wisdom.
The _first_ are those that come within sight of it, but not up to
it—they have learned what they ought to do, but they have not put
their knowledge in practice—they are past the hazard of a relapse, but
they have still the grudges of a disease, though they are out of the
danger of it. By a disease I do understand an obstinacy in evil, or an
ill habit, that makes us over eager upon things which are either not
much to be desired, or not at all. A _second_ sort are those that have
subjected their appetites for a season, but are yet in fear of falling
back. A _third_ sort are those that are clear of many vices but not of
all. They are not covetous, but perhaps they are choleric—nor lustful,
but perchance ambitious; they are firm enough in some cases but weak
enough in others: there are many that despise death and yet shrink at
pain. There are diversities in wise men, but no inequalities—one is
more affable, another more ready, a third a better speaker; but the
felicity of them all is equal. It is in this as in heavenly bodies,
there is a _certain state_ in greatness.

In civil and domestic affairs, a wise man may stand in need of
counsel, as of a physician, an advocate, a solicitor; but in greater
matters, the blessing of wise men rests in the joy they take in the
communication of their virtues. If there were nothing else in it, a
man would apply himself to wisdom, because it settles him in a perfect
tranquillity of mind.



Virtue is that perfect good which is the complement of a _happy life_;
the only immortal thing that belongs to mortality—it is the knowledge
both of others and itself—it is an invincible greatness of mind, not
to be elevated or dejected with good or ill fortune. It is sociable
and gentle, free, steady, and fearless, content within itself, full of
inexhaustible delights, and it is valued for itself. One may be a good
physician, a good governor, a good grammarian, without being a good
man, so that all things from without are only accessories, for the seat
of it is a pure and holy mind. It consists in a congruity of actions
which we can never expect so long as we are distracted by our passions:
not but that a man may be allowed to change color and countenance, and
suffer such impressions as are properly a kind of natural force upon
the body, and not under the dominion of the mind; but all this while
I will have his judgment firm, and he shall act steadily and boldly,
without wavering betwixt the motions of his body and those of his mind.

It is not a thing indifferent, I know, whether a man lies at ease upon
a bed, or in torment upon a wheel—and yet the former may be the worse
of the two if he suffer the latter with honor, and enjoy the other
with infamy. It is not the _matter_, but the _virtue_, that makes the
action _good or ill_; and he that is led in triumph may be yet greater
than his conqueror.

When we come once to value our flesh above our honesty we are lost:
and yet I would not press upon dangers, no, not so much as upon
inconveniences, unless where the man and the brute come in competition;
and in such a case, rather than make a forfeiture of my credit, my
reason, or my faith, I would run all extremities.

They are great blessings to have tender parents, dutiful children, and
to live under a just and well-ordered government. Now, would it not
trouble even a virtuous man to see his children butchered before his
eyes, his father made a slave, and his country overrun by a barbarous
enemy? There is a great difference betwixt the simple loss of a
blessing and the succeeding of a great mischief in the place of it,
over and above. The loss of health is followed with sickness, and the
loss of sight with blindness; but this does not hold in the loss of
friends and children, where there is rather something to the contrary
to supply that loss: that is to say, _virtue_, which fills the mind,
and takes away the desire of what we have not. What matters it whether
the water be stopped or not, so long as the fountain is safe? Is a man
ever the wiser for a multitude of friends, or the more foolish for the
loss of them? so neither is he the happier, nor the more miserable.
Short life, grief and pain are accessions that have no effect at all
upon virtue. It consists in the action and not in the things we do—in
the choice itself, and not in the subject-matter of it. It is not a
despicable body or condition, nor poverty, infamy or scandal, that
can obscure the glories of virtue; but a man may see her through all
oppositions: and he that looks diligently into the state of a wicked
man will see the canker at his heart, through all the false and
dazzling splendors of greatness and fortune. We shall then discover
our _childishness_, in setting our hearts upon things trivial and
contemptible, and in the selling of our very country and parents for
a _rattle_. And what is the difference (in effect) betwixt _old men_
and _children_, but that the _one_ deals in _paintings_ and _statues_,
and the _other_ in _babies_, so that we ourselves are only the more
expensive fools.

If one could but see the mind of a good man, as it is illustrated with
virtue; the beauty and the majesty of it, which is a dignity not so
much as to be thought of without love and veneration—would not a man
bless himself at the sight of such an object as at the encounter of
some supernatural power—a power so miraculous that it is a kind of
charm upon the souls of those that are truly affected with it. There
is so wonderful a grace and authority in it that even the worst of men
approve it, and set up for the reputation of being accounted virtuous
themselves. They covet the fruit indeed, and the profit of wickedness;
but they hate and are ashamed of the imputation of it. It is by an
impression of Nature that all men have a reverence for virtue—they
know it and they have a respect for it though they do not practice
it—nay, for the countenance of their very _wickedness_, they miscall it
_virtue_. Their injuries they call _benefits_, and expect a man should
thank them for doing him a mischief—they cover their most notorious
iniquities with a pretext of justice.

He that robs upon the highway had rather find his booty than force
it; ask any of them that live upon rapine, fraud, oppression, if they
had not rather enjoy a fortune honestly gotten, and their consciences
will not suffer them to deny it. Men are vicious only for the proof of
villainy; for at the same time that they commit it they condemn it;
nay, so powerful is virtue, and so gracious is Providence, that every
man has a light set up within him for a guide, which we do, all of
us, both see and acknowledge, though we do not pursue it. This it is
that makes the prisoner upon the torture happier than the executioner,
and sickness better than health, if we bear it without yielding or
repining—this it is that overcomes ill-fortune and moderates good—for
it marches betwixt the one and the other, with an equal contempt for
both. It turns (like fire) all things into itself, our actions and our
friendships are tinctured with it, and whatever it touches becomes

That which is frail and mortal rises and falls, grows, wastes, and
varies from itself; but the state of things divine is always the same;
and so is virtue, let the matter be what it will. It is never the worse
for the difficulty of the action, nor the better for the easiness of
it. It is the same in a rich man as in a poor; in a sickly man as in a
sound; in a strong as in a weak; the virtue of the besieged is as great
as that of the besiegers. There are some virtues, I confess, which a
good man cannot be without, and yet he had rather have no occasion to
employ them. If there were any difference, I should prefer the virtues
of patience before those of pleasure; for it is braver to break through
difficulties than to temper our delights. But though the subject of
virtue may possibly be against nature, as to be burnt or wounded, yet
the virtue itself of _an invincible patience_ is according to nature.
We may seem, perhaps, to promise more than human nature is able to
perform; but we speak with a respect to the mind, and not to the body.

If a man does not live up to his own rules, it is something yet to have
virtuous meditations and good purposes, even without acting; it is
generous, the very adventure of being good, and the bare proposal of
an eminent course of life, though beyond the force of human frailty to
accomplish. There is something of honor yet in the miscarriage; nay,
in the naked contemplation of it. I would receive my own death with as
little trouble as I would hear of another man’s; I would bear the same
mind whether I be rich or poor, whether I get or lose in the world;
what I have, I will neither sordidly spare, or prodigally squander
away, and I will reckon upon benefits well-placed as the fairest part
of my possession: not valuing them by number or weight, but by the
profit and esteem of the receiver; accounting myself never the poorer
for that which I give to a worthy person. What I do shall be done for
conscience, not ostentation. I will eat and drink, not to gratify my
palate, or only to fill and empty, but to satisfy nature: I will be
cheerful to my friends, mild and placable to my enemies: I will prevent
an honest request if I can foresee it, and I will grant it without
asking: I will look upon the whole world as my country, and upon the
gods, both as the witnesses and the judges of my words and deeds. I
will live and die with this testimony, that I loved good studies, and a
good conscience; that I never invaded another man’s liberty; and that
I preserved my own. I will govern my life and my thoughts as if the
whole world were to see the one, and to read the other; for “what does
it signify to make anything a secret to my neighbor, when to God (who
is the searcher of our hearts) all our privacies are open?”

Virtue is divided into two parts, _contemplation_ and _action_. The
one is delivered by institution, the other by admonition: one part of
virtue consists in discipline, the other in exercise: for we must first
learn, and then practice. The sooner we begin to apply ourselves to
it, and the more haste we make, the longer shall we enjoy the comforts
of a rectified mind; nay, we have the fruition of it in the very act
of forming it: but it is another sort of delight, I must confess,
that arises from a contemplation of a soul which is advanced into the
possession of wisdom and virtue. If it was so great a comfort to us
to pass from the subjection of our childhood into a state of liberty
and business, how much greater will it be when we come to cast off the
boyish levity of our minds, and range ourselves among the philosophers?
We are past our minority, it is true, but not our indiscretions;
and, which is yet worse, we have the authority of seniors, and the
weaknesses of children, (I might have said of infants, for every little
thing frights the one, and every trivial fancy the other.) Whoever
studies this point well will find that many things are the less to
be feared the more terrible they appear. To think anything good that
is not honest, were to reproach Providence; for good men suffer many
inconveniences; but virtue, like the sun, goes on still with her work,
let the air be never so cloudy, and finishes her course, extinguishing
likewise all other splendors and oppositions; insomuch that calamity is
no more to a virtuous mind, than a shower into the sea. That which is
right, is not to be valued by _quantity_, _number_, or _time_; a life
of a day may be as honest as a life of a hundred years: but yet virtue
in one man may have a larger field to show itself in than in another.
One man, perhaps, may be in a station to administer unto cities and
kingdoms; to contrive good laws, create friendships, and do beneficial
offices to mankind.

For virtue is open to all; as well to servants and exiles, as to
princes: it is profitable to the world and to itself, at all distances
and in all conditions; and there is no difficulty can excuse a man from
the exercise of it; and it is only to be found in a wise man, though
there may be some faint resemblances of it in the common people. The
Stoics hold all virtues to be equal; but yet there is great variety
in the matter they have to work upon, according as it is larger or
narrower, illustrious or less noble, of more or less extent; as all
good men are equal, that is to say, as they are good; but yet one may
be young, another old; one may be rich, another poor; one eminent and
powerful, another unknown and obscure. There are many things which have
little or no grace in themselves, and are yet glorious and remarkable
by virtue. Nothing can be good which gives neither greatness nor
security to the mind; but, on the contrary, infects it with insolence,
arrogance, and tumor: nor does virtue dwell upon the tip of the tongue,
but in the temple of a purified heart. He that depends upon any other
good becomes covetous of life, and what belongs to it; which exposes a
man to appetites that are vast, unlimited, and intolerable. Virtue is
free and indefatigable, and accompanied with concord and gracefulness;
whereas pleasure is mean, servile, transitory, tiresome, and sickly
and scarce outlives the tasting of it: it is the good of the belly,
and not of the man; and only the felicity of brutes. Who does not know
that fools enjoy their pleasures, and that there is great variety in
the entertainments of wickedness? Nay, the mind itself has its variety
of perverse pleasures as well as the body: as insolence, self-conceit,
pride, garrulity, laziness, and the abusive wit of turning everything
into _ridicule_, whereas virtue weighs all this, and corrects it. It is
the knowledge both of others and of itself; it is to be learned from
itself; and the very will itself may be taught; which will cannot be
right, unless the whole habit of the mind be right from whence the will
comes. It is by the impulse of virtue that we love virtue, so that the
very way to virtue, lies by virtue, which takes in also, at a view, the
laws of human life.

Neither are we to value ourselves upon a day, or an hour, or any one
action, but upon the whole habit of the mind. Some men do one thing
bravely, but not another; they will shrink at infamy, and bear up
against poverty: in this case, we commend the fact, and despise the
man. The soul is never in the right place until it be delivered from
the cares of human affairs; we must labor and climb the hill, if we
will arrive at virtue, whose seat is upon the top of it. He that
masters avarice, and is truly good, stands firm against ambition; he
looks upon his last hour not as a punishment, but as the equity of a
common fate; he that subdues his carnal lusts shall easily keep himself
untainted with any other: so that reason does not encounter this or
that vice by itself, but beats down all at a blow. What does he care
for ignominy that only values himself upon conscience, and not opinion?
Socrates looked a scandalous death in the face with the same constancy
that he had before practiced towards the thirty tyrants: his virtue
consecrated the very dungeon: as Cato’s repulse was Cato’s honor, and
the reproach of the government. He that is wise will take delight even
in an ill opinion that is well gotten; it is ostentation, not virtue,
when a man will have his good deeds published; and it is not enough
to be just where there is honor to be gotten, but to continue so, in
defiance of infamy and danger.

But virtue cannot lie hid, for the time will come that shall raise it
again (even after it is buried) and deliver it from the malignity of
the age that oppressed it: immortal glory is the shadow of it, and
keeps it company whether we will or not; but sometimes the shadow
goes before the substance, and other whiles it follows it; and the
later it comes, the larger it is, when even envy itself shall have
given way to it. It was a long time that Democritus was taken for a
madman, and before Socrates had any esteem in the world. How long was
it before Cato could be understood? Nay, he was affronted, contemned,
and rejected; and the people never knew the value of him until they had
lost him: the integrity and courage of mad Rutilius had been forgotten
but for his sufferings. I speak of those that fortune has made famous
for their persecutions: and there are others also that the world never
took notice of until they were dead; as Epicurus and Metrodorus, that
were almost wholly unknown, even in the place where they lived. Now, as
the body is to be kept in upon the down-hill, and forced upwards, so
there are some virtues that require the rein and others the spur. In
_liberality_, _temperance_, _gentleness_ of nature, we are to check
ourselves for fear of falling; but in _patience_, _resolutions_, and
_perseverance_, where we are to mount the hill, we stand in need of
encouragement. Upon this division of the matter, I had rather steer the
smoother course than pass through the experiments of sweat and blood:
I know it is my duty to be content in all conditions; but yet, if it
were at my election, I would choose the fairest. When a man comes once
to stand in need of fortune, his life is anxious, suspicious, timorous,
dependent upon every moment, and in fear of all accidents. How can that
man resign himself to God, or bear his lot, whatever it be, without
murmuring, and cheerfully submit to Providence, that shrinks at every
motion of pleasure or pain? It is virtue alone that raises us above
griefs, hopes, fears and chances; and makes us not only patient, but
willing, as knowing that whatever we suffer is according to the decree
of Heaven. He that is overcome with pleasure, (so contemptible and
weak an enemy) what will become of him when he comes to grapple with
dangers, necessities, torments, death, and the dissolution of nature
itself? Wealth, honor, and favor, may come upon a man by chance; nay,
they may be cast upon him without so much as looking after them: but
virtue is the work of industry and labor; and certainly it is worth the
while to purchase that good which brings all others along with it. A
good man is happy within himself, and independent upon fortune: kind
to his friend, temperate to his enemy, religiously just, indefatigably
laborious; and he discharges all duties with a constancy and congruity
of actions.



If it be true, that the _understanding_ and the _will_ are the _two
eminent faculties of the reasonable soul_, it follows necessarily,
that _wisdom_ and _virtue_, (which are the best improvements of these
two faculties,) must be the perfection also of our _reasonable being_;
and consequently, _the undeniable foundation of a happy life_. There
is not any duty to which Providence has not annexed a blessing; nor
any institution of Heaven which, even in this life, we may not be the
better for; not any temptation, either of fortune or of appetite, that
is not subject to our reason; nor any passion or affliction for which
virtue has not provided a remedy. So that it is our own fault if we
either fear or hope for anything; which two affections are the root of
all our miseries. From this general prospect of the _foundation_ of our
_tranquillity_, we shall pass by degrees to a particular consideration
of the _means_ by which it may be _procured_, and of the _impediments_
that _obstruct_ it; beginning with that _philosophy_ which principally
regards our manners, and instructs us in the measures of a virtuous and
quiet life.

_Philosophy_ is divided into _moral_, _natural_, and _rational_: the
_first_ concerns our _manners_; the _second_ searches the works of
_Nature_; and the _third_ furnishes us with propriety of _words_ and
_arguments_, and the faculty of _distinguishing_, that we may not be
imposed upon with tricks and fallacies. The _causes_ of things fall
under _natural philosophy_, _arguments_ under _rational_, and _actions_
under _moral_. _Moral philosophy_ is again divided into matter of
_justice_, which arises from the estimation of things and of men; and
into _affections_ and _actions_; and a failing in any one of these,
disorders all the rest: for what does it profit us to know the true
value of things, if we be transported by our passion? or to master our
appetites without understanding the _when_, the _what_, the _how_,
and other circumstances of our proceedings? For it is one thing to
know the rate and dignity of things, and another to know the little
nicks and springs of acting. _Natural philosophy_ is conversant about
things _corporeal_ and _incorporeal_; the disquisition of _causes_ and
_effects_, and the contemplation of the _cause of causes_. _Rational
philosophy_ is divided into _logic_ and _rhetoric_; the one looks after
_words_, _sense_, and _order_; the other treats barely of _words_,
and the _significations_ of them. Socrates places all _philosophy_ in
_morals_; and _wisdom_ in the distinguishing of _good_ and _evil_.
It is the art and law of life, and it teaches us what to do in all
cases, and, like good marksmen, to hit the white at any distance. The
force of it is incredible; for it gives us in the weakness of a man
the security of a _spirit_: in sickness it is as good as a remedy to
us; for whatsoever eases the mind is profitable also to the body. The
_physician_ may prescribe diet and exercise, and accommodate his rule
and medicine to the disease, but it is _philosophy_ that must bring
us to a contempt of death, which is the remedy of all diseases. In
poverty it gives us riches, or such a state of mind as makes them
superfluous to us. It arms us against all difficulties: one man is
pressed with death, another with poverty; some with envy, others are
offended at Providence, and unsatisfied with the condition of mankind:
but _philosophy_ prompts us to relieve the prisoner, the infirm, the
necessitous, the condemned; to show the ignorant their errors, and
rectify their affections. It makes us inspect and govern our manners;
it rouses us where we are faint and drowsy: it binds up what is loose,
and humbles in us that which is contumacious: it delivers the mind
from the bondage of the body, and raises it up to the contemplation of
its divine original. Honors, monuments, and all the works of vanity
and ambition are demolished and destroyed by time; but the reputation
of wisdom is venerable to posterity, and those that were envied or
neglected in their lives are adored in their memories, and exempted
from the very laws of created nature, which has set bounds to all other
things. The very shadow of _glory_ carries a man of _honor_ upon all
dangers, to the contempt of fire and sword; and it were a shame if
_right reason_ should not inspire as generous resolutions into a man of

Neither is _philosophy_ only profitable to the public, but one wise man
helps another, even in the exercise of the virtues; and the one has
need of the other, both for conversation and counsel; for they kindle a
mutual emulation in good offices. We are not so perfect yet, but that
many new things remain still to be found out, which will give us the
reciprocal advantages of instructing one another: for as one wicked man
is contagious to another, and the more vices are mingled, the worse it
is, so is it on the contrary with good men and their virtues. As men
of letters are the most useful and excellent of friends, so are they
the best of subjects; as being better judges of the blessings they
enjoy under a well-ordered government, and of what they owe to the
magistrate for their freedom and protection. They are men of sobriety
and learning, and free from boasting and insolence; they reprove the
vice without reproaching the person; for they have learned to be
without either pomp or envy. That which we see in high mountains,
we find in _philosophers_; they seem taller near at hand than at a
distance. They are raised above other men, but their greatness is
substantial. Nor do they stand upon tiptoe, that they may seem higher
than they are, but, content with their own stature, they reckon
themselves tall enough when fortune cannot reach them. Their laws are
short, and yet comprehensive too, for they bind all.

It is the bounty of _nature_ that we _live_; but of _philosophy_ that
we _live well_, which is in truth a greater benefit than life itself.
Not but that _philosophy_ is also the gift of Heaven, so far as to
the faculty, but not to the science; for that must be the business
of industry. No man is born wise; but wisdom and virtue require a
tutor, though we can easily learn to be vicious without a master. It
is _philosophy_ that gives us a veneration for God, a charity for our
neighbor, that teaches us our duty to Heaven, and exhorts us to an
agreement one with another; it unmasks things that are terrible to us,
assuages our lusts, refutes our errors, restrains our luxury, reproves
our avarice, and works strangely upon tender natures. I could never
hear Attalus (says Seneca) upon the vices of the age and the errors
of life, without a compassion for mankind; and in his discourses
upon poverty, there was something methought that was more than human.
“More than we use,” says he, “is more than we need, and only a burden
to the bearer.” That saying of his put me out of countenance at the
superfluities of my own fortune. And so in his invectives against vain
pleasures, he did at such a rate advance the felicities of a sober
table, a pure mind, and a chaste body that a man could not hear him
without a love for continence and moderation. Upon these lectures of
his, I denied myself, for a while after, certain delicacies that I had
formerly used: but in a short time I fell to them again, though so
sparingly, that the proportion came little short of a total abstinence.

Now, to show you (says our author) how much earnester my entrance upon
philosophy was than my progress, my tutor Sotion gave me a wonderful
kindness for Pythagoras, and after him for Sextius: the former forbore
shedding of blood upon his _metempsychosis:_ and put men in fear of it,
lest they should offer violence to the souls of some of their departed
friends or relations. “Whether,” says he, “there be a transmigration or
not; if it be true, there is no hurt; if false, there is frugality: and
nothing is gotten by cruelty neither, but the cozening a wolf, perhaps,
or a vulture, of a supper.”

Now, Sextius abstained upon another account, which was, that he
would not have men inured to hardness of heart by the laceration and
tormenting of living creatures; beside, “that Nature had sufficiently
provided for the sustenance of mankind without blood.” This wrought
upon me so far that I gave over eating of flesh, and in one year I
made it not only easy to me but pleasant; my mind methought was more
at liberty, (and I am still of the same opinion,) but I gave it over
nevertheless; and the reason was this: it was imputed as a superstition
to the Jews, the forbearance of some sorts of flesh, and my father
brought me back again to my old custom, that I might not be thought
tainted with their superstition. Nay, and I had much ado to prevail
upon myself to suffer it too. I make use of this instance to show the
aptness of youth to take good impressions, if there be a friend at hand
to press them. Philosophers are the tutors of mankind; if they have
found out remedies for the mind, it must be our part to employ them.
I cannot think of Cato, Lelius, Socrates, Plato, without veneration:
their very names are sacred to me. Philosophy is the health of the
mind; let us look to that health first, and in the second place to
that of the body, which may be had upon easier terms; for a strong
arm, a robust constitution, or the skill of procuring this, is not a
philosopher’s business. He does some things as a _wise man,_ and other
things as he is a _man_; and he may have strength of body as well as of
mind; but if he runs, or casts the sledge, it were injurious to ascribe
that to his wisdom which is common to the greatest of fools. He studies
rather to fill his mind than his coffers; and he knows that gold and
silver were mingled with dirt, until avarice or ambition parted them.
His life is ordinate, fearless, equal, secure; he stands firm in all
extremities, and bears the lot of his humanity with a divine temper.
There is a great difference betwixt the splendor of philosophy and
of fortune; the one shines with an original light, the other with a
borrowed one; beside that it makes us happy and immortal: for learning
shall outlive palaces and monuments. The house of a wise man is safe,
though narrow; there is neither noise nor furniture in it, no porter
at the door, nor anything that is either vendible or mercenary, nor any
business of fortune, for she has nothing to do where she has nothing
to look after. This is the way to Heaven which Nature has chalked out,
and it is both secure and pleasant; there needs no train of servants,
no pomp or equipage, to make good our passage; no money or letters of
credit, for expenses upon the voyage; but the graces of an honest mind
will serve us upon the way, and make us happy at our journey’s end.

To tell you my opinion now of the _liberal sciences_; I have no great
esteem for any thing that terminates in profit or money; and yet I
shall allow them to be so far beneficial, as they only _prepare_ the
understanding without _detaining_ it. They are but the rudiments
of wisdom, and only then to be learned when the mind is capable of
nothing better, and the knowledge of them is better worth the keeping
than the acquiring. They do not so much as pretend to the making of
us virtuous, but only to give us an aptitude of disposition to be
so. The _grammarian’s_ business lies in a _syntax_ of speech; or if
he proceed to _history_, or the measuring of a _verse_, he is at
the end of his line; but what signifies a congruity of periods, the
computing of syllables, or the modifying of numbers, to the taming
of our passions, or the repressing of our lusts? The _philosopher_
proves the body of the sun to be large, but for the true dimensions
of it we must ask the _mathematician_: _geometry_ and _music_, if
they do not teach us to master our hopes and fears, all the rest is
to little purpose. What does it concern us which was the elder of the
two, Homer or Hesiod? or which was the taller, Helen or Hecuba? We
take a great deal of pains to trace Ulysses in his wanderings, but
were it not time as well spent to look to ourselves that we may not
wander at all? Are not we ourselves tossed with tempestuous passions?
and both _assaulted_ by terrible _monsters_ on the one hand, and
_tempted_ by _syrens_ on the other? Teach me my duty to my country, to
my father, to my wife, to mankind. What is it to me whether Penelope
was _honest_ or not? teach me to know how to be so myself, and to
live according to that knowledge. What am I the better for putting so
many parts together in _music_, and raising a harmony out of so many
different tones? teach me to tune my affections, and to hold constant
to myself. _Geometry_ teaches me the art of _measuring acres_; teach
me to _measure my appetites_, and to know when I have enough; teach
me to divide with my brother, and to rejoice in the prosperity of my
neighbor. You teach me how I may hold my own, and keep my estate; but
I would rather learn how I may lose it all, and yet be contented. “It
is hard,” you will say, “for a man to be forced from the fortune of his
family.” This estate, it is true, was my _father’s_; but whose was it
in the time of my _grandfather_? I do not only say, what _man’s_ was
it? but what _nation’s_? The _astrologer_ tells me of Saturn and Mars
in _opposition_; but I say, let them be as they will, their courses
and their positions are ordered them by an unchangeable decree of
fate. Either they produce and point out the effects of all things, or
else they signify them; if the former, what are we the better for the
knowledge of that which must of necessity come to pass? If the latter,
what does it avail us to foresee what we cannot avoid? So that whether
we know or not know, the event will still be the same.

He that designs the institution of human life should not be
over-curious of his words; it does not stand with his dignity to be
solicitous about sounds and syllables, and to debase the mind of
man with trivial things; placing wisdom in matters that are rather
difficult than great. If it be _eloquent_, it is his _good fortune_,
not his _business_. Subtle disputations are only the sport of wits,
that play upon the catch, and are fitter to be contemned than resolved.
Were not I a madman to sit wrangling about words, and putting of
nice and impertinent questions, when the enemy has already made the
breach, the town fired over my head, and the mine ready to play that
shall blow me up into the air? were this a time for fooleries? Let me
rather fortify myself against death and inevitable necessities; let
me understand that the good of life does not consist in the length or
space, but in the use of it. When I go to _sleep_, who knows whether
I shall ever _wake_ again? and when I _wake_, whether ever I shall
_sleep_ again? When I go _abroad_, whether ever I shall come _home_
again? and when I _return_, whether ever I shall go _abroad_ again? It
is not at sea only that life and death are within a few inches one of
another; but they are as near everywhere else too, only we do not take
so much notice of it. What have we to do with frivolous and captious
questions, and impertinent niceties? Let us rather study how to deliver
ourselves from sadness, fear, and the burden of all our secret lusts:
let us pass over all our most solemn levities, and make haste to a
good life, which is a thing that presses us. Shall a man that goes
for a midwife, stand gaping upon a post to see _what play to-day_?
or, when his house is on fire, stay the curling of a periwig before
he calls for help? Our houses are on fire, our country invaded, our
goods taken away, our children in danger; and, I might add to these,
the calamities of earthquakes, shipwrecks, and whatever else is most
terrible. Is this a time for us now to be playing fast and loose with
idle questions, which are in effect so many unprofitable riddles? Our
duty is the cure of the mind rather than the delight of it; but we have
only the words of wisdom without the works; and turn philosophy into a
pleasure that was given for a remedy. What can be more ridiculous than
for a man to _neglect_ his _manners_ and _compose_ his _style_? We are
sick and ulcerous, and must be lanced and scarified, and every man has
as much business within himself as a physician in a common pestilence.
“Misfortunes,” in fine, “cannot be avoided; but they may be sweetened,
if not overcome; and our lives may be made happy by philosophy.”



There seems to be so near an affinity betwixt _wisdom_, _philosophy_,
and _good counsels_, that it is rather matter of curiosity than of
profit to divide them; _philosophy_, being only a _limited wisdom_;
and _good counsels a communication of that wisdom_, for the good of
_others_, as well as of _ourselves_; and to _posterity_, as well as to
the _present_. The _wisdom_ of the _ancients_, as to the government of
life, was no more than certain precepts, what to do and what not: and
men were much better in that simplicity; for as they came to be more
_learned_, they grew less careful of being _good_. That _plain_ and
_open virtue_ is now turned into a _dark_ and _intricate science_; and
we are taught to _dispute_ rather than to _live_. So long as wickedness
was simple, simple remedies also were sufficient against it; but now it
has taken root, and spread, we must make use of stronger.

There are some dispositions that embrace good things as soon as they
hear them; but they will still need quickening by admonition and
precept. We are rash and forward in some cases, and dull in others;
and there is no repressing of the one humor, or raising of the other,
but by removing the causes of them; which are (in one word) _false
admiration_ and _false fear_.

Every man knows his duty to his country, to his friends, to his
guests; and yet when he is called upon to draw his sword for the one,
or to labor for the other, he finds himself distracted betwixt his
apprehensions and his delights: he knows well enough the injury he
does his wife in the keeping of a wench, and yet his lust overrules
him: so that it is not enough to give good advice, unless we can take
away that which hinders the benefit of it. If a man does what he ought
to do, he will never do it constantly or equally, without knowing why
he does it: and if it be only chance or custom, he that does well by
chance, may do ill so too. And farther, a precept may direct us what
we _ought_ to do, and yet fall short in the manner of doing it: an
expensive entertainment may, in one case be extravagance or gluttony,
and yet a point of honor and discretion in another. Tiberius Cæsar had
a huge _mullet_ presented him, which he sent to the market to be sold:
“and now,” says he, “my masters,” to some company with him, “you shall
see that either Apicius or Octavius will be the chapman for this fish.”
Octavius beat the price, and gave about thirty pounds sterling for it.
Now, there was a great difference between Octavius, that bought it for
his luxury, and the _other_ that purchased it for a _compliment_ to
Tiberius. Precepts are idle, if we be not first taught what opinion
we are to have of the matter in question; whether it be _poverty_,
_riches_, _disgrace_, _sickness_, _banishment_, etc. Let us therefore
examine them one by one; not what they are _called_, but what in truth
they _are_. And so for the _virtues_; it is to no purpose to set a high
esteem upon prudence, _fortitude_, _temperance_, _justice_, if we do
not first know _what virtue is_; whether _one_ or _more_; or if he
that has _one_, has _all_; or _how they differ_.

Precepts are of great weight; and a few useful ones at hand do more
toward a happy life than whole volumes or cautions, that we know not
where to find. These salutary precepts should be our daily meditation,
for they are the rules by which we ought to square our lives. When they
are contracted into _sentences_, they strike the _affections_: whereas
_admonition_ is only _blowing_ of the _coal_; it moves the vigor of the
mind, and excites virtue: we have the thing already, but we know not
where it lies. It is by precept that the understanding is nourished
and augmented: the offices of prudence and justice are guided by them,
and they lead us to the execution of our duties. A _precept_ delivered
in _verse_ has a much greater effect than in _prose_: and those very
people that never think they have enough, let them but hear a sharp
sentence against _avarice_, how will they clap and admire it, and bid
open defiance to money? So soon as we find the affections struck, we
must follow the blow; not with _syllogisms_ or quirks of _wit_; but
with _plain_ and _weighty reason_ and we must do it with _kindness_
too, and _respect_ for “there goes a blessing along with counsels and
discourses that are bent wholly upon the good of the hearer:” and
those are still the most efficacious that take reason along with them;
and tell us as well why we are to do this or that, as _what_ we are
to do: for some understandings are weak, and need an instructor to
expound to them what is good and what is evil. It is a great virtue
to _love_, to _give_, and to _follow good counsel_; if it does not
_lead_ us to honesty, it does at least _prompt_ us to it. As several
parts make up but one harmony, and the most agreeable music arises
from discords; so should a wise man gather many acts, many precepts,
and the examples of many arts, to inform his own life. Our forefathers
have left us in charge to avoid three things; _hatred_, _envy_, and
_contempt_; now, it is hard to avoid envy and not incur _contempt_;
for in taking too much care not to usurp upon others, we become many
times liable to be trampled upon ourselves. Some people are afraid of
others, because it is possible that others may be afraid of them: but
let us secure ourselves upon all hands; for _flattery_ is as dangerous
as _contempt_. It is not to say, in case of admonition, I knew this
before, for we know many things, but we do not think of them; so that
it is the part of a _monitor_, not so much to _teach_ as to _mind_ us
of our duties. Sometimes a man oversees that which lies just under his
nose; otherwhile he is careless, or _pretends_ not to see it: we do all
know that friendship is sacred, and yet we violate it; and the greatest
libertine expects that his own wife should be honest.

Good counsel is the most needful service that we can do to mankind;
and if we give it to _many_, it will be sure to profit _some_: for of
many trials, some or other will undoubtedly succeed. He that places
a man in the possession of himself does a great thing; for wisdom
does not show itself so much in precept as in life; in a firmness of
mind and a mastery of appetite: it teaches us to _do_ as well as to
_talk_: and to make our words and actions all of a color. If that fruit
be pleasantest which we gather from a tree of our own planting, how
much greater delight shall we take in the growth and increase of good
manners of our own forming! It is an eminent mark of wisdom for a man
to be always like himself. You shall have some that keep a thrifty
table, and lavish out upon building; profuse upon themselves, and
forbid to others; niggardly at home, and lavish abroad. This diversity
is vicious, and the effect of a dissatisfied and uneasy mind; whereas
every wise man lives by rule. This disagreement of purposes arises
from hence, either that we do not propound to ourselves what we would
be at; or if we do, that we do not pursue it, but pass from one thing
to another; and we do not only _change_ neither but return to the very
thing which we had both quitted and condemned.

In all our undertakings, let us first examine our own strength; the
enterprise next; and, thirdly, the persons with whom we have to do. The
first point is most important; for we are apt to overvalue ourselves,
and reckon that we can do more than indeed we can. One man sets up
for a speaker, and is out as soon as he opens his mouth; another
overcharges his estate, perhaps, or his body: a bashful man is not
fit for public business: some again are too stiff and peremptory for
the court: many people are apt to fly out in their anger, nay, and in
a frolic too; if any sharp thing fall in their way, they will rather
venture a neck than lose a jest. These people had better be quiet in
the world than busy. Let him that is naturally choleric and impatient
avoid all provocations, and those affairs also that multiply and draw
on more; and those also from which there is no retreat. When we may
come off at pleasure, and fairly hope to bring our matters to a period,
it is well enough. If it so happen that a man be tied up to business,
which he can neither loosen nor break off, let him imagine those
shackles upon his mind to be irons upon his legs: they are troublesome
at first; but when there is no remedy but patience, custom makes them
easy to us, and necessity gives us courage. We are all slaves to
fortune: some only in loose and golden chains, others in strait ones,
and coarser: nay, and _they that bind us are slaves too themselves_;
some to honor, others to wealth; some to offices, and others to
contempt; some to their superiors, others to themselves: nay, life
itself is a servitude: let us make the best of it then, and with our
philosophy mend our fortune. Difficulties may be softened, and heavy
burdens disposed of to our ease. Let us covet nothing out of our reach,
but content ourselves with things hopeful and at hand; and without
envying the advantages of others; for greatness stands upon a craggy
precipice, and it is much safer and quieter living upon a level. How
many great men are forced to keep their station upon mere necessity;
because they find there is no coming down from it but headlong? These
men should do well to fortify themselves against ill consequences by
such virtues and meditations as may make them less solicitous for the
future. The surest expedient in this case is to bound our desires, and
to leave nothing to fortune which we may keep in our own power. Neither
will this course wholly compose us, but it shows us at worst the end of
our troubles.

It is but a main point to take care that we propose nothing but what is
hopeful and honest. For it will be equally troublesome to us, either
not to succeed, or to be ashamed of the success. Wherefore let us be
sure not to admit any ill design into our heart; that we may lift up
pure hands to heaven and ask nothing which another shall be a loser by.
Let us pray for a good mind, which is a wish to no man’s injury. I
will remember always that I am a man, and then consider, that if I am
_happy_, it will not last _always_; if _unhappy_, I may be _other_ if
I please. I will carry my life in my hand, and deliver it up readily
when it shall be called for. I will have a care of being a slave to
myself; for it is a perpetual, a shameful, and the heaviest of all
servitudes: and this may be done by moderate desires. I will say to
myself, “What is it that I labor, sweat, and solicit for, when it is
but very little that I want, and it will not be long that I will need
any thing?” He that would make a trial of the firmness of his mind, let
him set certain days apart for the practice of his virtues. Let him
mortify himself with fasting, coarse clothes, and hard lodging; and
then say to himself, “Is this the thing now that I was afraid of?” In a
state of security, a man may thus prepare himself against hazards, and
in plenty fortify himself against want. If you will have a man resolute
when he comes to the push, train him up to it beforehand. The soldier
does duty in peace, that he may be in breath when he comes to battle.
How many great and wise men have made experiment of their moderation
by a practice of abstinence, to the highest degree of hunger and
thirst; and convinced themselves that a man may fill his belly without
being beholden to fortune; which never denies any of us wherewith to
satisfy our necessities, though she be never so angry! It is as easy
to _suffer_ it _always_ as to _try_ it _once_; and it is no more than
thousands of servants and poor people do every day in their lives. He
that would live happily, must neither trust to good fortune nor submit
to bad: he must stand upon his guard against all assaults; he must
stick to himself, without any dependence upon other people. Where
the mind is tinctured with philosophy, there is no place for grief,
anxiety, or superfluous vexations. It is prepossessed with virtue to
the neglect of fortune, which brings us to a degree of security not
to be disturbed. It is easier to give counsel than to take it; and
a common thing for one choleric man to condemn another. We may be
sometimes earnest in advising, but not violent or tedious. Few words,
with gentleness and efficacy, are best: the misery is, that the wise
do not need counsel, and fools will not take it. A good man, it is
true, delights in it; and it is a mark of folly and ill-nature to hate

To a friend I would be always frank and plain; and rather fail in the
success than be wanting in the matter of faith and trust. There are
some precepts that serve in common both to the rich and poor, but they
are too general; as “Cure your avarice, and the work is done.” It is
one thing not to desire money, and another thing not to understand
how to use it. In the choice of the persons we have to do withal, we
should see that they be worth our while; in the choice of our business,
we are to consult nature, and follow our inclinations. He that gives
sober advice to a witty droll must look to have every thing turned into
ridicule. “As if you philosophers,” says Marcellinus, “did not love
your whores and your guts as well as other people:” and then he tells
you of such and such that were taken in the manner. We are all sick, I
must confess, and it is not for sick men to play the physicians; but
it is yet lawful for a man in an hospital to discourse of the common
condition and distempers of the place. He that should pretend to teach
a madman how to speak, walk, and behave himself, were not he the most
mad man of the two? He that directs the pilot, makes him move the
helm, order the sails so or so, and makes the best of a scant wind,
after this or that manner. And so should we do in our counsels.

Do not tell me what a man should do in health or poverty, but show
me the way to be either sound or rich. Teach me to master my vices:
for it is to no purpose, so long as I am under their government, to
tell me what I must do when I am clear of it. In case of an avarice a
little eased, a luxury moderated, a temerity restrained, a sluggish
humor quickened; precepts will then help us forward, and tutor us how
to behave ourselves. It is the first and the main tie of a soldier his
military oath, which is an engagement upon him both of religion and
honor. In like manner, he that pretends to a happy life must first lay
a foundation of virtue, as a bond upon him, to live and die true to
that cause. We do not find felicity in the veins of the earth where we
dig for gold, nor in the bottom of the sea where we fish for pearls,
but in a pure and untainted mind, which, if it were not holy, were not
fit to entertain the Deity. “He that would be truly happy, must think
his own lot best, and so live with men, as considering that God sees
him, and so speak to God as if men heard him.”



“A good conscience is the testimony of a good life, and the reward
of it.” This is it that fortifies the mind against fortune, when a
man has gotten the mastery of his passions; placed his treasure and
security within himself; learned to be content with his condition;
and that death is no evil in itself, but only the end of man. He that
has dedicated his mind to virtue, and to the good of human society,
whereof he is a member, has consummated all that is either profitable
or necessary for him to know or to do toward the establishment of his
peace. Every man has a judge and a witness within himself of all the
good and ill that he does, which inspires us with great thoughts, and
administers to us wholesome counsels. We have a veneration for all the
works of Nature, the heads of rivers, and the springs of medicinal
waters; the horrors of groves and of caves strike us with an impression
of religion and worship. To see a man fearless in dangers, untainted
with lusts, happy in adversity, composed in a tumult, and laughing at
all those things which are generally either coveted or feared; all men
must acknowledge that this can be nothing else but a beam of divinity
that influences a mortal body. And this is it that carries us to the
disquisition of things divine and human; what the state of the world
was before the distribution of the first matter into parts; what power
it was that drew order out of that confusion, and gave laws both to the
whole, and to every particle thereof; what that space is beyond the
world; and whence proceed the several operations of Nature.

Shall any man see the glory and order of the universe; so many
scattered parts and qualities wrought into one mass; such a medley of
things, which are yet distinguished: the world enlightened, and the
disorders of it so wonderfully regulated; and shall he not consider
the Author and Disposer of all this; and whither we ourselves shall
go, when our souls shall be delivered from the slavery of our flesh?
The whole creation we see conforms to the dictates of Providence, and
follows God both as a governor and as a guide. A great, a good, and
a right mind, is a kind of divinity lodged in flesh, and may be the
blessing of a slave as well as of a prince; it came from heaven, and to
heaven it must return; and it is a kind of heavenly felicity, which a
pure and virtuous mind enjoys, in some degree, even upon earth: whereas
temples of honor are but empty names, which, probably, owe their
beginning either to ambition or to violence.

I am strangely transported with the thoughts of eternity; nay, with
the belief of it; for I have a profound veneration for the opinions
of great men, especially when they promise things so much to my
satisfaction: for they do promise them, though they do not prove them.
In the question of the immortality of the soul, it goes very far with
me, a general consent to the opinion of a future reward and punishment;
which meditation raises me to the contempt of this life, in hopes of
a better. But still, though we know that we have a soul; yet what the
soul is, how, and from whence, we are utterly ignorant: this only we
understand, that all the good and ill we do is under the dominion of
the mind; that a clear conscience states us in an inviolable peace; and
that the greatest blessing in Nature is that which every honest man may
bestow upon himself. The body is but the clog and prisoner of the mind;
tossed up and down, and persecuted with punishments, violences, and
diseases; but the mind itself is sacred and eternal, and exempt from
the danger of all actual impression.

Provided that we look to our consciences, no matter for opinion: let
me deserve well, though I hear ill. The common people take stomach and
audacity for the marks of magnanimity and honor; and if a man be soft
and modest, they look upon him as an easy fop; but when they come once
to observe the dignity of his mind in the equality and firmness of his
actions; and that his external quiet is founded upon an internal peace,
the very same people who have him in esteem and admiration; for there
is no man but approves of virtue, though but few pursue it; we see
where it is, but we dare not venture to come at it: and the reason is,
we overvalue that which we must quit to obtain it.

A good conscience fears no witnesses, but a guilty conscience is
solicitous even of solitude. If we do nothing but what is honest, let
all the world know it; but if otherwise, what does it signify to have
nobody else know it, so long as I know it myself? Miserable is he that
slights that witness! Wickedness, it is true, may escape the law, but
not the conscience; for a private conviction is the first and the
greatest punishment to offenders; so that sin plagues itself; and the
fear of vengeance pursues even those that escape the stroke of it.
It were ill for good men that iniquity may so easily evade the law,
the judge, and the execution, if Nature had not set up torments and
gibbets in the consciences of transgressors. He that is guilty lives
in perpetual terror; and while he expects to be punished, he punishes
himself; and whosoever deserves it expects it. What if he be not
detected? he is still in apprehension yet that he may be so. His sleeps
are painful, and never secure; and he cannot speak of another man’s
wickedness without thinking of his own, whereas a good conscience is a
continual feast.

Those are the only certain and profitable delights, which arise from
the consciousness of a well-acted life; no matter for noise abroad,
so long as we are quiet within: but if our passions be seditious,
that is enough to keep us waking without any other tumult. It is not
the posture of the body, or the composure of the bed, that will give
rest to an uneasy mind: there is an impatient sloth that may be roused
by action, and the vices of laziness must be cured by business. True
happiness is not to be found in excesses of wine, or of women, or in
the largest prodigalities of fortune; what she has given to me, she
may take away, but she shall not tear it from me; and, so long as it
does not grow to me, I can part with it without pain. He that would
perfectly know himself, let him set aside his money, his fortune, his
dignity, and examine himself naked, without being put to learn from
others the knowledge of himself.

It is dangerous for a man too suddenly, or too easily, to believe
himself. Wherefore let us examine, observe, and inspect our own
hearts, for we ourselves are our own greatest flatterers: we should
every night call ourselves to account, “What infirmity have I mastered
to-day? what passion opposed? what temptation resisted? what virtue
acquired?” Our vices will abate of themselves, if they be brought every
day to the shrift. Oh the blessed sleep that follows such a diary! Oh
the tranquillity, liberty, and greatness of that mind that is a spy
upon itself, and a private censor of its own manners! It is my custom
(says our author) every night, so soon as the candle is out, to run
over all the words and actions of the past day; and I let nothing
escape me; for why should I fear the sight of my own errors, when I can
admonish and forgive myself? “I was a little too hot in such a dispute:
my opinion might have been as well spared, for it gave offence, and
did no good at all. The thing was true, but all truths are not to be
spoken at all times; I would I had held my tongue, for there is no
contending either with fools or our superiors. I have done ill, but it
shall be so no more.” If every man would but thus look into himself,
it would be the better for us all. What can be more reasonable than
this daily review of a life that we cannot warrant for a moment? Our
fate is set, and the first breath we draw is only the first motion
toward our last: one cause depends upon another; and the course of all
things, public and private, is but a long connection of providential
appointments. There is a great variety in our lives, but all tends to
the same issue. Nature may use her own bodies as she pleases; but a
good man has this consolation, that nothing perishes which he can call
his own. It is a great comfort that we are only condemned to the same
fate with the universe; the heavens themselves are mortal as well
as our bodies; Nature has made us passive, and to suffer is our lot.
While we are in flesh, every man has his chain and his clog, only it is
looser and lighter to one man than to another; and he is more at ease
that takes it up and carries it, than he that drags it. We are born, to
lose and to perish, to hope and to fear, to vex ourselves and others;
and there is no antidote against a common calamity but virtue; for “the
foundation of true joy is in the conscience.”



There is not in the scale of nature a more inseparable connection
of cause and effect, than in the case of happiness and virtue; nor
anything that more naturally produces the one, or more necessarily
presupposes the other. For what is it to be happy, but for a man to
content himself with his lot, in a cheerful and quiet resignation to
the appointments of God? All the actions of our lives ought to be
governed with respect to good and evil: and it is only reason that
distinguishes; by which reason we are in such manner influenced, as
if a ray of the Divinity were dipt in a mortal body, and that is the
perfection of mankind. It is true, we have not the eyes of eagles
or the sagacity of hounds: nor if we had, could we pretend to value
ourselves upon anything which we have in common with brutes. What
are we the better for that which is foreign to us, and may be given
and taken away? As the beams of the sun irradiate the earth, and yet
remain where they were; so is it in some proportion with a holy mind
that illustrates all our actions, and yet it adheres to its original.
Why do we not as well commend a horse for his glorious trappings, as a
man for his pompous additions? How much a braver creature is a lion,
(which by nature ought to be fierce and terrible) how much braver (I
say) in his natural horror than in his chains? so that everything in
its pure nature pleases us best. It is not health, nobility, riches,
that can justify a wicked man: nor is it the want of all these that
can discredit a good one. That is the sovereign blessing, which makes
the possessor of it valuable without anything else, and him that wants
it contemptible, though he had all the world besides. It is not the
painting, gilding, or carving, that makes a good ship; but if she be
a nimble sailer, tight and strong to endure the seas; that is her
excellency. It is the edge and temper of the blade that makes a good
sword, not the richness of the scabbard: and so it is not money or
possessions, that makes a man considerable, but his virtue.

It is every man’s duty to make himself profitable to mankind—if he
can, to many—if not, to fewer—if not so neither, to his neighbor—but,
however, to himself. There are two republics: a great one, which is
human nature; and a less, which is the place where we were born. Some
serve both at a time, some only the greater, and some again only the
less. The greater may be served in privacy, solitude, contemplation,
and perchance that way better than any other; but it was the intent
of Nature, however, that we should serve both. A good man may serve
the public, his friend, and himself in any station: if he be not for
the sword, let him take the gown; if the bar does not agree with him,
let him try the pulpit; if he be silenced abroad, let him give counsel
at home, and discharge the part of a faithful friend and a temperate
companion. When he is no longer a citizen, he is yet a man; but the
whole world is his country, and human nature never wants matter to work
upon: but if nothing will serve a man in the _civil government_ unless
he be _prime minister_, or in the _field_ but to _command in chief_, it
is his own fault.

The common soldier where he cannot use his hands, fights with his
looks, his example, his encouragement, his voice, and stands his ground
even when he has lost his hands, and does service too with his very
clamor, so that in any condition whatsoever, he still discharges the
duty of a good patriot—nay, he that spends his time well even in a
retirement, gives a great example.

We may enlarge, indeed, or contract, according to the circumstances
of time, place, or abilities; but above all things we must be sure to
keep ourselves in action, for he that is slothful is dead even while
he lives. Was there ever any state so desperate as that of Athens
under the thirty tyrants—where it was capital to be honest, and the
senate-house was turned into a college of hangmen? Never was any
government so wretched and so hopeless; and yet Socrates at the same
time preached _temperance_ to the _tyrants_, and courage to the rest,
and afterwards died an eminent example of faith and resolution, and a
sacrifice for the common good.

It is not for a wise man to stand shifting and fencing with fortune,
but to oppose her barefaced, for he is sufficiently convinced that
she can do him no hurt; she may take away his servants, possessions,
dignity, assault his body, put out his eyes, cut off his hands, and
strip him of all the external comforts of life. But what does all this
amount to more than the recalling of a trust which he has received,
with condition to deliver it up again upon demand? He looks upon
himself as precarious, and only lent to himself, and yet he does not
value himself ever the less because he is not his own, but takes such
care as an honest man should do of a thing that is committed to him in
trust. Whensoever he that lent me myself and what I have, shall call
for all back again, it is not a loss but a restitution, and I must
willingly deliver up what most undeservedly was bestowed upon me, and
it will become me to return my mind better than I received it.

Demetrius, upon the taking of Megara, asked Stilpo, the philosopher,
what he had lost. “Nothing,” said he, “for I had all that I could call
my own about me.” And yet the enemy had then made himself master of
his patrimony, his children, and his country; but these he looked upon
as only adventitious goods, and under the command of fortune. Now, he
that neither lost any thing nor feared any thing in a public ruin, but
was safe and at peace in the middle of the flames, and in the heat of a
military intemperance and fury—what violence or provocation imaginable
can put such a man as this out of the possession of himself? Walls
and castles may be mined and battered, but there is no art or engine
that can subvert a steady mind. “I have made my way,” says Stilpo,
“through fire and blood—what has become of my children I know not; but
these are transitory blessings, and servants that are bound to change
their masters; what was my own before is my own still. Some have lost
their estates, others their dear-bought mistresses, their commissions
and offices: the usurers have lost their bonds and securities: but,
Demetrius, for my part I have saved all, and do not imagine after
all this, either that Demetrius is a conqueror, or that Stilpo is
overcome—it is only thy fortune has been too hard for mine.”

Alexander took Babylon, Scipio took Carthage, the capitol was burnt;
but there is no fire or violence that can discompose a generous mind;
and let us not take this character either for a chimera, for all ages
afford some, though not many, instances of this elevated virtue.

A good man does his duty, let it be never so painful, so hazardous, or
never so great a loss to him; and it is not all the money, the power,
and the pleasure in the world; not any force of necessity, that can
make him wicked: he considers what he is to do, not what he is to
suffer, and will keep on his course, though there should be nothing
but gibbets and torments in the way. And in this instance of Stilpo,
who, when he had lost his country, his wife, his children, the town
on fire over his head, himself escaping very hardly and naked out of
the flames; “I have saved all my goods,” says he, “my justice, my
courage, my temperance, my prudence;” accounting nothing his own, or
valuable, and showing how much easier it was to overcome a nation than
one wise man. It is a certain mark of a brave mind not to be moved
by any accidents: the upper region of the air admits neither clouds
nor tempests; the thunder, storms, and meteors, are formed below; and
this is the difference betwixt a mean and an exalted mind; the former
is rude and tumultuary; the latter is modest, venerable, composed,
and always quiet in its station. In brief, it is the conscience that
pronounces upon the man whether he be happy or miserable. But, though
sacrilege and adultery be generally condemned, how many are there
still that do not so much as blush at the one, and in truth that
take a glory in the other? For nothing is more common than for great
thieves to ride in triumph when the little ones are punished. But
let “wickedness escape as it may at the bar, it never fails of doing
justice upon itself; for every guilty person is his own hangman.”



Whoever observes the world, and the order of it, will find all the
motions in it to be only vicissitudes of falling and rising; nothing
extinguished, and even those things which seem to us to perish are in
truth but changed. The seasons go and return, day and night follow in
their courses, the heavens roll, and Nature goes on with her work: all
things succeed in their turns, storms and calms; the law of Nature
will have it so, which we must follow and obey, accounting all things
that are done to be well done; so that what we cannot mend we must
suffer, and wait upon Providence without repining. It is the part of
a cowardly soldier to follow his commander groaning: but a generous
man delivers himself up to God without struggling; and it is only
for a narrow mind to condemn the order of the world, and to propound
rather the mending of Nature than of himself. No man has any cause
of complaint against Providence, if that which is right pleases him.
Those glories that appear fair to the eye, their lustre is but false
and superficial; and they are only vanity and delusion: they are rather
the goods of a dream than a substantial possession: they may cozen us
at a distance, but bring them once to the touch, they are rotten and
counterfeit. There are no greater wretches in the world than many of
those which the people take to be happy. Those are the only true and
incorruptible comforts that will abide all trials, and the more we turn
and examine them, the more valuable we find them; and the greatest
felicity of all is, not to stand in need of any. What is _poverty_? No
man lives so poor as he was born. What is _pain_? It will either have
an end itself, or make an end of us. In short, Fortune has no weapon
that reaches the mind: but the bounties of Providence are certain and
permanent blessings; and they are the greater and the better, the
longer we consider them; that is to say, “the power of contemning
things terrible, and despising what the common people covet.” In the
very methods of Nature we cannot but observe the regard that Providence
had to the good of mankind, even in the disposition of the world, in
providing so amply for our maintenance and satisfaction. It is not
possible for us to comprehend what the Power is which has made all
things: some few sparks of that Divinity are discovered, but infinitely
the greater part of it lies hid. We are all of us, however, thus far
agreed, first, in the acknowledgement and belief of that almighty
Being; and, secondly, that we are to ascribe to it all majesty and

“If there be a Providence,” say some, “how comes it to pass that
good men labor under affliction and adversity, and wicked men enjoy
themselves in ease and plenty?” My answer is, that God deals by us as a
good father does by his children; he tries us, he hardens us, and fits
us for himself. He keeps a strict hand over those that he loves; and by
the rest he does as we do by our slaves; he lets them go on in license
and boldness.

As the master gives his most hopeful scholars the hardest lessons, so
does God deal with the most generous spirits; and the cross encounters
of fortune we are not to look upon as a cruelty, but as a contest: the
familiarity of dangers brings us to the contempt of them, and that part
is strongest which is most exercised: the seaman’s hand is callous, the
soldier’s arm is strong, and the tree that is most exposed to the wind
takes the best root: there are people that live in a perpetual winter,
in extremity of frost and penury, where a cave, a lock of straw, or a
few leaves, is all their covering, and wild beasts their nourishment;
all this by custom is not only made tolerable, but when it is once
taken up upon necessity, by little and little, it becomes pleasant to
them. Why should we then count that condition of life a calamity which
is the lot of many nations? There is no state of life so miserable
but that there are in it remissions, diversions, nay, and delights
too; such is the benignity of Nature towards us, even in the severest
accidents of human life. There were no living if adversity should hold
on as it begins, and keep up the force of the first impression. We are
apt to murmur at many things as great evils, that have nothing at all
of evil in them besides the complaint, which we should more reasonably
take up against ourselves. If I be sick, it is part of my fate; and
for other calamities, they are usual things; they ought to be; nay,
which is more, they must be, for they come by divine appointment. So
that we should not only submit to God, but assent to him, and obey him
out of _duty_, even if there were no _necessity_. All those terrible
appearances that make us groan and tremble are but the tribute of life;
we are neither to wish, nor to ask, nor to hope to escape them; for
it is a kind of dishonesty to pay a tribute unwillingly. Am I troubled
with the stone, or afflicted with continual losses? nay, is my body in
danger? All this is no more than what I prayed for when I prayed for
old age. All these things are as familiar in a long life, as dust and
dirt in a long way. Life is a warfare; and what brave man would not
rather choose to be in a tent than in shambles? Fortune does like a
swordsman, she scorns to encounter a fearful man: there is no honor in
the victory where there is no danger in the way to it; she tries Mucius
by _fire_; Rutilius by _exile_; Socrates by _poison_; Cato by _death_.

It is only in adverse fortune, and in bad times, that we find great
examples. Mucius thought himself happier with his hand in the flame,
than if it had been in the bosom of his mistress. Fabricius took more
pleasure in eating the roots of his own planting than in all the
delicacies of luxury and expense. Shall we call Rutilius miserable,
whom his very enemies have adored? who, upon a glorious and a public
principle, chose rather to lose his country than to return from
banishment? the only man that denied any thing to Sylla the dictator,
who recalled him. Nor did he only refuse to come, but drew himself
further off: “Let them,” says he, “that think banishment a misfortune,
live slaves at Rome, under the imperial cruelties of Sylla: he that
sets a price upon the heads of senators; and after a law of his own
institution against cut-throats, becomes the greatest himself.” Is it
not better for a man to live in exile abroad than to be massacred at
home? In suffering for virtue, it is not the torment but the cause,
that we are to consider; and the more pain, the more renown. When any
hardship befalls us, we must look upon it as an act of Providence,
which many times suffers particulars to be wounded for the conservation
of the whole: beside that, God chastises some people under an
appearance of blessing them, turning their prosperity to their ruin as
a punishment for abusing his goodness. And we are further to consider,
that many a good man is afflicted, only to teach others to suffer; for
we are born for example; and likewise that where men are contumacious
and refractory, it pleases God many times to cure greater evils by
less, and to turn our miseries to our advantage.

How many casualties and difficulties are there that we dread as
insupportable mischiefs, which, upon farther thoughts, we find to
be mercies and benefits? as banishment, poverty, loss of relations,
sickness, disgrace. Some are cured by the lance; by fire, hunger,
thirst; taking out of bones, lopping off limbs, and the like: nor do
we only fear things that are many times beneficial to us; but, on the
other side, we hanker after and pursue things that are deadly and
pernicious: we are poisoned in the very pleasure of our luxury, and
betrayed to a thousand diseases by the indulging of our palate. To lose
a child or a limb, is only to part with what we have received, and
Nature may do what she pleases with her own. We are frail ourselves,
and we have received things transitory—that which was given us may be
taken away—calamity tries virtue as the fire does gold, nay, he that
lives most at ease is only delayed, not dismissed, and his portion is
to come. When we are visited with sickness or other afflictions we are
not to murmur as if we were ill used—it is a mark of the general’s
esteem when he puts us upon a post of danger: we do not say “My
captain uses me ill,” but “he does me honor;” and so should we say that
are commanded to encounter difficulties, for this is our case with God

What was Regulus the worse, because Fortune made choice of him for
an eminent instance both of faith and patience? He was thrown into a
case of wood stuck with pointed nails, so that which way soever he
turned his body, it rested upon his wounds; his eyelids were cut off
to keep him waking; and yet Mecænas was not happier upon his _bed_
than Regulus upon his _torments_. Nay, the world is not yet grown so
wicked as not to prefer Regulus before Mecænas: and can any man take
that to be an evil of which Providence accounted this brave man worthy?
“It has pleased God,” says he, “to single me out for an experiment of
the force of human nature.” No man knows his own strength or value but
by being put to the proof. The pilot is tried in a storm; the soldier
in a battle; the rich man knows not how to behave himself in poverty:
he that has lived in popularity and applause, knows not how he would
bear infamy and reproach: nor he that never had children how he would
bear the loss of them. Calamity is the occasion of virtue, and a spur
to a great mind. The very apprehension of a wound startles a man when
he first bears arms; but an old soldier bleeds boldly, because he
knows that a man may lose blood, and yet win the day. Nay, many times
a calamity turns to our advantage; and great ruins have but made way
to greater glories. The crying out of _fire_ has many times quieted
a fray, and the interposing of a wild beast has parted the thief and
the traveller; for we are not at leisure for less mischiefs while we
are under the apprehensions of greater. One man’s life is saved by a
disease: another is arrested, and taken out of the way, just when his
house was falling upon his head.

To show now that the favors or the crosses of fortune, and the
accidents of sickness and of health, are neither good nor evil, God
permits them indifferently both to good and evil men. “It is hard,” you
will say, “for a virtuous man to suffer all sorts of misery, and for
a wicked man not only to go free, but to enjoy himself at pleasure.”
And is it not the same thing for men of prostituted impudence and
wickedness to sleep in a whole skin, when men of honor and honesty
bear arms; lie in the trenches, and receive wounds? or for the vestal
virgins to rise in the night to their prayers, when common strumpets
lie stretching themselves in their beds? We should rather say with
Demetrius, “If I had known the will of Heaven before I was called to
it, I would have offered myself.” If it be the pleasure of God to take
my children, I have brought them up to that end: if my fortune, any
part of my body, or my life, I would rather present it than yield it
up: I am ready to part with all, and to suffer all; for I know that
nothing comes to pass but what God appoints: our fate is decreed, and
things do not so much happen, as in their due time proceed, and every
man’s portion of joy and sorrow is predetermined.

There is nothing falls amiss to a good man that can be charged upon
Providence; for wicked actions, lewd thoughts, ambitious projects,
blind lusts, and insatiable avarice—against all these he is armed by
the benefit of reason: and do we expect now that God should look to
our luggage too? (I mean our bodies.) Demetrius discharged himself of
his treasure as the clog and burden of his mind: shall we wonder then
if God suffers that to befall a good man which a good man sometimes
does to himself? I lose a son, and why not, when it may sometimes so
fall out that I myself may kill him? Suppose he be banished by an order
of state, is it not the same thing with a man’s voluntarily leaving
his country never to return? Many afflictions may befall a good man,
but no evil, for contraries will never incorporate—all the rivers in
the world are never able to change the taste or quality of the sea.
Prudence and religion are above accidents, and draw good out of every
thing—affliction keeps a man in use, and makes him strong, patient, and
hardy. Providence treats us like a generous father, and brings us up
to labors, toils, and dangers; whereas the indulgence of a fond mother
makes us weak and spiritless.

God loves us with a masculine love, and turns us loose to injuries
and indignities: he takes delight to see a brave and a good man
wrestling with evil fortune, and yet keeping himself upon his legs,
when the whole world is in disorder about him. And are not we ourselves
delighted, to see a bold fellow press with his lance upon a boar or
lion? and the constancy and resolution of the action is the grace and
dignity of the spectacle. No man can be happy that does not stand firm
against all contingencies; and say to himself in all extremities, “I
should have been content, if it might have been so or so, but since it
is otherwise determined, God will provide better.” The more we struggle
with our necessities, we draw the knot the harder, and the worse it
is with us: and the more a bird flaps and flutters in the snare, the
surer she is caught: so that the best way is to submit and lie still,
under this double consideration, that “the proceedings of God are
unquestionable, and his decrees are not to be resisted.”



Now, to sum up what is already delivered, we have showed what happiness
is, and wherein it consists: that it is founded upon wisdom and virtue;
for we must first know what we ought to do, and then live according to
that knowledge. We have also discoursed the helps of philosophy and
precept toward a _happy life_; the blessing of a good conscience; that
a good man can never be miserable, nor a wicked man happy; nor any
man unfortunate that cheerfully submits to Providence. We shall now
examine, how it comes to pass that, when the certain way to happiness
lies so fair before us, men will yet steer their course on the other
side, which as manifestly leads to ruin.

There are some that live without any design at all, and only pass
in the world like straws upon a river; they do not go, but they are
carried. Others only deliberate upon the parts of life, and not upon
the whole, which is a great error: for there is no disposing of the
circumstances of it, unless we first propound the main scope. How shall
any man take his aim without a mark? or what wind will serve him that
is not yet resolved upon his port? We live as it were by chance, and
by chance we are governed. Some there are that torment themselves
afresh with the memory of what is past: “Lord! what did I endure? never
was any man in my condition; everybody gave me over; my very heart
was ready to break,” etc. Others, again, afflict themselves with the
apprehension of evils to come; and very ridiculously: for the _one_
does not _now_ concern us, and the _other_ not _yet_: beside that,
there may he remedies for mischiefs likely to happen; for they give us
warning by signs and symptoms of their approach. Let him that would be
quiet take heed not to provoke men that are in power, but live without
giving offence; and if we cannot make all great men our friends, it
will suffice to keep them from being our enemies. This is a thing we
must avoid, as a mariner would do a storm.

A rash seaman never considers what wind blows, or what course he
steers, but runs at a venture, as if he would brave the rocks and the
eddies; whereas he that is careful and considerate, informs himself
beforehand where the danger lies, and what weather it is like to be:
he consults his compass, and keeps aloof from those places that are
infamous for wrecks and miscarriages; so does a wise man in the common
business of life; he keeps out of the way from those that may do him
hurt: but it is a point of prudence not to let them take notice that
he does it on purpose; for that which a man shuns he tacitly condemns.
Let him have a care also of _listeners_, _newsmongers_, and _meddlers_
in other people’s matters; for their discourse is commonly of such
things as are never profitable, and most commonly dangerous either to
be spoken or heard.

Levity of mind is a great hindrance of repose, and the very change
of wickedness is an addition to the wickedness itself; for it is
inconstancy added to iniquity; we relinquish the thing we sought, and
then we take it up again; and so divide our lives between our lust and
our repentances. From one appetite we pass to another, not so much
upon choice as for change; and there is a check of conscience that
casts a damp upon all our unlawful pleasures, which makes us lose the
day in expectation of the night, and the night itself for fear of the
approaching light.

Some people are _never_ at quiet, others are _always_ so, and they are
both to blame: for that which looks like vivacity and industry in the
one is only a restlessness and agitation; and that which passes in the
other for moderation and reserve is but a drowsy and unactive sloth.
Let motion and rest both take their turns, according to the order of
Nature, which makes both the day and the night. Some are perpetually
shifting from one thing to another; others, again, make their whole
life but a kind of uneasy sleep: some lie tossing and turning until
very weariness brings them to rest; others, again, I cannot so properly
call inconstant as lazy. There are many proprieties and diversities of
vice; but it is one never-failing effect of it to live displeased. We
do all of us labor under inordinate desires; we are either timorous,
and dare not venture, or venturing we do not succeed; or else we cast
ourselves upon uncertain hopes, where we are perpetually solicitous,
and in suspense. In this distraction we are apt to propose to ourselves
things dishonest and hard; and when we have taken great pains to no
purpose, we come then to repent of our undertakings: we are afraid to
go on, and we can neither master our appetites nor obey them: we live
and die restless and irresolute; and, which is worst of all, when we
grow weary of the public, and betake ourselves to solitude for relief,
our minds are sick and wallowing, and the very house and walls are
troublesome to us; we grow impatient and ashamed of ourselves, and
suppress our inward vexation until it breaks our heart for want of
vent. This is it that makes us sour and morose, envious of others, and
dissatisfied with ourselves; until at last, betwixt our troubles for
other people’s successes and the despair of our own, we fall foul upon
Fortune and the times, and get into a corner perhaps, where we sit
brooding over our own disquiets. In these dispositions there is a kind
of pruriginous fancy, that makes some people take delight in labor and
uneasiness, like the clawing of an itch until the blood starts.

This is it that puts us upon rambling voyages; one while by land; but
still disgusted with the present: the town pleases us to-day, the
country to-morrow: the splendors of the court at one time, the horrors
of a wilderness at another, but all this while we carry our plague
about us; for it is not the place we are weary of, but ourselves. Nay,
our weakness extends to everything; for we are impatient equally of
toil and of pleasure. This trotting of the ring, and only treading
the same steps over and over again, has made many a man lay violent
hands upon himself. It must be the change of the mind, not of the
climate, that will remove the heaviness of the heart; our vices go
along with us, and we carry in ourselves the causes of our disquiets.
There is a great weight lies upon us, and the bare shocking of it
makes it the more uneasy; changing of countries, in this case, is not
travelling, but wandering. We must keep on our course, if we would gain
our journey’s end. “He that cannot live happily anywhere, will live
happily nowhere.” What is a man the better for travelling? as if his
cares could not find him out wherever he goes? Is there any retiring
from the fear of death, or of torments? or from those difficulties
which beset a man wherever he is? It is only philosophy that makes the
mind invincible, and places us out of the reach of fortune, so that
all her arrows fall short of us. This it is that reclaims the rage of
our lusts, and sweetens the anxiety of our fears. Frequent changing of
places or councils, shows an instability of mind; and we must fix the
body before we can fix the soul. We can hardly stir abroad, or look
about us, without encountering something or other that revives our
appetites. As he that would cast off an unhappy love avoids whatsoever
may put him in mind of the person, so he that would wholly deliver
himself from his beloved lusts must shun all objects that may put them
in his head again, and remind him of them. We travel, as children run
up and down after strange sights, for novelty, not profit; we return
neither the better nor the sounder; nay, and the very agitation hurts
us. We learn to call towns and places by their names, and to tell
stories of mountains and of rivers; but had not our time been better
spent in the study of wisdom and of virtue? in the learning of what
is already discovered, and in the quest of things not yet found out?
If a man break his leg, or strain his ankle, he sends presently for a
surgeon to set all right again, and does not take horse upon it, or put
himself on ship-board; no more does the change of place work upon our
disordered minds than upon our bodies. It is not the place, I hope,
that makes either an orator or a physician. Will any man ask upon the
road, Pray, which is the way to prudence, to justice, to temperance,
to fortitude? No matter whither any man goes that carries his
affections along with him. He that would make his travels delightful
must make himself a temperate companion.

A great traveller was complaining that he was never the better for his
travels; “That is very true,” said Socrates, “because you travelled
with yourself.” Now, had not he better have made himself another man
than to transport himself to another place? It is no matter what
manners we find anywhere; so long as we carry our own. But we have all
of us a natural curiosity of seeing fine sights, and of making new
discoveries, turning over antiquities, learning the customs of nations,
etc. We are never quiet; to-day we seek an office, to-morrow we are
sick of it. We divide our lives betwixt a dislike of the present and a
desire of the future: but he that lives as he should, orders himself
so, as neither to fear nor to wish for to-morrow; if it comes, it is
welcome; but if not, there is nothing lost; for that which is come, is
but the same over again with what is past. As levity is a pernicious
enemy to quiet, so pertinacity is a great one too. The one changes
nothing, the other sticks to nothing; and which of the two is the
worse, may be a question. It is many times seen, that we beg earnestly
for those things, which, if they were offered us, we would refuse; and
it is but just to punish this easiness of asking with an equal facility
of granting. There are some things we would be thought to desire, which
we are so far from desiring that we dread them. “I shall tire you,”
says one, in the middle of a tedious story. “Nay, pray be pleased to
go on,” we cry, though we wish his tongue out at half-way: nay, we do
not deal candidly even with God himself. We should say to ourselves
in these cases, “This I have drawn upon myself. I could never be quiet
until I had gotten this woman, this place, this estate, this honor, and
now see what is come of it.”

One sovereign remedy against all misfortunes is constancy of mind: the
changing of parties and countenances looks as if a man were driven with
the wind. Nothing can be above him that is above fortune. It is not
violence, reproach, contempt, or whatever else from without, that can
make a wise man quit his ground: but he is proof against calamities,
both great and small: only our error is, that what we cannot do
ourselves, we think nobody else can; so that we judge of the wise by
the measures of the weak. Place me among princes or among beggars, the
one shall not make me proud, nor the other ashamed. I can take as sound
a sleep in a barn as in a palace, and a bundle of hay makes me as good
a lodging as a bed of down. Should every day succeed to my wish, it
should not transport me; nor would I think myself miserable if I should
not have one quiet hour in my life. I will not transport myself with
either pain or pleasure; but yet for all that, I could wish that I had
an easier game to play, and that I were put rather to moderate my joys
than my sorrows. If I were an imperial prince, I had rather take than
be taken; and yet I would bear the same mind under the chariot of my
conqueror that I had in my own. It is no great matter to trample upon
those things that are most coveted or feared by the common people.
There are those that will laugh upon the wheel, and cast themselves
upon a certain death, only upon a transport of love, perhaps anger,
avarice, or revenge; how much more then upon an instinct of virtue,
which is invincible and steady! If a short obstinacy of mind can do
this, how much more shall a composed and deliberate virtue, whose force
is equal and perpetual.

To secure ourselves in this world, first, we must aim at nothing that
men count worth the wrangling for. Secondly, we must not value the
possession of any thing which even a common thief would think worth the
stealing. A man’s body is no booty. Let the way be never so dangerous
for robberies, the poor and the naked pass quietly. A plain-dealing
sincerity of manners makes a man’s life happy, even in despite of scorn
and contempt, which is every clear man’s fate. But we had better yet
be contemned for simplicity than lie perpetually upon the torture of
a counterfeit; provided that care be taken not to confound simplicity
with negligence; and it is, moreover, an uneasy life that of a
disguise; for a man to seem to be what he is not, to keep a perpetual
guard upon himself, and to live in fear of a discovery. He takes every
man that looks upon him for a spy, over and above the trouble of being
put to play another man’s part. It is a good remedy in some cases for
a man to apply himself to civil affairs and public business; and yet,
in this state of life too, what betwixt ambition and calumny, it is
hardly safe to be honest. There are, indeed, some cases wherein a wise
man will give way; but let him not yield over easily neither; if he
marches off, let him have a care of his honor, and make his retreat
with his sword in his hand, and his face to the enemy. Of all others, a
studious life is the least tiresome: it makes us easy to ourselves and
to others, and gains us both friends and reputation.



Never pronounce any man happy that depends upon fortune for his
happiness; for nothing can be more preposterous than to place the
good of a reasonable creature in unreasonable things. If I have lost
any thing, it was adventitious; and the less money, the less trouble;
the less favor, the less envy; nay, even in those cases that put us
out of their wits, it is not the loss itself, but the opinion of the
loss, that troubles us. It is a common mistake to account those things
necessary that are superfluous, and to depend upon fortune for the
felicity of life, which arises only from virtue. There is no trusting
to her smiles; the sea swells and rages in a moment, and the ships are
swallowed at night, in the very place where they sported themselves in
the morning. And fortune has the same power over princes that it has
over empires, over nations that it has over cities, and the same power
over cities that it has over private men. Where is that estate that may
not be followed upon the heel with famine and beggary? that dignity
which the next moment may not be laid in the dust? that kingdom that is
secure from desolation and ruin? The period of all things is at hand,
as well that which casts out the fortunate as the other that delivers
the unhappy; and that which may fall out at any time may fall out this
very day. What _shall_ come to pass I know not, but what _may_ come to
pass I know: so that I will despair of nothing, but expect everything;
and whatsoever Providence remits is clear gain. Every moment, if it
spares me, deceives me; and yet in some sort it does not deceive me;
for though I know that any thing may happen, yet I know likewise
that everything will not. I will hope the best, and provide for the
worst. Methinks we should not find so much fault with Fortune for her
inconstancy when we ourselves suffer a change every moment that we
live; only other changes make more noise, and this steals upon us like
the shadow upon a dial, every jot as certainly, but more insensibly.

The burning of Lyons may serve to show us that we are never safe, and
to arm us against all surprises. The terror of it must needs be great,
for the calamity is almost without example. If it had been fired by an
enemy, the flame would have left some further mischief to have been
done by the soldiers; but to be wholly consumed, we have not heard of
many earthquakes so pernicious: so many rarities to be destroyed in
one night; and in the depth of peace to suffer an outrage beyond the
extremity of war; who would believe it? but twelve hours betwixt so
fair a city and none at all! It was laid in ashes in less time than it
would require to tell the story.

To stand unshaken in such a calamity is hardly to be expected, and
our wonder can but be equal to our grief. Let this accident teach us
to provide against all possibilities that fall within the power of
fortune. All external things are under her dominion: one while she
calls our hands to her assistance; another while she contents herself
with her own force, and destroys us with mischiefs of which we cannot
find the author. No time, place, or condition, is excepted; she makes
our very pleasures painful to us; she makes war upon us in the depth of
peace, and turns the means of our security into an occasion of fear;
she turns a friend into an enemy, and makes a foe of a companion; we
suffer the effects of war without any adversary; and rather than fail,
our felicity shall be the cause of our destruction. Lest we should
either forget or neglect her power, every day produces something
extraordinary. She persecutes the most temperate with sickness, the
strongest constitutions with the phthisis; she brings the innocent
to punishment, and the most retired she assaults with tumults. Those
glories that have grown up with many ages, with infinite labor and
expense, and under the favor of many auspicious providences, one day
scatters and brings to nothing. He that pronounced a day, nay, an hour,
sufficient for the destruction of the greatest empire, might have
fallen to a moment.

It were some comfort yet to the frailty of mankind and of human
affairs, if things might but decay as slowly as they rise; but they
grow by degrees, and they fall to ruin in an instant. There is no
felicity in anything either private or public; men, nations, and
cities, have all their fates and periods; our very entertainments are
not without terror, and our calamity rises there where we least expect
it. Those kingdoms that stood the shock both of foreign wars and civil,
come to destruction without the sight of an enemy. Nay, we are to dread
our peace and felicity more than violence, because we are here taken
unprovided; unless in a state of peace we do the duty of men in war,
and say to ourselves, _Whatsoever may be, will be_. I am to-day safe
and happy in the love of my country; I am to-morrow banished: to-day in
pleasure, peace, health; to-morrow broken upon a wheel, led in triumph,
and in the agony of sickness. Let us therefore prepare for a shipwreck
in the port, and for a tempest in a calm. One violence drives me from
my country, another ravishes that from me; and that very place where
a man can hardly pass this day for a crowd may be to-morrow a desert.
Wherefore let us set before our eyes the whole condition of human
nature, and consider as well what _may_ happen as what commonly _does_.
The way to make future calamities easy to us in the sufferance, is to
make them familiar to us in the contemplation. How many cities in Asia,
Achaia, Assyria, Macedonia, have been swallowed up by earthquakes?
nay, whole countries are lost, and large provinces laid under water;
but time brings all things to an end; for all the works of mortals
are mortal; all possessions and their possessors are uncertain and
perishable; and what wonder is it to lose anything at any time, when we
must one day lose all?

That which we call our own is but lent us; and what we have received
_gratis_ we must return without complaint. That which Fortune gives
us this hour she may take away the next; and he that trusts to her
favors, shall either find himself deceived, or if he be not, he will
at least be troubled, because he may be so. There is no defence in
walls, fortifications, and engines, against the power of fortune; we
must provide ourselves within, and when we are safe there, we are
invincible; we may be battered, but not taken. She throws her gifts
among us, and we sweat and scuffle for them, never considering how few
are the better for that which is expected by all. Some are transported
with what they get; others tormented for what they miss; and many
times there is a leg or an arm broken in a contest for a counter. She
gives us honors, riches, favors, only to take them away again, either
by violence or treachery: so that they frequently turn to the damage
of the receiver. She throws out baits for us, and sets traps as we do
for birds and beasts; her bounties are snares and lime-twigs to us; we
think that we take, but we are taken. If they had any thing in them
that was substantial, they would some time or other fill and quiet us;
but they serve only to provoke our appetite without anything more than
pomp and show to allay it. But the best of it is, if a man cannot mend
his fortune, he may yet mend his manners, and put himself so far out of
her reach, that whether she gives or takes, it shall be all one to us;
for we are neither the greater for the one, nor the less for the other.
We call this a dark room, or that a light one; when it is in itself
neither the one nor the other, but only as the day and the night render
it. And so it is in riches, strength of body, beauty, honor, command:
and likewise in pain, sickness, banishment, death: which are in
themselves middle and indifferent things, and only good or bad as they
are influenced by virtue. To weep, lament, and groan, is to renounce
our duty; and it is the same weakness on the other side to exult and
rejoice. I would rather make my fortune than expect it; being neither
depressed with her injuries, nor dazzled with her favors. When Zeno was
told, that all his goods were drowned; “Why then,” says he, “Fortune
has a mind to make me a philosopher.” It is a great matter for a man to
advance his mind above her threats or flatteries; for he that has once
gotten the better of her is safe forever.

It is some comfort yet to the unfortunate, that great men lie under the
lash for company; and that death spares the palace no more than the
cottage, and that whoever is above me has a power also above him. Do
we not daily see funerals without trouble, princes deposed, countries
depopulated, towns sacked; without so much as thinking how soon it may
be our own case? whereas, if we would but prepare and arm ourselves
against the iniquities of fortune, we should never be surprised.

When we see any man banished, beggared, tortured, we are to account,
that though the mischief fell upon another, it was levelled at us. What
wonder is it if, of so many thousands of dangers that are constantly
hovering about us, one comes to hit us at last? That which befalls any
man, may befall every man; and then it breaks the force of a present
calamity to provide against the future. Whatsoever our lot is, we must
bear it: as suppose it be contumely, cruelty, fire, sword, pains,
diseases, or a prey to wild beasts; there is no struggling, nor any
remedy but moderation. It is to no purpose to bewail any part of our
life, when life itself is miserable throughout; and the whole flux of
it only a course of transition from one misfortune to another.

A man may as well wonder that he should be cold in winter, sick at sea,
or have his bones clatter together in a wagon, as at the encounter
of ill accidents and crosses in the passage of human life; and it is
in vain to run away from fortune, as if there were any hiding-place
wherein she could not find us; or to expect any quiet from her; for she
makes life a perpetual state of war, without so much as any respite or
truce. This we may conclude upon, that her empire is but imaginary, and
that whosoever serves her, makes himself a voluntary slave; for “the
things that are often contemned by the inconsiderate, and always by the
wise, are in themselves neither good nor evil:” as pleasure and pains;
prosperity and adversity; which can only operate upon our outward
condition, without any proper and necessary effect upon the mind.



The sensuality that we here treat of falls naturally under the head of
luxury; which extends to all the excesses of gluttony, lust, effeminacy
of manners; and, in short, to whatsoever concerns the overgreat care of
the carcass.

To begin now with the pleasures of the palate, (which deal with us like
Egyptian thieves, that strangle those they embrace), what shall we say
of the luxury of Nomentanus and Apicius, that entertained their very
souls in the kitchen: they have the choicest music for their ears; the
most diverting spectacles for their eyes; the choicest variety of meats
and drinks for their palates. What is all this, I say, but a _merry
madness_? It is true, they have their delights, but not without heavy
and anxious thoughts, even in their very enjoyments, beside that, they
are followed with repentance, and their frolics are little more than
the laughter of so many people out of their wits. Their felicities are
full of disquiet, and neither sincere nor well grounded: but they have
need of one pleasure to support another; and of new prayers to forgive
the errors of their former. Their life must needs be wretched that get
with great pains what they keep with greater.

One diversion overtakes another; hope excites hope; ambition begets
ambition; so that they only change the matter of their miseries,
without seeking any end of them; and shall never be without either
prosperous or unhappy causes of disquiet. What if a body might have
all the pleasures in the world for the asking? who would so much unman
himself, as by accepting of them, to desert his soul, and become a
perpetual slave to his senses? Those false and miserable palates, that
judge of meats by the price and difficulty, not by the healthfulness
of taste, they vomit that they may eat, and they eat that they may
fetch it up again. They cross the seas for rarities, and when they have
swallowed them, they will not so much as give them time to digest.
Wheresoever Nature has placed men, she has provided them aliment: but
we rather choose to irritate hunger by expense than to allay it at an
easier rate.

What is it that we plow the seas for; or arm ourselves against men and
beasts? To what end do we toil, and labor, and pile bags upon bags? We
may enlarge our fortunes, but we cannot our bodies; so that it does
but spill and run over, whatsoever we take more than we can hold. Our
forefathers (by the force of whose virtues we are now supported in our
vices) lived every jot as well as we, when they provided and dressed
their own meat with their own hands; lodged upon the ground, and were
not as yet come to the vanity of gold and gems; when they swore by
their earthen gods, and kept their oath, though they died for it.

Did not our consuls live more happily when they cooked their own meat
with those victorious hands that had conquered so many enemies and
won so many laurels? Did they not live more happily, I say, than our
Apicius (that corrupter of youth, and plague of the age he lived in)
who, after he had spent a prodigious fortune upon his belly, poisoned
himself for fear of starving, when he had yet 250,000 crowns in his
coffers? which may serve to show us, that it is the mind, and not
the sum, that makes any man rich; when Apicius with all his treasure
counted himself in a state of beggary, and took poison to avoid that
condition, which another would have prayed for. But why do we call
it poison, which was the wholesomest draught of his life? His daily
gluttony was poison rather, both to himself and others. His ostentation
of it was intolerable; and so was the infinite pains he took to mislead
others by his example, who went even fast enough of themselves without

It is a shame for a man to place his felicity in those entertainments
and appetites that are stronger in brutes. Do not beasts eat with a
better stomach? Have they not more satisfaction in their lusts? And
they have not only a quicker relish of their pleasures, but they enjoy
them without either scandal or remorse. If sensuality were happiness,
beasts were happier than men; but human felicity is lodged in the
soul, not in the flesh. They that deliver themselves up to luxury
are still either tormented with too little, or oppressed with too
much; and equally miserable, by being either deserted or overwhelmed:
they are like men in a dangerous sea; one while cast a-dry upon a
rock, and another while swallowed up in a whirlpool; and all this
from the mistake of not distinguishing good from evil. The huntsman,
that with which labor and hazard takes a wild beast, runs as great a
risk afterwards in the keeping of him; for many times he tears out
the throat of his master; and it is the same thing with inordinate
pleasures: the more in number, and the greater they are, the more
general and absolute a slave is the servant of them. Let the common
people pronounce him as happy as they please, he pays his liberty for
his delights, and sells himself for what he buys.

Let any man take a view of our kitchens, the number of our cooks, and
the variety of our meats; will he not wonder to see so much provision
made for one belly? We have as many diseases as we have cooks or
meats; and the service of the appetite is the study now in vogue. To
say nothing of our trains of lackeys, and our troops of caterers and
sewers: Good God! that ever one belly should employ so many people!
How nauseous and fulsome are the surfeits that follow these excesses?
Simple meats are out of fashion, and all are collected into one; so
that the cook does the office of the stomach; nay, and of the teeth
too; for the meat looks as if it were chewed beforehand: here is the
luxury of all tastes in one dish, and liker a vomit than a soup. From
these compounded dishes arise compounded diseases, which require
compounded medicines. It is the same thing with our minds that it is
with our tables; simple vices are curable by simple counsels, but a
general dissolution of manners is hardly overcome; we are overrun with
a public as well as with a private madness. The physicians of old
understood little more than the virtue of some herbs to stop blood, or
heal a wound; and their firm and healthful bodies needed little more
before they were corrupted by luxury and pleasure; and when it came to
that once, their business was not to allay hunger, but to provoke it by
a thousand inventions and sauces. That which was aliment to a craving
stomach is become a burden to a full one. From hence came paleness,
trembling, and worse effects from crudities than famine; a weakness in
the joints, the belly stretched, suffusion of choler, the torpor of
the nerves, and a palpitation of the heart. To say nothing of megrims,
torments of the eyes and ears, head-ache, gout, scurvy, several sorts
of fevers and putrid ulcers, with other diseases that are but the
punishment of luxury. So long as our bodies were hardened with labor,
or tired with exercise or hunting, our food was plain and simple; many
dishes have made many diseases.

It is an ill thing for a man not to know the measure of his stomach,
nor to consider that men do many things in their drink that they are
ashamed of sober; drunkenness being nothing else but a voluntary
madness. It emboldens men to do all sorts of mischiefs; it both
irritates wickedness and discovers it; it does not make men vicious,
but it shows them to be so. It was in a drunken fit that Alexander
killed Clytus. It makes him that is insolent prouder, him that is
cruel fiercer, it takes away all shame. He that is peevish breaks out
presently into ill words and blows. The lecher, without any regard to
decency or scandal, turns up his whore in the market-place. A man’s
tongue trips, his head runs round, he staggers in his pace. To say
nothing of the crudities and diseases that follow upon this distemper,
consider the public mischiefs it has done. How many warlike nations
and strong cities, that have stood invincible to attacks and sieges,
has drunkenness overcome! Is it not a great honor to drink the company
dead? a magnificent virtue to swallow more wine than the rest, and yet
at last to be outdone by a hogshead? What shall we say of those men
that invert the offices of day and night? as if our eyes were only
given us to make use of in the dark? Is it day? “It is time to go to
bed.” Is it night? “It is time to rise.” Is it toward morning? “Let us
go to supper.” When other people lie down they rise, and lie till the
next night to digest the debauch of the day before. It is an argument
of clownery, to do as other people do.

Luxury steals upon us by degrees; first, it shows itself in a more
than ordinary care of our bodies, it slips next into the furniture of
our houses; and it gets then into the fabric, curiosity, and expense
of the house itself. It appears, lastly, in the fantastical excesses
of our tables. We change and shuffle our meats, confound our sauces,
serve that in first that used to be last, and value our dishes, not for
the taste, but for the rarity. Nay, we are so delicate, that we must
be told when we are to eat or drink; when we are hungry or weary; and
we cherish some vices as proofs and arguments of our happiness. The
most miserable mortals are they that deliver themselves up to their
palates, or to their lusts: the pleasure is short and turns presently
nauseous, and the end of it is either shame or repentance. It is a
brutal entertainment, and unworthy of a man, to place his felicity in
the service of his senses. As to the wrathful, the contentious, the
ambitious, though the distemper be great, the offence has yet something
in it that is manly; but the basest of prostitutes are those that
dedicate themselves wholly to lust; what with their hopes and fears,
anxiety of thought, and perpetual disquiets, they are never well, full
nor fasting.

What a deal of business is now made about our houses and diet, which
was at first both obvious and of little expense? Luxury led the
way, and we have employed our wits in the aid of our vices. First
we desired superfluities, our next step was to wickedness, and, in
conclusion, we delivered up our minds to our bodies, and so became
slaves to our appetites, which before were our servants, and are now
become our masters. What was it that brought us to the extravagance
of embroideries, perfumes, tire-women, etc. We passed the bounds of
Nature, and launched out into superfluities; insomuch, that it is
now-a-days only for beggars and clowns to content themselves with what
is sufficient; our luxury makes us insolent and mad. We take upon us
like princes, and fly out for every trifle, as though there were life
and death in the case. What a madness is it for a man to lay out an
estate upon a table or a cabinet, a patrimony upon a pain of pendants,
and to inflame the price of curiosities according to the hazard either
of breaking or losing of them? To wear garments that will neither
defend a woman’s body, nor her modesty: so thin that one could make a
conscience of swearing she were naked: for she hardly shows more in
the privacies of her amour than in public? How long shall we covet
and oppress, enlarge our possessions, and account that too little for
one man which was formerly enough for a nation? And our luxury is as
insatiable as our avarice. Where is that lake, that sea, that forest,
that spot of land; that is not ransacked to gratify our palate? The
very earth is burdened with our buildings; not a river, not a mountain,
escapes us. Oh, that there should be such boundless desires in our
little bodies! Would not fewer lodgings serve us? We lie but in one,
and where we are not, that is not properly ours. What with our hooks,
snares, nets, dogs, etc., we are at war with all living creatures; and
nothing comes amiss but that which is either too cheap, or too common;
and all this is to gratify a fantastical palate. Our avarice, our
ambition, our lusts, are insatiable; we enlarge our possessions, swell
our families, we rifle sea and land for matter of ornament and luxury.
A bull contents himself with one meadow, and one forest is enough for a
thousand elephants; but the little body of a man devours more than all
other living creatures. We do not eat to satisfy hunger, but ambition;
we are dead while we are alive, and our houses are so much our tombs,
that a man might write our _epitaphs_ upon our very doors.

A voluptuous person, in fine, can neither be a good man, a good
patriot, nor a good friend; for he is transported with his appetites,
without considering, that the lot of man is the law of Nature. A good
man (like a good soldier) will stand his ground, receive wounds, glory
in his scars, and in death itself love his master for whom he falls;
with that divine precept always in his mind, “Follow good:” whereas
he that complains, laments, and groans, must yield nevertheless, and
do his duty though in spite of his heart. Now, what a madness is it
for a man to choose rather to be lugged than to follow, and vainly to
contend with the calamities of human life? Whatsoever is laid upon
us by necessity, we should receive generously; for it is foolish to
strive with what we cannot avoid. We are born subjects, and to obey
God is perfect liberty. He that does this shall be free, safe, and
quiet: all his actions shall succeed to his wish: and what can any man
desire more than to want nothing from without, and to have all things
desirable within himself? Pleasures do but weaken our minds, and send
us for our support to Fortune, who gives us money only as the wages of
slavery. We must stop our eyes and our ears. Ulysses had but one rock
to fear, but human life has many. Every city, nay, every man, is one;
and there is no trusting even to our nearest friends. Deliver me from
the superstition of taking those things which are light and vain for



The man that would be truly rich must not increase his fortune, but
retrench his appetites: for riches are not only superfluous, but mean,
and little more to the possessor than to the looker-on. What is the
end of ambition and avarice, when at best we are but stewards of what
we falsely call our own? All those things that we pursue with so much
hazard and expense of blood, as well to keep as to get, for which we
break faith and friendship, what are they but the mere _deposita_ of
Fortune? and not ours, but already inclining toward a new master.
There is nothing our own but that which we give to ourselves, and of
which we have a certain and an inexpugnable possession. Avarice is
so insatiable, that it is not in the power of liberality to content
it; and our desires are so boundless, that whatever we get is but in
the way to getting more without end: and so long as we are solicitous
for the increase of wealth, we lose the true use of it; and spend our
time in putting out, calling in, and passing our accounts, without
any substantial benefit, either to the world or to ourselves. What is
the difference betwixt old men and children? the one cries for nuts
and apples, and the other for gold and silver: the one sets up courts
of justice, hears and determines, acquits and condemns, in jest; the
other in earnest: the one makes houses of clay, the other of marble:
so that the works of old men are nothing in the world but the progress
and improvement of children’s errors; and they are to be admonished and
punished too like children, not in revenge for injuries received, but
as a correction of injuries done, and to make them give over. There
is some substance yet in gold and silver; but as to judgments and
statutes, procuration and continuance-money, these are only the visions
and dreams of avarice. Throw a crust of bread to a dog, he takes it
open-mouthed, swallows it whole, and presently gapes for more: just so
do we with the gifts of Fortune; down they go without chewing, and we
are immediately ready for another chop. But what has avarice now to do
with gold and silver, that is so much outdone by curiosities of a far
greater value? Let us no longer complain that there was not a heavier
load laid upon those precious metals, or that they were not buried
deep enough, when we have found out ways by wax and parchments, and
by bloody usurious contracts, to undo one another. It is remarkable,
that Providence has given us all things for our advantage near at hand;
but iron, gold, and silver, (being both the instrument of blood and
slaughter, and the price of it) Nature has hidden in the bowels of the

There is no avarice without some punishment, over and above that which
it is to itself. How miserable is it in the desire! how miserable even
in the attaining of our ends! For money is a greater torment in the
possession than it is in the pursuit. The fear of losing it is a great
trouble, the loss of it a greater, and it is made a greater yet by
opinion. Nay, even in the case of no direct loss at all, the covetous
man loses what he does not get. It is true, the people call the rich
man a happy man, and wish themselves in his condition; but can any
condition be worse than that which carries vexation and envy along with
it? Neither is any man to boast of his fortune, his herds of cattle,
his number of slaves, his lands and palaces; for comparing that which
he has to that which he further covets, he is a beggar. No man can
possess all things, but any man may contemn them; and the contempt of
riches is the nearest way to the gaining of them.

Some magistrates are made for money, and those commonly are bribed with
money. We are all turned merchants, and look not into the quality of
things, but into the price of them; for reward we are pious, and for
reward again we are impious. We are honest so long as we may thrive
upon it; but if the devil himself gives better wages, we change our
party. Our parents have trained us up into an admiration of gold and
silver, and the love of it is grown up with us to that degree that
when we would show our gratitude to Heaven, we make presents of those
metals. This it is that makes poverty look like a curse and a reproach;
and the poets help it forward; the chariot of the sun must be all of
gold; the best of times must be the Golden Age, and thus they turn the
greatest misery of mankind into the greatest blessings.

Neither does avarice make us only unhappy in ourselves, but malevolent
also to mankind. The soldier wishes for war; the husbandman would have
his corn dear; the lawyer prays for dissension; the physician for a
sickly year; he that deals in curiosities, for luxury and excess, for
he makes up his fortunes out of the corruptions of the age. High winds
and public conflagrations make work for the carpenter and bricklayer,
and one man lives by the loss of another; some few, perhaps, have
the fortune to be detected, but they are all wicked alike. A great
plague makes work for the sexton; and, in one word, whosoever gains
by the dead has not much kindness for the living. Demades of Athens
condemned a fellow that sold necessaries for funerals, upon proof that
he wished to make himself a fortune by his trade, which could not be
but by a great mortality; but perhaps he did not so much desire to have
many customers, as to sell dear, and buy cheap; besides, that all of
that trade might have been condemned as well as he. Whatsoever whets
our appetites, flatters and depresses the mind, and, by dilating it,
weakens it; first blowing it up, and then filling and deluding it with

To proceed now from the most prostitute of all vices, sensuality and
avarice, to that which passes in the world for the most generous, the
thirst of glory and dominion. If they that run mad after wealth and
honor, could but look into the hearts of them that have already gained
these points, how would it startle them to see those hideous cares and
crimes that wait upon ambitious greatness: all those acquisitions that
dazzle the eyes of the vulgar are but false pleasures, slippery and
uncertain. They are achieved with labor, and the very guard of them is
painful. Ambition puffs us up with vanity and wind: and we are equally
troubled either to see any body before us, or nobody behind us; so that
we lie under a double envy; for whosoever envies another is also envied
himself. What matters it how far Alexander extended his conquests,
if he was not yet satisfied with what he had? Every man wants as
much as he covets; and it is lost labor to pour into a vessel that
will never be full. He that had subdued so many princes and nations,
upon the killing of Clytus (one friend) and the loss of Hyphestion
(another) delivered himself up to anger and sadness; and when he was
master of the world, he was yet a slave to his passions. Look into
Cyrus, Cambyses, and the whole Persian line, and you shall not find so
much as one man of them that died satisfied with what he had gotten.
Ambition aspires from great things to greater; and propounds matters
even impossible, when it has once arrived at things beyond expectation.
It is a kind of dropsy; the more a man drinks, the more he covets. Let
any man but observe the tumults and the crowds that attend palaces;
what affronts must we endure to be admitted, and how much greater when
we are in! The passage to virtue is fair, but the way to greatness
is craggy and it stands not only upon a precipice, but upon ice too;
and yet it is a hard matter to convince a great man that his station
is slippery, or to prevail with him not to depend upon his greatness;
but all superfluities are hurtful. A rank crop lays the corn; too
great a burden of fruit breaks the bough; and our minds may be as well
overcharged with an immoderate happiness. Nay, though we ourselves
would be at rest, our fortune will not suffer it: the way that leads
to honor and riches leads to troubles; and we find the source of our
sorrows in the very objects of our delights.

What joy is there in feasting and luxury; in ambition and a crowd of
clients; in the arms of a mistress, or in the vanity of an unprofitable
knowledge? These short and false pleasures deceive us, and, like
drunkenness, revenge the jolly madness of _one_ hour with the nauseous
and sad repentance of _many_. Ambition is like a gulf: everything is
swallowed up in it and buried, beside the dangerous consequences of
it; for that which one has taken from all, may be easily taken away
again by all from one. It was not either virtue or reason, but the
mad love of a deceitful greatness, that animated Pompey in his wars,
either abroad or at home. What was it but his ambition that hurried
him to Spain, Africa, and elsewhere, when he was too great already
in everybody’s opinion but his own? And the same motive had Julius
Cæsar, who could not, even then, brook a superior himself, when the
commonwealth had submitted unto two already.

Nor was it any instinct of virtue that pushed on Marius, who at the
head of an army was himself led on under the command of ambition: but
he came at last to the deserved fate of other wicked men, and to drink
himself of the same cup that he had filled to others. We impose upon
our reason, when we suffer ourselves to be transported with titles; for
we know that they are nothing but a more glorious sound; and so for
ornaments and gildings, though there be a lustre to dazzle our eyes,
our understanding tells us that it is only outside, and the matter
under it is only coarse and common.

I will never envy those that the people call great and happy. A sound
mind is not to be shaken with a popular and vain applause; nor is it
in the power of their pride to disturb the state of our happiness. An
honest man is known now-a-days by the dust he raises upon the way, and
it is become a point of honor to overrun people, and keep all at a
distance; though he that is put out of the way may perchance be happier
than he that takes it. He that would exercise a power profitable to
himself, and grievous to nobody else, let him practice it upon his
passion. They that have burnt cities, otherwise invincible, driven
armies before them, and bathed themselves in human blood, after they
have overcome all open enemies, they have been vanquished by their
lust, by their cruelty, and without any resistance.

Alexander was possessed with the madness of laying kingdoms waste.
He began with Greece, where he was brought up; and there he quarried
himself upon that in it which was the best; he enslaved Lacedemon, and
silenced Athens: nor was he content with the destruction of those towns
which his father Philip had either conquered or bought; but he made
himself the enemy of human nature; and, like the worst of beasts, he
worried what he could not eat.

Felicity is an unquiet thing; it torments itself, and puzzles the
brain. It makes some people ambitious, others luxurious; it puffs up
some, and softens others; only (as it is with wine) some heads bear
it better than others; but it dissolves all. Greatness stands upon a
precipice: and if prosperity carries a man never so little beyond his
poise, it overbears and dashes him to pieces. It is a rare thing for
a man in a great fortune to lay down his happiness gently; it being a
common fate for a man to sink under the weight of those felicities that
raise him. How many of the nobility did Marius bring down to herdsmen
and other mean offices! Nay, in the very moment of our despising
servants, we may be made so ourselves.



No man can be said to be perfectly happy that runs the risk of
disappointment: which is the case of every man that _fears_ or _hopes_
for anything. For _hope_ and _fear_, how distant soever they may seem
to be the one from the other, they are both of them yet coupled in the
same chain, as the guard and the prisoner; and the one treads upon
the heels of the other. The reason of this is obvious, for they are
passions that look forward, and are ever solicitous for the future;
only _hope_ is the more plausible weakness of the two, which in truth,
upon the main, are inseparable; for the one cannot be without the
other: but where the _hope_ is stronger than the _fear_, or the _fear_
than the _hope_, we call it the one or the other; for without _fear_ it
were no longer _hope_, but _certainty_; as without _hope_ it were no
longer _fear_ but _despair_.

We may come to understand whether our disputes are vain or not, if we
do but consider that we are either troubled about the _present_, the
_future_ or _both_. If the present, it is easy to judge, and the future
is uncertain. It is a foolish thing to be miserable beforehand for
fear of misery to come; for a man loses the present, which he might
enjoy, in expectation of the future: nay, the fear of losing anything
is as bad as the loss itself. I will be as prudent as I can, but not
timorous or careless; and I will bethink myself, and forecast what
inconveniences may happen before they come. It is true, a man may fear,
and yet not be fearful; which is no more than to have the affection of
fear without the vice of it; but yet a frequent admittance of it runs
into a habit. It is a shameful and an unmanly thing to be doubtful,
timorous, and uncertain; to set one step forward, and another backward;
and to be irresolute. Can there be any man so fearful, that had not
rather fall once than hang always in suspense?

Our miseries are endless, if we stand in fear of all possibilities;
the best way, in such a case, is to drive out one nail with another,
and a little to qualify fear with hope; which may serve to palliate a
misfortune; though not to cure it. There is not anything that we fear,
which is so certain to come, as it is certain that many things which
we do fear will not come; but we are loth to oppose our credulity when
it begins to move us, and so to bring our fear to the test. Well! but
“what if the thing we fear should come to pass?” Perhaps it will be
the better for us. Suppose it be _death_ itself, why may it not prove
the glory of my life? Did not poison make Socrates famous? and was not
Cato’s sword a great part of his honor? “Do we fear any misfortune to
befall us?” We are not presently sure that it will happen. How many
deliverances have come unlooked for? and how many mischiefs that we
looked for have never come to pass? It is time enough to lament when it
comes, and, in the _interim_, to promise ourselves the best. What do I
know but something or other may delay or divert it? Some have escaped
out of the fire; others, when a house has fallen over their head,
have received no hurt: one man has been saved when a sword was at his
throat; another has been condemned, and outlived his headsman: so that
ill-fortune, we see, as well as good, has her levities; peradventure
it will be, peradventure not; and until it comes to pass, we are not
sure of it: we do many times take words in a worse sense than they were
intended, and imagine things to be worse taken than they are. It is
time enough to bear a misfortune when it comes, without anticipating it.

He that would deliver himself from all apprehensions of the future,
let him first take for granted, that all fears will fall upon him; and
then examine and measure the evil that he fears, which he will find
to be neither great nor long. Beside, that the ills which he fears he
may suffer, he suffers in the very fear of them. As in the symptoms of
an approaching disease, a man shall find himself lazy and listless: a
weariness in his limbs, with a yawning and shuddering all over him; so
it is in the case of a weak mind, it fancies misfortunes, and makes a
man wretched before his time. Why should I torment myself at present
with what, perhaps, may fall out fifty years hence? This humor is a
kind of voluntary disease, and an industrious contrivance of our own
unhappiness, to complain of an affliction that we do not feel. Some
are not only moved with grief itself, but with the mere opinion of
it; as children will start at a shadow, or at the sight of a deformed
person. If we stand in fear of violence from a powerful enemy, it is
some comfort to us, that whosoever makes himself terrible to others is
not without fear himself: the least noise makes a lion start; and the
fiercest of beasts, whatsoever enrages them, makes them tremble too: a
shadow, a voice, an unusual odor, rouses them.

The things most to be feared I take to be of three kinds; _want_,
_sickness_, and those _violences_ that may be imposed upon us by a
_strong hand_. The last of these has the greatest force, because it
comes attended with noise and tumult; whereas the incommodities of
poverty and diseases are more natural, and steal upon us in silence,
without any external circumstances of horror: but the other marches in
pomp, with fire and sword, gibbets, racks, hooks; wild beasts to devour
us; stakes to impale us; engines to tear us to pieces; pitched bags to
burn us in, and a thousand other exquisite inventions of cruelty. No
wonder then, if that be the most dreadful to us that presents itself in
so many uncouth shapes; and by the very solemnity is rendered the most
formidable. The more instruments of bodily pain the executioner shows
us, the more frightful he makes himself: for many a man that would have
encountered death in any generous form, with resolution enough, is
yet overcome with the _manner_ of it. As for the calamities of hunger
and thirst, inward ulcers, scorching fevers, tormenting fits of the
stone, I look upon these miseries to be at least as grievous as any
of the rest; only they do not so much affect the fancy, because they
lie out of sight. Some people talk high of danger at a distance; but
(like cowards) when the executioner comes to do his duty, and show us
the fire, the ax, the scaffold, and death at hand, their courage fails
them upon the very pinch, when they have most need of it. Sickness, (I
hope) captivity, fire, are no new things to us; the fall of houses,
funerals, and conflagrations, are every day before our eyes. The man
that I supped with last night is dead before morning; why should I
wonder then, seeing so many fall about me, to be hit at last myself?
What can be greater madness than to cry out, “Who would have dreamed
of this?” And why not, I beseech you? Where is that estate that may
not be reduced to beggary? that dignity which may not be followed with
banishment, disgrace, and extreme contempt? that kingdom that may not
suddenly fall to ruin; change its master, and be depopulated? that
prince that may not pass the hand of a common hangman? That which is
one man’s fortune may be another’s; but the foresight of calamities to
come breaks the violence of them.



How many things are there that the fancy makes terrible by night, which
the day turns into ridiculous! What is there in labor, or in death,
that a man should be afraid of? They are much slighter in act than
in contemplation; and we _may_ contemn them, but we _will_ not: so
that it is not because they are hard that we dread them, but they are
hard because we are first afraid of them. Pains, and other violences
of Fortune, are the same thing to us that goblins are to children:
we are more scared with them than hurt. We take up our opinions upon
trust, and err for company, still judging that to be best that has
most competitors. We make a false calculation of matters, because we
advise with opinion, and not with Nature; and this misleads us to a
higher esteem for riches, honor, and power, than they are worth: we
have been used to admire and recommend them, and a private error is
quickly turned into a public. The greatest and the smallest things
are equally hard to be comprehended; we account many things _great_,
for want of understanding what effectually is so: and we reckon other
things to be _small_, which we find frequently to be of the highest
value. Vain things only move vain minds. The accidents that we so
much boggle at are not terrible in themselves, but they are made so
by our infirmities; but we consult rather what we hear than what we
feel, without examining, opposing, or discussing the things we fear;
so that we either stand still and tremble, or else directly run for
it, as those troops did, that, upon the raising of the dust, took a
flock of sheep for the enemy. When the body and mind are corrupted,
it is no wonder if all things prove intolerable; and not because they
are so in truth, but because we are dissolute and foolish: for we are
infatuated to such a degree, that, betwixt the common madness of men,
and that which falls under the care of the physician, there is but
this difference, the one labors of a disease, and the other of a false

The Stoics hold, that all those torments that commonly draw from us
groans and ejaculations, are in themselves trivial and contemptible.
But these high-flown expressions apart (how true soever) let us
discourse the point at the rate of ordinary men, and not make ourselves
miserable before our time; for the things we apprehend to be at hand
may possibly never come to pass. Some things trouble us more than they
should, other things sooner; and some things again disorder us that
ought not to trouble us at all; so that we either enlarge, or create,
or anticipate our disquiets. For the first part, let it rest as a
matter in controversy; for that which I account light, another perhaps
will judge insupportable! One man laughs under the lash, and another
whines for a fillip. How sad a calamity is poverty to one man, which to
another appears rather desirable than inconvenient? For the poor man,
who has nothing to lose, has nothing to fear: and he that would enjoy
himself to the satisfaction of his soul, must be either poor indeed,
or at least look as if he were so. Some people are extremely dejected
with sickness and pain; whereas Epicurus blessed his fate with his last
breath, in the acutest torments of the stone imaginable. And so for
banishment, which to one man is so grievous, and yet to another is no
more than a bare change of place: a thing that we do every day for our
health, pleasure, nay, and upon the account even of common business.

How terrible is death to one man, which to another appears the greatest
providence in nature, even toward all ages and conditions! It is the
wish of some, the relief of many, and the end of all. It sets the slave
at liberty, carries the banished man home, and places all mortals upon
the same level: insomuch, that life itself were a punishment without
it. When I see tyrants, tortures, violences, the prospect of death is a
consolation to me, and the only remedy against the injuries of life.

Nay, so great are our mistakes in the true estimate of things, that we
have hardly done any thing that we have not had reason to wish undone;
and we have found the things we feared to be more desirable than those
we coveted. Our very prayers have been more pernicious than the curses
of our enemies; and we must pray to have our former prayers forgiven.
Where is the wise man that wishes to himself the wishes of his mother,
nurse, or his tutor; the worst of enemies, with the intention of the
best of friends. We are undone if their prayers be heard; and it is our
duty to pray that they may not; for they are no other than well-meaning
execrations. They take evil for good, and one wish fights with another:
give me rather the contempt of all those things whereof they wish me
the greatest plenty. We are equally hurt by some that pray for us, and
by others that curse us: the one imprints in us a false fear, and the
other does us mischief by a mistake: so that it is no wonder if mankind
be miserable, when we are brought up from the very cradle under the
imprecations of our parents. We pray for trifles, without so much as
thinking of the greatest blessings; and we are not ashamed many times
to ask God for that which we should blush to own to our neighbor.

It is with us as with an innocent that my father had in his family; she
fell blind on a sudden, and nobody could persuade her she was blind.
“She could not endure the house,” she cried, “it was so dark,” and was
still calling to go abroad. That which we laughed at in her we find
to be true in ourselves, we are covetous and ambitious; but the world
shall never bring us to acknowledge it, and we impute it to the place:
nay, we are the worse of the two; for that blind fool called for a
guide, and we wander about without one. It is a hard matter to cure
those that will not believe they are sick. We are ashamed to admit a
master, and we are too old to learn. Vice still goes before virtue: so
that we have two works to do: we must cast off the one, and learn the
other. By one evil we make way to another, and only seek things to be
avoided, or those of which we are soon weary. That which seemed too
much when we wished for it, proves too little when we have it; and it
is not, as some imagine, that felicity is greedy, but it is little and
narrow, and cannot satisfy us. That which we take to be very high at a
distance, we find to be but low when we come at it. And the business
is, we do not understand the true state of things: we are deceived by
rumors; when we have gained the thing we aimed at, we find it to be
either ill or empty; or perchance less than we expect, or otherwise
perhaps great, but not good.



There is not anything that is necessary to us but we have it either
_cheap_ or _gratis_: and this is the provision that our heavenly
Father has made for us, whose bounty was never wanting to our needs.
It is true the belly craves and calls upon us, but then a small matter
contents it: a little bread and water is sufficient, and all the rest
is but superfluous. He that lives according to reason shall never be
poor, and he that governs his life by opinion shall never be rich:
for nature is limited, but fancy is boundless. As for meat, clothes,
and lodging, a little feeds the body, and as little covers it; so
that if mankind would only attend human nature, without gaping at
superfluities, a cook would be found as needless as a soldier: for we
may have necessaries upon very easy terms; whereas we put ourselves to
great pains for excesses. When we are cold, we may cover ourselves with
skins of beasts; and, against violent heats, we have natural grottoes;
or with a few osiers and a little clay we may defend ourselves against
all seasons. Providence has been kinder to us than to leave us to live
by our wits, and to stand in need of invention and arts.

It is only pride and curiosity that involve us in difficulties: if
nothing will serve a man but rich clothes and furniture, statues and
plate, a numerous train of servants, and the rarities of all nations,
it is not Fortune’s fault, but his own, that he is not satisfied: for
his desires are insatiable, and this is not a thirst, but a disease;
and if he were master of the whole world, he would be still a beggar.
It is the mind that makes us rich and happy, in what condition soever
we are; and money signifies no more to it than it does to the gods. If
the religion be sincere, no matter for the ornaments it is only luxury
and avarice that make poverty grievous to us; for it is a very small
matter that does our business; and when we have provided against cold,
hunger, and thirst, all the rest is but vanity and excess: and there
is no need of expense upon foreign delicacies, or the artifices of the
kitchen. What is he the worse for poverty that despises these things?
nay, is he not rather the better for it, because he is not able to go
to the price of them? for he is kept sound whether he will or not: and
that which a man _cannot_ do, looks many times as if he _would not_.

When I look back into the moderation of past ages, it makes me ashamed
to discourse, as if poverty had need of any consolation; for we are
now come to that degree of intemperance, that a fair patrimony is too
little for a meal. Homer had but one servant, Plato three, and Zeno
(the master of the masculine sect of Stoics) had none at all. The
daughters of Scipio had their portions out of the common treasury,
for their father left them not a penny: how happy were the husbands
that had the people of Rome for their father-in-law! Shall any man now
contemn poverty after these eminent examples, which are sufficient
not only to justify but to recommend it? Upon Diogenes’ only servant
running away from him, he was told where he was, and persuaded to fetch
him back again: “What,” says he, “can Manes live without Diogenes, and
not Diogenes without Manes?” and so let him go.

The piety and moderation of Scipio have made his memory more venerable
than his arms; and more yet after he left his country than while he
defended it: for matters were come to that pass, that either Scipio
must be injurious to Rome or Rome to Scipio. Coarse bread and water to
a temperate man is as good as a feast; and the very herbs of the field
yield a nourishment to man as well as to beasts. It was not by choice
meats and perfumes that our forefathers recommended themselves, but
in virtuous actions, and the sweat of honest, military, and of manly

While Nature lay in common, and all her benefits were promiscuously
enjoyed, what could be happier than the state of mankind, when people
lived without avarice or envy? What could be richer than when there
was not a poor man to be found in the world? So soon as this impartial
bounty of Providence came to be restrained by covetousness, and
that particulars appropriated to themselves that which was intended
for all, then did poverty creep into the world, when some men, by
desiring more than came to their share, lost their title to the rest;
a loss never to be repaired; for though we may come yet to get much,
we once had all. The fruits of the earth were in those days divided
among the inhabitants of it, without either want or excess. So long
as men contented themselves with their lot, there was no violence,
no engrossing or hiding of those benefits for particular advantages,
which were appointed for the community; but every man had as much
care for his neighbor as for himself. No arms or bloodshed, no war,
but with wild beasts: but under the protection of a wood or a cave,
they spent their days without cares, and their nights without groans;
their innocence was their security and their protection. There were
as yet no beds of state, no ornaments, of pearl or embroidery, nor
any of those remorses that attend them; but the heavens were their
canopy, and the glories of them their spectacle. The motions of the
orbs, the courses of the stars, and the wonderful order of Providence,
was their contemplation. There was no fear of the house falling, or
the rustling of a rat behind the arras; they had no palaces then like
cities; but they had open air, and breathing room, crystal fountains,
refreshing shades, the meadows dressed up in their native beauty, and
such cottages as were according to nature, and wherein they lived
contentedly, without fear either of losing or of falling. These people
lived without either solitude or fraud; and yet I must call them rather
happy than wise.

That men were generally better before they were corrupted than after,
I make no doubt; and I am apt to believe that they were both stronger
and hardier too but their wits were not yet come to maturity; for
Nature does not give virtue; and it is a kind of art to become good.
They had not as yet torn up the bowels of the earth for gold, silver,
or precious stones; and so far were they from killing any man, as we
do, for a spectacle, that they were not as yet come to it, either in
fear or anger; nay, they spared the very fishes. But, after all this,
they were innocent because they were ignorant: and there is a great
difference betwixt not knowing how to offend and not being willing to
do it. They had, in that rude life, certain images and resemblances of
virtue, but yet they fell short of virtue itself, which comes only by
institution, learning, and study, as it is perfected by practice. It is
indeed the end for which we were born, but yet it did not come into the
world with us; and in the best of men, before they are instructed, we
find rather the matter and the seeds of virtue than the virtue itself.
It is the wonderful benignity of Nature that has laid open to us all
things that may do us good, and only hid those things from us that may
hurt us; as if she durst not trust us with gold and silver, or with
iron, which is the instrument of war and contention, for the other.
It is we ourselves that have drawn out of the earth both the _causes_
and the _instruments_ of our dangers: and we are so vain as to set
the highest esteem upon those things to which Nature has assigned the
lowest place. What can be more coarse and rude in the mine than these
precious metals, or more slavish and dirty than the people that dig and
work them? and yet they defile our minds more than our bodies, and make
the possessor fouler than the artificer of them. Rich men, in fine, are
only the greater slaves; both the one and the other want a great deal.

Happy is that man that eats only for hunger, and drinks only for
thirst; that stands upon his own legs, and lives by reason, not by
example; and provides for use and necessity, not for ostentation
and pomp! Let us curb our appetites, encourage virtue, and rather
be beholden to ourselves for riches than to Fortune, who when a man
draws himself into a narrow compass, has the least mark at him. Let
my bed be plain and clean, and my clothes so too: my meat without
much expense, or many waiters, and neither a burden to my purse nor
to my body, not to go out the same way it came in. That which is too
little for luxury, is abundantly enough for nature. The end of eating
and drinking is satiety; now, what matters it though one eats and
drinks more, and another less, so long as the one is not a-hungry, nor
the other athirst? Epicurus, who limits pleasure to nature, as the
Stoics do virtue, is undoubtedly in the right; and those that cite
him to authorize their voluptuousness do exceedingly mistake him, and
only seek a good authority for an evil cause: for their pleasures of
sloth, gluttony, and lust, have no affinity at all with his precepts
or meaning. It is true, that at first sight his philosophy seems
effeminate; but he that looks nearer him will find him to be a very
brave man only in a womanish dress.

It is a common objection, I know, that these philosophers do not
live at the rate they talk; fer they can flatter their superiors,
gather estates, and be as much concerned at the loss of fortune, or
of friends, as other people: as sensible of reproaches, as luxurious
in their eating and drinking, their furniture, their houses; as
magnificent in their plate, servants, and officers; as profuse and
curious in their gardens, etc. Well! and what of all this, or if it
were twenty times more? It is some degree of virtue for a man to
condemn himself; and if he cannot come up to the best, to be yet
better than the worst; and if he cannot wholly subdue his appetites,
however to check and diminish them. If I do not live as I preach, take
notice that I do not speak of myself, but of virtue, nor am I so much
offended with other men’s vices as with my own. All this was objected
to Plato, Epicurus, Zeno; nor is any virtue so sacred as to escape
malevolence. The Cynic Demetrius was a great instance of severity and
mortification; and one that imposed upon himself neither to possess
anything, nor so much as to ask it: and yet he had this _scorn_ put
upon him, that his profession was _poverty_, not _virtue_. Plato is
blamed for _asking_ money; Aristotle for _receiving_ it; Democritus
for _neglecting_ it; Epicurus for _consuming_ it. How happy were we if
we could but come to imitate these men’s vices; for if we knew our own
condition, we should find work enough at home. But we are like people
that are making merry at a play or a tavern when their own houses are
on fire, and yet they know nothing of it. Nay, Cato himself was said to
be a drunkard; but _drunkenness_ itself shall sooner be proved to be
no crime than Cato dishonest. They that demolish temples, and overturn
altars, show their good-will, though they can do the gods no hurt, and
so it fares with those that invade the reputation of great men.

If the professors of virtue be as the world calls them, avaricious,
libidinous, ambitious—what are they then that have a detestation for
the very name of it: but malicious natures do not want wit to abuse
honester men than themselves. It is the practice of the multitude to
bark at eminent men as little dogs do at strangers; for they look upon
other men’s virtues as the upbraiding of their own wickedness. We
should do well to commend those that are good, if not, let us pass them
over; but, however, let us spare ourselves: for beside the blaspheming
of virtue, our rage is to no purpose. But to return now to my text.

We are ready enough to limit others but loth to put bonds and
restraints upon ourselves, though we know that many times a greater
evil is cured by a less; and the mind that will not be brought to
virtue by precepts, comes to it frequently by necessity. Let us try a
little to eat upon a joint stool, to serve ourselves, to live within
compass, and accommodate our clothes to the end they were made for.
Occasional experiments of our moderation give us the best proof of
our firmness and virtue. A well-governed appetite is a great part of
liberty, and it is a blessed lot, that since no man can have all things
that he would have, we may all of us forbear desiring what we have not.
It is the office of temperance to overrule us in our pleasures; some
she rejects, others she qualifies and keeps within bounds. Oh! the
delights of rest when a man comes to be weary, and of meat when he is
heartily hungry.

I have learned (says our author) by one journey how many things we have
that are superfluous, and how easily they might be spared, for when we
are without them upon necessity, we do not so much as feel the want of
them. This is the second blessed day (says he) that my friend and I
have travelled together: one wagon carries ourselves and our servants;
my mattress lies upon the ground and I upon that: our diet answerable
to our lodging, and never without our figs and our table-books. The
muleteer without shoes, and the mules only prove themselves to be alive
by their walking. In this equipage, I am not willing, I perceive,
to own myself, but as often as we happen into better company, I
presently fall a-blushing, which shows that I am not yet confirmed in
those things which I approve and commend. I am not yet come to own my
frugality, for he that is ashamed to be seen in a mean condition would
be proud of a splendid one. I value myself upon what passengers think
of me, and tacitly renounce my principles, whereas I should rather
lift up my voice to be heard by mankind, and tell them “You are all
mad—your minds are set upon superfluities and you value no man for his

I came one night weary home, and threw myself upon the bed with this
consideration about me: “There is nothing ill that is well taken.” My
baker tells me he has no bread; but, says he, I may get some of your
tenants, though I fear it is not good. No matter, said I, for I will
stay until it be better—that is to say until my stomach will be glad
of worse. It is discretion sometimes to practice temperance and wont
ourselves to a little, for there are many difficulties both of time and
place that may force us upon it.

When we come to the matter of patrimony, how strictly do we examine
what every man is worth before we will trust him with a penny! “Such a
man,” we cry, “has a great estate, but it is shrewdly encumbered—a very
fair house, but it was built with borrowed money—a numerous family,
but he does not keep touch with his creditors—if his debts were paid
he would not be worth a groat.” Why do we not take the same course in
other things, and examine what every man is worth? It is not enough to
have a long train of attendants, vast possessions, or an incredible
treasure in money and jewels—a man may be poor for all this. There
is only this difference at best—one man borrows of the _usurer_, and
the other of _fortune_. What signifies the carving or gilding of the
chariot; is the master ever the better of it?

We cannot close up this chapter with a more generous instance of
moderation than that of Fabricius. Pyrrhus tempted him with a sum of
money to betray his country, and Pyrrhus’s physician offered Fabricius,
for a sum of money, to poison his _master_; but he was too brave
either to be overcome by gold, or to be overcome by poison, so that he
refused the money, and advised Pyrrhus to have a care of treachery:
and this too in the heat of a licentious war. Fabricius valued himself
upon his poverty, and was as much above the thought of riches as of
poison. “Live Pyrrhus,” says he “by my friendship; and turn that to
thy satisfaction which was before thy trouble:” that is to say that
Fabricius could not be corrupted.



The whole duty of man may be reduced to the two points of _abstinence_
and _patience_; _temperance_ in _prosperity_, and _courage_ in
_adversity_. We have already treated of the former: and the other
follows now in course.

Epicurus will have it, that a wise man will _bear all injuries_; but
the Stoics will not allow those things to be _injuries_ which Epicurus
calls so. Now, betwixt _these two_, there is the same difference that
we find betwixt two _gladiators_; the one receives wounds, but yet
maintains his ground, the other tells the people, when he is in blood,
that _it is but a scratch_, and will not suffer anybody to part them.
An _injury_ cannot be received, but it must be _done_; but it may be
_done_ and yet not _received_; as a man may be in the water, and not
swim, but if he swims, it is presumed that he is in the water. Or if
a blow or a shot be levelled at us, it may so happen that a man may
miss his aim, or some accident interpose that may divert the mischief.
That which is hurt is passive, and inferior to that which hurts it.
But you will say, that Socrates was condemned and put to death, and
so received an injury; but I answer, that the tyrants _did_ him an
injury, and yet he _received_ none. He that steals anything from me
and hides it in my own house, though I have not lost it, yet he has
stolen it. He that lies with his own wife, and takes her for another
woman, though the woman be honest, the man is an adulterer. Suppose a
man gives me a draught of poison and it proves not strong enough to
kill me, his guilt is nevertheless for the disappointment. He that
makes a pass at me is as much a murderer, though I put it by, as if he
had struck me to the heart. It is the intention, not the effect, that
makes the wickedness. He is a thief that has the will of killing and
slaying, before his hand is dipt in blood; as it is sacrilege, the very
intention of laying violent hands upon holy things. If a philosopher
be exposed to torments, the ax over his head, his body wounded, his
guts in his hands, I will allow him to groan; for virtue itself cannot
divest him of the nature of a man; but if his mind stand firm, he has
discharged his part. A great mind enables a man to maintain his station
with honor; so that he only makes use of what he meets in his way, as a
pilgrim that would fain be at his journey’s end.

It is the excellency of a great mind to _ask_ nothing, and to _want_
nothing; and to say, “I will have nothing to do with fortune, that
repulses Cato, and prefers Vatinius.” He that quits his hold,
and accounts anything good that is not honest, runs gaping after
casualties, spends his days in anxiety and vain expectation, that
man is miserable. And yet it is hard, you will say, to be banished
or cast into prison: nay, what if it were to be burnt, or any other
way destroyed? We have examples in all ages and cases, of great men
that have triumphed over all misfortunes. Metellus suffered exile
resolutely, Rutilius cheerfully; Socrates disputed in the dungeon; and
though he might have made his escape, refused it; to show the world how
easy a thing it was to subdue the two great terrors of mankind, _death_
and a _jail_. Or what shall we say of Mucius Scevola, a man only of
a military courage, and without the help either of philosophy or
letters? who, when he found that he had killed the Secretary instead of
Porsenna, (the prince,) burnt his right hand to ashes for the mistake;
and held his arm in the flame until it was taken away by his very
enemies. Porsenna did more easily pardon Mucius for his intent to kill
him than Mucius forgave _himself_ for missing of his aim. He might have
a luckier thing, but never a braver.

Did not Cato, in the last night of his life, take Plato to bed with
him, with his sword at his bed’s head; the one that he might have death
at his will, the other, that he might have it in his power; being
resolved that no man should be able to say, either that he killed or
that he saved Cato? So soon as he had composed his thoughts, he took
his sword; “Fortune,” says he, “I have hitherto fought for my country’s
liberty, and for my own, and only that I might live free among freemen;
but the cause is now lost, and Cato safe.” With that word he cast
himself upon his sword; and after the physicians that pressed in upon
him had bound up his wound, he tore it up again, and expired with the
same greatness of soul that he lived. But these are the examples, you
will say, of men famous in their generations.

Let us but consult history, and we shall find, even in the most
effeminate of nations, and the most dissolute of times, men of all
degrees, ages, and fortunes, nay, even women themselves, that have
overcome the fear of death: which, in truth, is so little to be
feared, that duly considered, it is one of the greatest benefits of
nature. It was as great an honor for Cato, when his party was broken,
that he himself stood his ground, as it would have been if he had
carried the day, and settled an universal peace: for, it is an equal
prudence, to make the best of a bad game, and to manage a good one. The
day that he was _repulsed_, he _played_, and the night that he _killed_
himself, he _read_, as valuing the loss of his life, and the missing of
an office at the same rate. People, I know, are apt to pronounce upon
other men’s infirmities by the measure of their own, and to think it
impossible that a man should be content to be burnt, wounded, killed,
or shackled, though in some cases he may. It is only for a great mind
to judge of great things; for otherwise, that which is our infirmity
will seem to be another body’s, as a straight stick in the water
appears to be crooked: he that yields, draws upon his own head his
own ruin; for we are sure to get the better of Fortune, if we do but
struggle with her. Fencers and wrestlers, we see what blows and bruises
they endure, not only for honor, but for exercise. If we turn our backs
once, we are routed and pursued; that man only is happy that draws
good out of evil, that stands fast in his judgment, and unmoved by any
external violence; or however, so little moved, that the keenest arrow
in the quiver of Fortune is but as the prick of a needle to him rather
than a wound; and all her other weapons fall upon him only as hail upon
the roof of a house, that crackles and skips off again, without any
damage to the inhabitant.

A generous and clear-sighted young man will take it for a happiness to
encounter ill fortune. It is nothing for a man to hold up his head in
a calm; but to maintain his post when all others have quitted their
ground, and there to stand upright where other men are beaten down,
this is divine and praiseworthy. What ill is there in torments, or in
those things which we commonly account grievous crosses? The great evil
is the want of courage, the bowing and submitting to them, which can
never happen to a wise man; for he stands upright under any weight;
nothing that is to be borne displeases him; he knows his strength, and
whatsoever may be any man’s lot, he never complains of, if it be his
own. Nature, he says, deceives nobody; she does not tell us whether
our children shall be fair or foul, wise or foolish, good subjects or
traitors, nor whether our fortune shall be good or bad. We must not
judge of a man by his ornaments, but strip him of all the advantages
and the impostures of Fortune, nay, of his very body too, and look into
his mind. If he can see a naked sword at his eyes without so much as
winking; if he make it a thing indifferent to him whether his life go
out at his throat or at his mouth; if he can hear himself sentenced to
torments or exiles, and under the very hand of the executioner, says
thus to himself, “All this I am provided for, and it is no more than
a man that is to suffer the fate of humanity.” This is the temper of
mind that speaks a man happy; and without this, all the confluences
of external comforts signify no more than the personating of a king
upon the stage; when the curtain is drawn, we are players again. Not
that I pretend to exempt a wise man out of a number of men, as if he
had no sense of pain; but I reckon him as compounded of body and soul;
the body is irrational, and may be galled, burnt, tortured; but the
rational part is fearless, invincible, and not to be shaken. This
it is that I reckon upon as the supreme good of man; which until it
be perfected, is but an unsteady agitation of thought, and in the
perfection an immovable stability. It is not in our contentions with
Fortune as in those of the theatre, where we may throw down our arms,
and pray for quarter; but here we must die firm and resolute. There
needs no encouragement to those things which we are inclined to by
a natural instinct, as the preservation of ourselves with ease and
pleasure; but if it comes to the trial of our faith by torments, or of
our courage by wounds, these are difficulties that we must be armed
against by philosophy and precept; and yet all this is no more than
what we were born to, and no matter of wonder at all; so that a wise
man prepares himself for it, as expecting whatsoever _may be will be_.
My body is frail, and liable not only to the impressions of violence,
but to afflictions also, that naturally succeed our pleasures. Full
meals bring crudities; whoring and drinking make the hands to shake
and the knees to tremble. It is only the surprise and newness of the
thing which makes that misfortune terrible, which, by premeditation,
might be made easy to us: for that which some people make light by
sufferance, others do by foresight. Whatsoever is necessary, we must
bear patiently. It is no new thing to die, no new thing to mourn, and
no new thing to be merry again. Must I be _poor_? I shall have company:
in _banishment_? I will think myself born there. If I _die_, I shall be
no more sick; and it is a thing I cannot do but once.

Let us never wonder at anything we are born to; for no man has reason
to complain, where we are all in the same condition. He that escapes
might have suffered; and it is but equal to submit to the law of
mortality. We must undergo the colds of winter, the heats of summer;
the distempers of the air, and the diseases of the body. A wild beast
meets us in one place, and a man that is more brutal in another; we
are here assaulted by fire, there by water. Demetrius was reserved by
Providence for the age he lived in, to show, that neither the times
could corrupt him, nor he reform the people. He was a man of an exact
judgment, steady to his purpose, and of a strong eloquence; not finical
in his words, but his sense was masculine and vehement. He was so
qualified in his life and discourse, that he served both for an example
and a reproach. If fortune should have offered that man the government
and possession of the whole world, upon condition not to lay it down
again, I dare say he would have refused it: and thus have expostulated
the matter with you: “Why should you tempt a freeman to put his
shoulder under a burden; or an honest man to pollute himself with the
dregs of mankind? Why do you offer me the spoils of princes, and of
nations, and the price not only of your blood, but of your souls?”

It is the part of a great mind to be temperate in prosperity,
resolute in adversity; to despise what the vulgar admire, and to
prefer a mediocrity to an excess. Was not Socrates oppressed with
poverty, labor, nay, the worst of wars in his own family, a fierce
and turbulent woman for his wife? were not his children indocile, and
like their mother? After seven-and-twenty years spent in arms, he
fell under a slavery to the _thirty tyrants_, and most of them his
bitter enemies: he came at last to be sentenced as “a violater of
religion, a corrupter of youth, and a common enemy to God and man.”
After this he was imprisoned, and put to death by poison, which was
all so far from working upon his mind, that it never so much as altered
his countenance. We are to bear ill accidents as unkind seasons,
distempers, or diseases; and why may we not reckon the actions of
wicked men even among those accidents; their deliberations are not
counsels but frauds, snares, and inordinate motions of the mind; and
they are never without a thousand pretences and occasions of doing a
man mischief. They have their informers, their knights of the post;
they can make an interest with powerful men, and one may be robbed
as well upon the bench as upon the highway. They lie in wait for
advantages, and live in perpetual agitation betwixt hope and fear;
whereas he that is truly composed will stand all shocks, either of
violences, flatteries, or menaces, without perturbation. It is an
inward fear that makes us curious after what we hear abroad.

It is an error to attribute either _good_ or _ill_ to _Fortune_; but
the _matter_ of it we may; and we ourselves are the occasion of it,
being in effect the artificers of our own happiness or misery: for the
mind is above fortune; if that be evil, it makes everything else so
too; but if it be right and sincere, it corrects what is wrong, and
mollifies what is hard, with modesty and courage. There is a great
difference among those that the world calls wise men. Some take up
private resolutions of opposing Fortune, but they cannot go through
with them; for they are either dazzled with splendor on the one hand,
or affrighted with terrors on the other; but there are others that will
close and grapple with Fortune, and still come off victorious.

Mucius overcame the fire; Regulus, the gibbet; Socrates, poison;
Rutilius, banishment; Cato, death; Fabricius, riches; Tubero, poverty;
and Sextius, honors. But there are some again so delicate, that they
cannot so much as bear a scandalous report; which is the same thing
as if a man should quarrel for being jostled in a crowd, or dashed as
he walks in the streets. He that has a great way to go must expect a
slip, to stumble, and to be tired. To the luxurious man frugality is a
punishment; labor and industry to the sluggard; nay, study itself is a
torment to him; not that these things are hard to us by nature, but we
ourselves are vain and irresolute; nay, we wonder many of us, how any
man can live without wine, or endure to rise so early in a morning.

A brave man must expect to be tossed; for he is to steer his course
in the teeth of Fortune, and to work against wind and weather. In the
suffering of torments, though there appears but one virtue, a man
exercises many. That which is most eminent is patience, (which is but a
branch of fortitude.) But there is prudence also in the choice of the
action, and in the bearing what we cannot avoid; and there is constancy
in bearing it resolutely: and there is the same concurrence also of
several virtues in other generous undertakings.

When Leonidas was to carry his 300 men into the Straits of Thermopylæ,
to put a stop to Xerxes’s huge army: “Come, fellow-soldiers,” says he,
“eat your dinners here as if you were to sup in another world.” And
they answered his resolution. How plain and imperious was that short
speech of Cæditius to his men upon a desperate action! and how glorious
a mixture was there in it both of bravery and prudence! “Soldiers,”
says he, “it is necessary for us to go, but it is not necessary for us
to return.” This brief and pertinent harangue was worth ten thousand
of the frivolous cavils and distinctions of the schools, which rather
break the mind than fortify it; and when it is once perplexed and
pricked with difficulties and scruples, there they leave it. Our
passions are numerous and strong, and not to be mastered with quirks
and tricks, as if a man should undertake to defend the cause of God
and man with a bulrush. It was a remarkable piece of honor and policy
together, that action of Cæsar’s upon the taking of Pompey’s cabinet at
the battle of Pharsalia: it is probable that the letters in it might
have discovered who were his friends, and who his enemies; and yet he
burnt it without so much as opening it; esteeming it the noblest way
of pardoning, to keep himself ignorant both of the offender and of
the offense. It was a brave presence of mind also in Alexander, who,
upon advice that his physician Philip intended to poison him, took
the letter of advice in one hand and the cup in the other; delivering
Philip the letter to read while he himself drank the potion.

Some are of opinion that death gives a man courage to support pain,
and that pain fortifies a man against death: but I say rather, that a
wise man depends upon himself against both, and that he does not either
suffer with patience, in hopes of death, or die willingly, because he
is weary of life; but he bears the one, and waits for the other, and
carries a divine mind through all the accidents of human life. He looks
upon faith and honesty as the most sacred good of mankind, and neither
to be forced by necessity nor corrupted by reward; kill, burn, tear him
in pieces, he will be true to his trust; and the more any man labors
to make him discover a secret, the deeper will he hide it. Resolution
is the inexpugnable defence of human weakness, and it is a wonderful
Providence that attends it.

Horatius Cocles opposed his single body to the whole army until the
bridge was cut down behind him and then leaped into the river with his
sword in his hand and came off safe to his party. There was a fellow
questioned about a plot upon the life of a tyrant, and put to the
torture to declare his confederates: he named, by one and one, all the
tyrant’s friends that were about him: and still as they were named,
they were put to death: the tyrant asked him at last if there were any
more. “Yes,” says he, “yourself were in the plot; and now you have
never another friend left in the world:” whereupon the tyrant cut the
throats of his own guards. “He is the happy man that is the master of
himself, and triumphs over the fear of death, which has overcome the
conquerors of the world.”



The comfort of life depends upon conversation. Good offices, and
concord, and human society, is like the working of an arch of stone;
all would fall to the ground if one piece did not support another.
Above all things let us have a tenderness for blood; and it is yet too
little not to hurt, unless we profit one another. We are to relieve
the distressed; to put the wanderer into his way; and to divide our
bread with the hungry: which is but the doing of good to ourselves;
for we are only several members of one great body. Nay, we are all of
a consanguinity; formed of the same materials, and designed to the
same end; this obliges us to a mutual tenderness and converse; and
the other, to live with a regard to equity and justice. The love of
society is natural; but the choice of our company is matter of virtue
and prudence. Noble examples stir us up to noble actions; and the
very history of large and public souls, inspires a man with generous
thoughts. It makes a man long to be in action, and doing something that
the world may be the better for; as protecting the weak, delivering
the oppressed, punishing the insolent. It is a great blessing the very
conscience of giving a good example; beside, that it is the greatest
obligation any man can lay upon the age he lives in.

He that converses with the proud shall be puffed up; a lustful
acquaintance makes a man lascivious; and the way to secure a man from
wickedness is to withdraw from the examples of it. It is too much to
have them _near_ us, but more to have them _within_ us—ill examples,
pleasure and ease, are, no doubt of it, great corrupters of manners.

A rocky ground hardens the horse’s hoof; the mountaineer makes the best
soldier; the miner makes the best pioneer, and severity of discipline
fortifies the mind. In all excesses and extremities of good and of ill
fortune, let us have recourse to great examples that have contemned
both. “These are the best instructors that teach in their lives, and
prove their words by their actions.”

As an ill air may endanger a good constitution, so may a place of ill
example endanger a good man, nay, there are some places that have a
kind of privilege to be licentious, and where luxury and dissolution
of manners seem to be lawful; for great examples give both authority
and excuse to wickedness. Those places are to be avoided as dangerous
to our manners. Hannibal himself was unmanned by the looseness of
Campania, and though a conqueror by his arms, he was overcome by his
pleasures. I would as soon live among butchers as among cooks—not but a
man may be temperate in any place—but to see drunken men staggering up
and down everywhere, and only the spectacle of lust, luxury and excess
before our eyes, it is not safe to expose ourselves to the temptation.
If the victorious Hannibal himself could not resist it, what shall
become of us then that are subdued, and give ground to our lusts
already? He that has to do with an enemy in his breast, has a harder
task upon him than he that is to encounter one in the field; his hazard
is greater if he loses ground, and his duty is perpetual, for he has no
place or time for rest. If I give way to pleasure, I must also yield to
grief, to poverty, to labor, ambition, anger, until I am torn to pieces
by my misfortunes and lusts. But against all this philosophy propounds
a liberty, that is to say, a liberty from the service of accidents and
fortune. There is not anything that does more mischief to mankind than
mercenary masters and philosophy, that do not live as they teach—they
give a scandal to virtue. How can any man expect that a ship should
steer a fortunate course, when the pilot lies wallowing in his own
vomit? It is a usual thing first to learn to do ill ourselves, and then
to instruct others to do so: but that man must needs be very wicked
that has gathered into himself the wickedness of other people.

The best conversation is with the philosophers—that is to say, with
such of them as teach us matter, not words—that preach to us things
necessary and keep us to the practice of them. There can be no peace in
human life without the contempt of all events. There is nothing that
either puts better thoughts into a man, or sooner sets him right that
is out of the way, than a good companion, for the example has the force
of a precept, and touches the heart with an affection to goodness; and
not only the frequent hearing and seeing of a wise man delights us, but
the very encounter of him suggests profitable contemplation such as a
man finds himself moved with when he goes into a holy place. I will
take more care with _whom_ I eat and drink than _what_, for without a
friend the table is a manger.

Writing does well, but personal discourse and conversation does better;
for men give great credit to their ears, and take stronger impressions
from example than precept. Cleanthes had never hit Zeno so to the life
if he had not been in with him at all his privacies, if he had not
watched and observed him whether or not he practised as he taught.
Plato got more from Socrates’ _manners_ than from his _words_, and it
was not the _school_, but the company and _familiarity_ of Epicurus
that made Metrodorus, Hermachus and Polyænus so famous.

Now, though it be by instinct that we covet society, and avoid
solitude, we should yet take this along with us, that the more
acquaintance the more danger: nay, there is not one man of a hundred
that is to be trusted with himself. If company cannot alter us, it may
interrupt us, and he that so much as stops upon the way loses a great
deal of a short life, which we yet make shorter by our inconstancy. If
an enemy were at our heels, what haste should we make!—but death is
so, and yet we never mind it. There is no venturing of tender and easy
natures among the people, for it is odds that they will go over to the
major party. It would, perhaps, shake the constancy of Socrates, Cato,
Lælius, or any of us all, even when our resolutions are at the height,
to stand the shock of vice that presses upon us with a kind of public

It is a world of mischief that may be done by one single example of
avarice or luxury. One voluptuous palate makes a great many. A wealthy
neighbor stirs up envy, and a fleering companion moves ill-nature
wherever he comes. What will become of those people then that expose
themselves to a popular violence? which is ill both ways; either if
they comply with the wicked, because they are many, or quarrel with
the multitude because they are not principled alike. The best way is
to retire, and associate only with those that may be the better for
us, and we for them. These respects are mutual; for while we teach, we
learn. To deal freely, I dare not trust myself in the hands of much
company: I never go abroad that I come home again the same man I went
out. Something or other that I had put in order is discomposed; some
passion that I had subdued gets head again; and it is just with our
minds as it is after a long indisposition with our bodies; we are grown
so tender, that the least breath of air exposes us to a relapse. And it
is no wonder if a numerous conversation be dangerous, where there is
scarce any single man but by his discourse, example, or behavior, does
either recommend to us, or imprint in us, or, by a kind of contagion,
insensibly infect us with one vice or other; and the more people
the greater is the peril. Especially let us have a care of public
spectacles where wickedness insinuates itself with pleasure; and, above
all others, let us avoid spectacles of cruelty and blood; and have
nothing to do with those that are perpetually whining and complaining;
there may be faith and kindness there, but no peace. People that are
either sad or fearful, we do commonly, for their own sakes, set a
guard upon them, for fear they should make an ill use of being alone;
especially the imprudent, who are still contriving of mischief, either
for others or for themselves, in cherishing their lusts, or forming
their designs. So much for the choice of a _companion_; we shall now
proceed to that of a _friend_.



Of all felicities, the most charming is that of a _firm_ and _gentle
friendship_. It sweetens all our cares, dispels our sorrows, and
counsels us in all extremities. Nay, if there were no other comfort in
it than the bare exercise of so generous a virtue, even for that single
reason, a man would not be without it. Beside, that it is a sovereign
antidote against all calamities, even against the fear of death itself.

But we are not to number our friends by the _visits_ that are made us;
and to confound the decencies of _ceremony_ and _commerce_ with the
offices of _united affections_. Caius Gracchus, and after him Livius
Drusus, were the men that introduced among the Romans the fashion of
separating their visitants; some were taken into their _closet,_ others
were only admitted into the _antechamber_: and some, again, were fain
to wait in the _hall_ perhaps, or in the _court_. So that they had
their _first_, their _second,_ and their _third_ rate friends; but none
of them true: only they are called so in course, as we salute strangers
with some title or other of respect at a venture. There is no depending
upon those men that only take their compliment in their turn, and
rather slip through the door than enter at it. He will find himself in
a great mistake, that either seeks for a friend in a palace, or tries
him at a feast.

The great difficulty rests in the choice of him; that is to say, in the
first place, let him be virtuous, for vice is contagious, and there
is no trusting the sound and the sick together; and he ought to be a
wise man too, if a body knew where to find him; but in this case, he
that is least ill is best, and the highest degree of human prudence is
only the most venial folly. That friendship where men’s affections are
cemented by an equal and by a common love of goodness, it is not either
hope or fear, or any private interest, that can ever dissolve it: but
we carry it with us to our graves, and lay down our lives for it with
satisfaction. Paulina’s good and mine (says our author) were so wrapped
up together, that in consulting her comfort I provided for my own;
and when I could not prevail upon her to take less care for me, she
prevailed upon me to take more care for myself.

Some people make it a question, whether is the greatest delight, the
enjoying of an old friendship, or the acquiring of a new one? but it
is in the preparing of a friendship, and in the possession of it,
as it is with the husbandman in sowing and reaping; his delight is
the hope of his labor in the one case, and the fruit of it in the
other. My conversation lies among my books, but yet in the letters
of a friend, methinks I have his company; and when I answer them, I
do not only write, but speak: and, in effect, a friend is an eye,
a heart, a tongue, a hand, at all distances. When friends see one
another personally, they do not see one another as they do when they
are divided, where the meditation dignifies the prospect; but they are
effectually in a great measure absent even when they are present.
Consider their nights apart, their private studies, their separate
employments, and necessary visits; and they are almost as much together
divided as present. True friends are the whole world to one another;
and he that is a friend to himself is also a friend to mankind. Even
in my very studies, the greatest delight I take in what I learn is
the teaching of it to others; for there is no relish, methinks, in
the possession of anything without a partner; nay, if wisdom itself
were offered me upon condition only of keeping it to myself, I should
undoubtedly refuse it.

Lucilius tells me, that he was written to by a friend, but cautions
me withal not to say anything to him of the affair in question; for
he himself stands upon the same guard. What is this but to affirm and
to deny the same thing in the same breath, in calling a man a friend,
whom we dare not trust as our own soul? For there must be no reserves
in friendship: as much deliberation as you please before the league
is struck, but no doubtings or jealousies after. It is a preposterous
weakness to love a man before we know him, and not to care for him
after. It requires time to consider of a friendship, but the resolution
once taken, entitles him to my very heart. I look upon my thoughts to
be as safe in his breast as in my own: I shall, without any scruple,
make him the confidant of my most secret cares and counsels.

It goes a great way toward the making of a man faithful, to let him
understand that you think him so: and he that does but so much as
suspect that I will deceive him gives me a kind of right to cozen him.
When I am with my friend, methinks I am alone, and as much at liberty
to speak anything as to think it, and as our hearts are one, so must be
our interest and convenience; for friendship lays all things in common,
and nothing can be good to the one that is ill to the other. I do not
speak of such a community as to destroy one another’s propriety; but as
the father and the mother have two children, not one apiece, but each
of them two.

But let us have a care, above all things, that our kindness be
rightfully founded; for where there is any other invitation to
friendship than the friendship itself, that friendship will be bought
and sold. He derogates upon the majesty of it that makes it only
dependent upon good fortune. It is a narrow consideration for a man
to please himself in the thought of a friend, “because,” says he, “I
shall have one to help me when I am sick, in prison, or in want.” A
brave man should rather take delight in the contemplation of doing
the same offices for another. He that loves a man for his own sake is
in an error. A friendship of interest cannot last any longer than the
interest itself, and this is the reason that men in prosperity are so
much followed, and when a man goes down the wind, nobody comes near him.

Temporary friends will never stand the test. One man is forsaken
for fear of profit, another is betrayed. It is a negotiation, not a
friendship, that has an eye to advantages; only, through the corruption
of times, that which was formerly a friendship is now become a design
upon a booty: alter your testament, and you lose your friend. But my
end of friendship is to have one dearer to me than myself, and for
the saving of whose life I would cheerfully lay down my own; taking
this along with me, that only wise men can be friends, others are but
companions; and that there is a great difference also betwixt love and
friendship; the one may sometimes do us hurt, the other always does us
good, for the one friend is hopeful to another in all cases, as well in
prosperity as in affliction. We receive comfort, even at a distance,
from those we love, but then it is light and faint; whereas, presence
and conversation touch us to the quick, especially if we find the man
we love to be such a person as we wish.

It is usual with princes to reproach the living by commending the dead,
and to praise those people for speaking truth from whom there is no
longer any danger of hearing it. This is Augustus’s case: he was forced
to banish his daughter Julia for her common and prostituted impudence;
and still upon fresh informations, he was often heard to say, “If
Agrippa or Mecenas had been now alive, this would never have been.” But
yet where the fault lay may be a question; for perchance it was his
own, that had rather complain for the want of them than seek for others
as good. The Roman losses by war and by fire, Augustus could quickly
supply and repair; but for the loss of two friends he lamented his
whole life after.

Xerxes, (a vain and a foolish prince) when he made war upon Greece, one
told him, “It would never come to a battle”;another, “That he would
find only empty cities and countries, for they would not so much as
stand the very fame of his coming;” others soothed him in the opinion
of his _prodigious numbers_; and they all concurred to puff him up to
his destruction; only Damaratus advised him not to depend too much upon
his numbers, for he would rather find them a burden to him than an
advantage: and that three hundred men in the straits of the mountains
would be sufficient to give a check to his whole army; and that such an
accident would undoubtedly turn his vast numbers to his confusion. It
fell out afterward as he foretold, and he had thanks for his fidelity.
A miserable prince, that among so many thousand subjects had but one
servant to tell him the truth!



In the distribution of human life, we find that a great part of it
passes away in _evil doing_; a greater yet in doing just _nothing at
all_: and effectually the whole in doing things _beside our business_.
Some hours we bestow upon ceremony and servile attendances; some upon
our pleasures, and the remainder runs at waste. What a deal of time
is it that we spend in hopes and fears, love and revenge, in balls,
treats, making of interests, suing for offices, soliciting of causes,
and slavish flatteries! The shortness of life, I know, is the common
complaint both of fools and philosophers; as if the time we have were
not sufficient for our duties. But it is with our lives as with our
estates, a good husband makes a little go a great way; whereas, let
the revenue of a prince fall into the hands of a prodigal, it is gone
in a moment. So that the time allotted us, if it were well employed,
were abundantly enough to answer all the ends and purposes of mankind.
But we squander it away in avarice, drink, sleep, luxury, ambition,
fawning addresses, envy, rambling, voyages, impertinent studies,
change of counsels, and the like; and when our portion is spent, we
find the want of it, though we gave no heed to it in the passage:
insomuch, that we have rather _made_ our life short than _found_ it
so. You shall have some people perpetually playing with their fingers,
whistling, humming, and talking to themselves; and others consume their
days in the composing, hearing, or reciting of songs and lampoons. How
many precious morning hours do we spend in consultation with barbers,
tailors, and tire-women, patching and painting betwixt the comb and
the glass! A council must be called upon every hair we cut; and one
curl amiss is as much as a body’s life is worth. The truth is, we are
more solicitous about our dress than our manners, and about the order
of our periwigs than that of the government. At this rate, let us but
discount, out of a life of a hundred years, that time which has been
spent upon popular negotiations, frivolous amours, domestic brawls,
sauntering up and down to no purpose, diseases that we have brought
upon ourselves, and this large extent of life will not amount perhaps
to the minority of another man. It is a _long being_, but perchance a
_short life_. And what is the reason of all this? We live as we should
never die, and without any thought of human frailty, when yet the very
moment we bestow upon this man or thing, may, peradventure, be our
last. But the greatest loss of time is delay and expectation, which
depend upon the future. We let go the present, which we have in our
own power; we look forward to that which depends upon Fortune; and so
quit a certainty for an uncertainty. We should do by time as we do by a
torrent, make use of it while we have it, for it will not last always.

The calamities of human nature may be divided into the _fear of death_,
and the _miseries and errors of life_. And it is the great work of
mankind to master the one, and to rectify the other; and so live as
neither to make life irksome to us, nor death terrible. It should be
our care, before we are old, to live well, and when we are so, to die
well; that we may expect our end without sadness: for it is the duty of
life to prepare ourselves for death; and there is not an hour we live
that does not mind us of our mortality.

Time runs on, and all things have their fate, though it lies in the
dark. The period is certain to nature, but what am I the better for it
if it be not so to me? We propound travels, arms, adventures, without
ever considering that death lies in the way. Our term is set, and
none of us know how near it is; but we are all of us agreed that the
decree is unchangeable. Why should we wonder to have that befall us
to-day which might have happened to us any minute since we were born?
Let us therefore live as if every moment were to be our last, and set
our accounts right every day that passes over our heads. We are not
ready for death, and therefore we fear it, because we do not know what
will become of us when we are gone, and that consideration strikes us
with an inexplicable terror. The way to avoid this distraction is to
contract our business and our thoughts—when the mind is once settled,
a day or an age is all one to us; and the series of time, which is now
our trouble will be then our delight; for he that is steadily resolved
against all uncertainties, shall never be disturbed with the variety of
them. Let us make haste, therefore, to live, since every day to a wise
man is a new life—for he has done his business the day before, and so
prepared himself for the next, that if it be not his last, he knows
yet that it might have been so. No man enjoys the true taste of life
but he that is willing and ready to quit it.

The wit of man is not able to express the blindness of human folly in
taking so much more care of our fortunes, our houses, and our money,
than we do of our lives—everybody breaks in upon the one _gratis_, but
we betake ourselves to fire and sword if any man invades the other.
There is no dividing in the case of patrimony, but people share our
time with us at pleasure, so profuse are we of that only thing whereof
we may be honestly covetous. It is a common practice to ask an hour
or two of a friend for such or such a business, and it is as easily
granted, both parties only considering the occasion, and not the thing
itself. They never put time to account, which is the most valuable of
all precious things; but because they do not see it they reckon upon
it as nothing: and yet these easy men when they come to die would give
the whole world for those hours again which they so inconsiderately
cast away before; but there is no recovering of them. If they could
number their days that are yet to come as they can those that are
already past, how would those very people tremble at the apprehension
of death, though a hundred years hence, that never so much as think of
it at present, though they know not but it may take them away the next
immediate minute!

It is an usual saying “I would give my life for such or such a friend,”
when, at the same time, we do give it without so much as thinking
of it; nay, when that friend is never the better for it, and we
ourselves the worse. Our time is set, and day and night we travel on.
There is no baiting by the way, and it is not in the power of either
prince or people to prolong it. Such is the love of life, that even
those decrepit dotards that have lost the use of it will yet beg the
continuance of it, and make themselves younger than they are, as if
they could cozen even Fate itself! When they fall sick, what promises
of amendment if they escape that bout! What exclamations against the
folly of their misspent time—and yet if they recover, they relapse. No
man takes care to live well, but long; when yet it is in everybody’s
power to do the former, and in no man’s to do the latter. We consume
our lives in providing the very instruments of life, and govern
ourselves still with a regard to the future, so that we do not properly
live, but we are about to live. How great a shame is it to be laying
new foundations of life at our last gasp, and for an old man (that can
only prove his age by his beard,) with one foot in the grave, to go to
school again! While we are young we may learn; our minds are tractable
and our bodies fit for labor and study; but when age comes on, we are
seized with languor and sloth, afflicted with diseases, and at last
we leave the world as ignorant as we came into it—only we _die_ worse
than we were _born_, which is none of Nature’s fault, but ours; for our
fears, suspicions, perfidy, etc., are from ourselves.

I wish with all my soul that I had thought of my end sooner, but I must
make the more haste now and spur on like those that set out late upon
a journey—it will be better to learn late than not at all—though it be
but only to instruct me how I may leave the stage with honor.

In the division of life, there is time _present_, _past_, and _to
come_. What we _do_ is _short_, what we _shall do_ is _doubtful_, but
what we _have done_ is _certain_, and out of the power of fortune. The
passage of time is wonderfully quick, and a man must look backward to
see it; and, in that retrospect, he has all past ages at a view; but
the present gives us the slip unperceived. It is but a moment that we
live, and yet we are dividing it into _childhood_, _youth_, _man’s
estate_, and _old age_, all which degrees we bring into that narrow
compass. If we do not watch, we lose our opportunities; if we do not
make haste, we are left behind; our best hours escape us, the worst are
to come. The purest part of our life runs first, and leaves only the
dregs at the bottom; and “that time which is good for nothing else, we
dedicate to virtue;” and only propound to begin to live at an age that
very few people arrive at. What greater folly can there be in the world
than this loss of time, the future being so uncertain, and the damages
so irreparable? If death be necessary, why should any man fear it? and
if the time of it be uncertain, why should not we always expect it? We
should therefore first prepare ourselves by a virtuous life against the
dread of an inevitable death; and it is not for us to put off being
good until such or such a business is over, for one business draws on
another, and we do as good as sow it, one grain produces more. It is
not enough to philosophize when we have nothing else to do, but we must
attend wisdom even to the neglect of all things else; for we are so far
from having time to spare, that the age of the world would be yet too
narrow for our business; nor is it sufficient not to omit it, but we
must not so much as intermit it.

There is nothing that we can properly call our own but our time, and
yet every body fools us out of it that has a mind to it. If a man
borrows a paltry sum of money, there must be bonds and securities, and
every common civility is charged upon account; but he that has my time,
thinks he owes me nothing for it, though it be a debt that gratitude
itself can never repay. I cannot call any man poor that has enough
still left, be it never so little: it is good advice yet to those that
have the world before them, to play the good husbands betimes, for it
is too late to spare at the bottom, when all is drawn out to the lees.
He that takes away a day from me, takes away what he can never restore
me. But our time is either _forced away_ from us, or _stolen_ from us,
or _lost_; of which the last is the foulest miscarriage. It is in life
as in a journey; a book or a companion brings us to our lodging before
we thought we were half-way. Upon the whole matter we consume ourselves
one upon another, without any regard at all to our own particular. I
do not speak of such as live in notorious scandal, but even those men
themselves, whom the world pronounces happy, are smothered in their
felicities, servants to their professions and clients, and drowned
in their lusts. We are apt to complain of the haughtiness of _great
men_, when yet there is hardly any of them all so proud but that, at
some time or other, a man may yet have access to him, and perhaps a
good word or look into the bargain. Why do we not rather complain of
_ourselves_, for being of all others, even to ourselves, the most deaf
and inaccessible.

Company and business are great devourers of time, and our vices destroy
our lives as well as our fortunes. The present is but a moment, and
perpetually in flux; the time past, we call to mind when we please, and
it will abide the examination and inspection. But the busy man has
not leisure to look back, or if he has, it is an unpleasant thing to
reflect upon a life to be repented of, whereas the conscience of a good
life puts a man into a secure and perpetual possession of a felicity
never to be disturbed or taken away: but he that has led a wicked life
is afraid of his own memory; and, in the review of himself, he finds
only appetite, avarice, or ambition, instead of virtue. But still he
that is not at leisure many times to live, must, when his fate comes,
whether he will or not, be at leisure to die. Alas! what is time to
eternity? the age of a man to the age of the world? And how much of
this little do we spend in fears, anxieties, tears, childhood! nay, we
sleep away the one half. How great a part of it runs away in luxury
and excess: the ranging of our guests, our servants, and our dishes!
As if we were to eat and drink not for satiety, but ambition. The
nights may well seem short that are so dear bought, and bestowed upon
wine and women; the day is lost in expectation of the night, and the
night in the apprehension of the morning. There is a terror in our very
pleasures; and this vexatious thought in the very height of them, that
_they will not last always_: which is a canker in the delights, even of
the greatest and the most fortunate of men.



Oh the blessings of privacy and leisure! The wish of the powerful
and eminent, but the privilege only of inferiors; who are the only
people that live to themselves: nay, the very thought and hope of it
is a consolation, even in the middle of all the tumults and hazards
that attend greatness. It was Augustus’ prayer, that he might live to
retire and deliver himself from public business: his discourses were
still pointing that way, and the highest felicity which this mighty
prince had in prospect, was the divesting himself of that illustrious
state, which, how glorious soever in show, had at the bottom of it
only anxiety and care. But it is one thing to retire for pleasure, and
another thing for virtue, which must be active even in that retreat,
and give proof of what it has learned: for a good and a wise man does
in privacy consult the well-being of posterity. Zeno and Chrysippus
did greater things in their studies than if they had led armies, borne
offices, or given laws; which in truth they did, not to one city alone,
but to all mankind: their _quiet_ contributed more to the common
benefit than the _sweat_ and _labor_ of other people. That retreat is
not worth the while which does not afford a man greater and nobler work
than business. There is no slavish attendance upon great officers,
no canvassing for places, no making of parties, no disappointments in
my pretension to this charge, to that regiment, or to such or such a
title, no envy of any man’s favor or fortune; but a calm enjoyment of
the general bounties of Providence in company with a good conscience.
A wise man is never so busy as in the solitary contemplation of God
and the works of Nature. He withdraws himself to attend the service of
future ages: and those counsels which he finds salutary to himself, he
commits to writing for the good of after-times, as we do the receipts
of sovereign antidotes or balsams. He that is well employed in his
study, though he may seem to do nothing at all, does the greatest
things yet of all others, in affairs both human and divine. To supply a
friend with a sum of money, or give my voice for an office, these are
only private and particular obligations: but he that lays down precepts
for the governing of our lives and the moderating of our passions,
obliges human nature not only in the present, but in all succeeding

He that would be at quiet, let him repair to his philosophy, a study
that has credit with all sorts of men. The eloquence of the bar, or
whatsoever else addresses to the people, is never without enemies; but
philosophy minds its own business, and even the worst have an esteem
for it. There can never be such a conspiracy against virtue, the world
can never be so wicked, but the very name of a _philosopher_ shall
still continue venerable and sacred. And yet philosophy itself must be
handled modestly and with caution. But what shall we say of Cato then,
for his meddling in the broil of a civil war, and interposing himself
in the quarrel betwixt two enraged princes? He that, when Rome was
split into _two factions_ betwixt Pompey and Cæsar, declared himself
against _both_. I speak this of Cato’s last part; for in his former
time the commonwealth was made unfit for a wise man’s administration.
All he could do then was but bawling and beating of the air: one while
he was lugged and tumbled by the rabble, spit upon and dragged out of
the _forum_, and then again hurried out of the senate-house to prison.
There are some things which we propound originally, and others which
fall in as accessory to another proposition. If a wise man retire, it
is no matter whether he does it because the commonwealth was wanting to
him, or because he was wanting to it. But to what republic shall a man
betake himself? Not to Athens, where Socrates was condemned, and whence
Aristotle fled, for fear he should have been condemned too, and where
virtue was oppressed by envy: not to Carthage, where there was nothing
but tyranny, injustice, cruelty, and ingratitude. There is scarce any
government to be found that will either endure a wise man, or which a
wise man will endure; so that privacy is made necessary, because the
only thing which is better is nowhere to be had. A man may commend
navigation, and yet caution us against those seas that are troublesome
and dangerous: so that he does as good as command me not to weigh
anchor that commends sailing only upon these terms. He that is a slave
to business is the most wretched of slaves.

“But how shall I get myself at liberty? We can run any hazards for
money: take any pains for honor; and why do we not venture also
something for leisure and freedom? without which we must expect to live
and die in a tumult: for so long as we live in public, business breaks
in upon us, as one billow drives on another; and there is no avoiding
it with either modesty or quiet.” It is a kind of whirlpool, that sucks
a man in, and he can never disengage himself. A man of business cannot
in truth be said to live, and not one of a thousand understands how to
do it: for how to live, and how to die, is the lesson of every moment
of our lives: all other arts have their masters.

As a busy life is always a miserable life, so it is the greatest of all
miseries to be perpetually employed upon _other people’s business_;
for to sleep, to eat, to drink, at their hour; to walk their pace, and
to love and hate as they do, is the vilest of servitudes. Now, though
business must be quitted, let it not be done unseasonably; the longer
we defer it, the more we endanger our liberty; and yet we must no more
fly before the time than linger when the time comes: or, however, we
must not love business for business’ sake, nor indeed do we, but for
the profit that goes along with it: for we love the reward of misery,
though we hate the misery itself. Many people, I know, seek business
without choosing it, and they are even weary of their lives without it
for want of entertainment in their own thoughts; the hours are long
and hateful to them when they are alone, and they seem as short on the
other side in their debauches. When they are no longer _candidates_,
they are _suffragans_; when they give over other people’s business,
they do their own; and pretend business, but they make it, and value
themselves upon being thought men of employment.

Liberty is the thing which they are perpetually a-wishing, and never
come to obtain: a thing never to be bought nor sold, but a man must
ask it of himself, and give it to himself. He that has given proof of
his virtue in public, should do well to make a trial of it in private
also. It is not that solitude, or a country life, teaches innocence or
frugality; but vice falls of itself, without witnesses and spectators,
for the thing it designs is to be taken notice of. Did ever any man
put on rich clothes not to be seen? or spread the pomp of his luxury
where nobody was to take notice of it? If it were not for admirers and
spectators there would be no temptations to excess: the very keeping
of us from exposing them cures us of desiring them, for vanity and
intemperance are fed with ostentation.

He that has lived at sea in a storm, let him retire and die in the
haven; but let his retreat be without ostentation, and wherein he may
enjoy himself with a good conscience, without the want, the fear, the
hatred, or the desire, of anything, not out of malevolent detestation
of mankind, but for satisfaction and repose. He that shuns both
business and men, either out of envy, or any other discontent, his
retreat is but to the life of a mole: nor does he live to himself, as
a wise man does, but to his bed, his belly, and his lusts. Many people
seem to retire out of a weariness of public affairs, and the trouble of
disappointments; and yet ambition finds them out even in that recess
into which fear and weariness had cast them; and so does luxury, pride,
and most of the distempers of a public life.

There are many that lie close, not that they may live securely, but
that they may transgress more privately: it is their conscience, not
their states, that makes them keep a porter; for they live at such a
rate, that to be seen before they be aware is to be detected. Crates
saw a young man walking by himself; “Have a care,” says he “of lewd
company.” Some men are busy in idleness, and make peace more laborious
and troublesome than war; nay, and more wicked too, when they bestow it
upon such lusts, and other vices, which even the license of a military
life would not endure. We cannot call these people men of leisure that
are wholly taken up with their pleasures. A troublesome life is much
to be preferred before a slothful one; and it is a strange thing,
methinks, that any man should fear death that has buried himself alive;
as privacy without letters is but the burying of a man quick.

There are some that make a boast of their retreat, which is but a kind
of lazy ambition; they retire to make people talk of them, whereas I
would rather withdraw to speak to myself. And what shall that be, but
that which we are apt to speak of one another? I will speak ill of
myself: I will examine, accuse, and punish my infirmities. I have no
design to be cried up for a great man, that has renounced the world in
a contempt of the vanity and madness of human life; I blame nobody but
myself, and I address only to myself. He that comes to me for help is
mistaken, for I am not a physician, but a patient: and I shall be well
enough content to have it said, when any man leaves me, “I took him
for a happy and a learned man, and truly I find no such matter.” I had
rather have my retreat pardoned than envied.

There are some creatures that confound their footing about their dens,
that they may not be found out, and so should a wise man in the case of
his retirement. When the door is open, the thief passes it by as not
worth his while; but when it is bolted and sealed, it is a temptation
for people to be prying. To have it said “that such a one is never
out of his study, and sees nobody,” etc.; this furnishes matter for
discourse. He that makes his retirement too strict and severe, does as
good as call company to take notice of it.

Every man knows his own constitution; one eases his stomach by
vomit—another supports it with good nourishment; he that has the gout
forbears wine and bathing, and every man applies to the part that is
most infirm. He that shows a gouty foot, a lame hand, or contracted
nerves, shall be permitted to lie still and attend his cure; and why
not so in the vices of his mind! We must discharge all impediments and
make way for philosophy, as a study inconsistent with common business.
To all other things we must deny ourselves openly and frankly, when we
are sick refuse visits, keep ourselves close, and lay aside all public
cares, and shall we not do as much when we philosophize? Business is
the drudgery of the world, and only fit for slaves, but contemplation
is the work of wise men. Not but that solitude and company may be
allowed to take their turns: the one creates in us the love of mankind,
the other that of ourselves; solitude relieves us when we are sick of
company, and conversation when we are weary of being alone; so that
the one cures the other. “There is no man,” in fine, “so miserable as
he that is at a loss how to spend his time.” He is restless in his
thoughts, unsteady in his counsels, dissatisfied with the present,
solicitous for the future; whereas he that prudently computes his
hours and his business, does not only fortify himself against the
common accidents of life, but improves the most rigorous dispensations
of Providence to his comfort, and stands firm under all the trials of
human weakness.



It is a hard task to master the natural desire of life by a
philosophical contempt of death, and to convince the world that there
is no hurt in it, and crush an opinion that was brought up with us from
our cradles. What help? what encouragement? what shall we say to human
frailty, to carry it fearless through the fury of flames, and upon the
points of swords? what rhetoric shall we use to bear down the universal
consent of people to so dangerous an error? The captious and superfine
subtleties of the schools will never do the work: these speak many
things sharp, but utterly unnecessary, and void of effect. The truth
of it is, there is but one chain that holds all the world in bondage,
and that is the love of life. It is not that I propound the making of
death so indifferent to us, as it is, whether a man’s hairs be even or
odd; for what with self-love, and an implanted desire in every being of
preserving itself, and a long acquaintance betwixt the soul and body,
friends may be loth to part, and death may carry an appearance of evil,
though in truth it is itself no evil at all. Beside, that we are to go
to a strange place in the dark, and under great uncertainties of our
future state; so that people die in terror, because they do not know
whither they are to go, and they are apt to fancy the worst of what
they do not understand: these thoughts are indeed sufficient to startle
a man of great resolution without a wonderful support from above. And,
moreover, our natural scruples and infirmities are assisted by the wits
and fancies of all ages, in their infamous and horrid description of
another world: nay, taking it for granted that there will be no reward
and punishment, they are yet more afraid of an annihilation than of
hell itself.

But what is it we fear? “Oh! it is a terrible thing to die.” Well;
and is it not better once to suffer it, than always to fear it? The
earth itself suffers both _with_ me, and _before_ me. How many islands
are swallowed up in the sea! how many towns do we sail over! nay, how
many nations are wholly lost, either by inundations or earthquakes!
and shall I be afraid of my little body? why should I, that am sure
to die, and that all other things are mortal, be fearful of coming to
my last gasp myself? It is the fear of death that makes us base, and
troubles and destroys the life we would preserve; that aggravates all
circumstances, and makes them formidable. We depend but upon a flying
moment. Die we must; but when? what is that to us? It is the law of
Nature, the tribute of mortals, and the remedy of all evils. It is only
the disguise that affrights us; as children that are terrified with
a vizor. Take away the instruments of death, the fire, the ax, the
guards, the executioners, the whips, and the racks; take away the pomp,
I say, and the circumstances that accompany it, and death is no more
than what my slave yesterday contemned; the pain is nothing to a fit of
the stone; if it be tolerable, it is not great; and if intolerable,
it cannot last long. There is nothing that Nature has made necessary
which is more easy than death: we are longer a-coming into the world
than going out of it; and there is not any minute of our lives wherein
we may not reasonably expect it. Nay, it is but a moment’s work, the
parting of the soul and body. What a shame is it then to stand in fear
of anything so long that is over so soon!

Nor is it any great matter to overcome this fear; for we have examples
as well of the _meanest_ of men as of the greatest that have done it.
There was a fellow to be exposed upon the theatre, who in disdain
thrust a stick down his own throat, and choked himself; and another on
the same occasion, pretended to nod upon the chariot, as if he were
asleep, cast his head betwixt the spokes of the wheel, and kept his
seat until his neck was broken. Caligula, upon a dispute with Canius
Julius; “Do not flatter yourself,” says he, “for I have given orders to
put you to death.” “I thank your most gracious Majesty for it,” says
Canius, giving to understand, perhaps, that under his government death
was a mercy: for he knew that Caligula seldom failed of being as good
as his word in that case. He was at play when the officer carried him
away to his execution, and beckoning to the centurion, “Pray,” says
he, “will you bear me witness, when I am dead and gone, that I had the
better of the game?” He was a man exceedingly beloved and lamented,
and, for a farewell, after he had preached moderation to his friends;
“You,” says he, “are here disputing about the immortality of the soul,
and I am now going to learn the truth of it. If I discover any thing
upon that point, you shall hear of it.” Nay, the most timorous of
creatures, when they see there is no escaping, they oppose themselves
to all dangers; the despair gives them courage, and the necessity
overcomes the fear. Socrates was thirty days in prison after his
sentence, and had time enough to have starved himself, and so to have
prevented the poison: but he gave the world the blessing of his life
as long as he could, and took that fatal draught in the meditation and
contempt of death.

Marcellinus, in a deliberation upon death, called several of his
friends about him: one was fearful, and advised what he himself would
have done in the case; another gave the counsel which he thought
Marcellinus would like best; but a friend of his that was a Stoic, and
a stout man, reasoned the matter to him after this manner; Marcellinus
do not trouble yourself, as if it were such a mighty business that you
have now in hand; it is nothing to _live_; all your servants do it,
nay, your very beasts too; but to die honestly and resolutely, that
is a great point. Consider with yourself there is nothing pleasant in
life but what you have tasted already, and that which is to come is
but the same over again; and how many men are there in the world that
rather choose to die than to suffer the nauseous tediousness of the
repetition? Upon which discourse he fasted himself to death. It was
the custom of Pacuvius to solemnize, in a kind of pageantry, every day
his own funeral. When he had swilled and gormandized to a luxurious
and beastly excess, he was carried away from supper to bed with this
song and acclamation, “He has lived, he has lived.” That which he did
in lewdness, will become us to do in sobriety and prudence. If it
shall please God to add another day to our lives, let us thankfully
receive it; but, however, it is our happiest and securest course so
to compose ourselves to-night, that we may have no anxious dependence
on to-morrow. “He that can say, I have lived this day, makes the next
clear again.”

Death is the worst that either the severity of laws or the cruelty of
tyrants can impose upon us; and it is the utmost extent of the dominion
of Fortune. He that is fortified against that, must, consequently, be
superior to all other difficulties that are put in the way to it. Nay,
and on some occasions, it requires more courage to live than to die.
He that is not prepared for death shall be perpetually troubled, as
well with vain apprehensions, as with real dangers. It is not death
itself that is dreadful, but the fear of it that goes before it. When
the mind is under a consternation, there is no state of life that can
please us; for we do not so endeavor to avoid mischiefs as to run away
from them, and the greatest slaughter is upon a flying enemy. Had not
a man better breathe out his last once for all, than lie agonizing
in pains, consuming by inches, losing of his blood by drops? and yet
how many are there that are ready to betray their country, and their
friends, and to prostitute their very wives and daughters, to preserve
a miserable carcass! Madmen and children have no apprehension of death;
and it were a shame that our reason should not do as much toward our
security as their folly. But the great matter is to die considerately
and cheerfully upon the foundation of virtue; for life in itself is
irksome, and only eating and drinking in a circle.

How many are there that, betwixt the apprehensions of death and the
miseries of life, are at their wits’ end what to do with themselves?
Wherefore let us fortify ourselves against those calamities from which
the prince is no more exempt than the beggar. Pompey the Great had his
head taken off by a boy and a eunuch, (young Ptolemy and Photinus.)
Caligula commanded the tribune Dæcimus to kill Lepidus; and another
tribune (Chæreus) did as much for Caligula. Never was a man so great
but he was as liable to suffer mischief as he was able to do it. Has
not a thief, or an enemy, your throat at his mercy? nay, and the
meanest of servants has the power of life and death over his master;
for whosoever contemns his own life may be master of another body’s.
You will find in story, that the displeasure of servants has been as
fatal as that of tyrants: and what matters it the power of him we
fear, when the thing we fear is in every body’s power? Suppose I fall
into the hands of an enemy, and the conqueror condemns me to be led
in triumph; it is but carrying me thither whither I should have gone
without him, that is to say, toward death, whither I have been marching
ever since I was born. It is the fear of our last hour that disquiets
all the rest. By the justice of all constitutions, mankind is condemned
to a capital punishment; now, how despicable would that man appear,
who, being sentenced to death in common with the whole world, should
only petition that he might be the last man brought to the block?

Some men are particularly afraid of thunder, and yet extremely careless
of other and of greater dangers: as if that were all they have to
fear. Will not a sword, a stone, a fever, do the work as well? Suppose
the bolt should hit us, it were yet braver to die with a stroke than
with the bare apprehension of it: beside the vanity of imagining
that heaven and earth should be put into such a disorder only for the
death of one man. A good and a brave man is not moved with lightning,
tempest, or earthquakes; but perhaps he would voluntarily plunge
himself into that gulf, where otherwise he should only fall. The
cutting of a corn, or the swallowing of a fly, is enough to dispatch a
man; and it is no matter how great that is that brings me to my death,
so long as death itself is but little. Life is a small matter; but it
is a matter of importance to contemn it. Nature, that begat us, expels
us, and a better and a safer place is provided for us. And what is
death but a ceasing to be what we were before? We are kindled and put
out: to cease to be, and not to begin to be, is the same thing. We die
daily, and while we are growing, our life decreases; every moment that
passes takes away part of it; all that is past is lost; nay, we divide
with death the very instant that we live. As the last sand in the glass
does not measure the hour, but finishes it; so the last moment that
we live does not make up death, but concludes. There are some that
pray more earnestly for death than we do for life; but it is better to
receive it cheerfully when it comes than to hasten it before the time.

“But what is it that we would live any longer for?” Not for our
pleasures; for those we have tasted over and over, even to satiety: so
that there is no point of luxury that is new to us. “But a man would be
loth to leave his country and his friends behind him;” that is to say,
he would have them go first; for that is the least part of his care.
“Well; but I would fain live to do more good, and discharge myself
in the offices of life;” as if to die were not the duty of every man
that lives. We are loth to leave our possessions; and no man swims
well with his luggage. We are all of us equally fearful of death, and
ignorant of life; but what can be more shameful than to be solicitous
upon the brink of security? If death be at any time to be feared, it
is always to be feared; but the way never to fear it, is to be often
thinking of it. To what end is it to put off for a little while that
which we cannot avoid? He that dies does but follow him that is dead.
“Why are we then so long afraid of that which is so little awhile of
doing?” How miserable are those people that spend their lives in the
dismal apprehensions of death! for they are beset on all hands, and
every minute in dread of a surprise. We must therefore look about us,
as if we were in an enemy’s country; and consider our last hour, not as
a punishment, but as the law of Nature: the fear of it is a continual
palpitation of the heart, and he that overcomes that terror shall never
be troubled with any other.

Life is a navigation; we are perpetually wallowing and dashing one
against another; sometimes we suffer shipwreck, but we are always in
danger and in expectation of it. And what is it when it comes, but
either the end of a journey, or a passage? It is as great a folly to
fear _death_ as to fear _old age_; nay, as to fear life itself; for he
that would not die ought not to live, since death is the condition of
life. Beside that it is a madness to fear a thing that is certain; for
where there is no doubt, there is no place for fear.

We are still chiding of Fate, and even those that exact the most
rigorous justice betwixt man and man are yet themselves unjust to
Providence. “Why was such a one taken away in the prime of his years?”
As if it were the number of years that makes death easy to us, and not
the temper of the mind. He that would live a little longer to-day,
would be as loth to die a hundred years hence. But which is more
reasonable for us to obey Nature, or for Nature to obey us? Go we must
at last, and no matter how soon. It is the work of Fate to make us live
long, but it is the business of virtue to make a short life sufficient.
Life is to be measured by action, not by time; a man may die old at
thirty, and young at fourscore: nay, the one lives after death, and
the other perished before he died. I look upon age among the effects
of chance. How long I shall live is in the power of others, but it is
in my own how well. The largest space of time is to live till a man is
wise. He that dies of old age does no more than go to bed when he is
weary. Death is the test of life, and it is that only which discovers
what we are, and distinguishes betwixt ostentation and virtue. A man
may dispute, cite great authorities, talk learnedly, huff it out, and
yet be rotten at heart. But let us soberly attend our business: and
since it is uncertain _when_, or _where_, we shall die, let us look for
death in all places, and at all times: we can never study that point
too much, which we can never come to experiment whether we know it or
not. It is a blessed thing to dispatch the business of life before we
die, and then to expect death in the possession of a happy life. He is
the great man who is willing to die when his life is pleasant to him.
An honest life is not a greater good than an honest death. How many
brave young men, by an instinct of Nature, are carried on to great
actions, and even to the contempt of all hazards!

It is childish to go out of the world groaning and wailing as we came
into it. Our bodies must be thrown away, as the secundine that wraps
up the infant, the other being only the covering of the soul; we shall
then discover the secrets of Nature; the darkness shall be discussed,
and our souls irradiated with light and glory: a glory without a
shadow; a glory that shall surround us, and from whence we shall look
down and see day and night beneath us. If we cannot lift up our eyes
toward the lamp of heaven without dazzling, what shall we do when we
come to behold the divine light in its illustrious original? That death
which we so much dread and decline, is not the determination, but the
intermission of a life, which will return again. All those things,
that are the very cause of life, are the way to death: we fear it as
we do fame; but it is a great folly to fear words. Some people are so
impatient of life, that they are still wishing for death; but he that
wishes to die does not desire it: let us rather wait God’s pleasure,
and pray for health and life. If we have a mind to live, why do we
wish to die? If we have a mind to die, we may do it without talking
of it. Men are a great deal more resolute in the article of _death_
itself than they are about the circumstances of it: for it gives a man
courage to consider that his fate is inevitable: the slow approaches of
death are the most troublesome to us; as we see many a gladiator, who
upon his wounds, will direct his adversary’s weapon to his very heart,
though but timorous perhaps in the combat. There are some that have not
the heart either to live or die; that is a sad case. But this we are
sure of, “the fear of death is a continual slavery, as the contempt of
it is certain liberty.”



This life is only a prelude to eternity, where we are to expect another
original, and another state of things; we have no prospect of heaven
here but at a distance; let us therefore expect our last and decretory
hour with courage. The last (I say) to our bodies, but not to our
minds: our luggage we leave behind us, and return as naked out of the
world as we came into it. The day which we fear as our last is but
the birth-day of our eternity; and it is the only way to it. So that
what we fear as a rock, proves to be but a port, in many cases to be
desired, never to be refused; and he that dies young has only made a
quick voyage of it. Some are becalmed, others cut it away before wind;
and we live just as we sail: first, we rub our childhood out of sight;
our youth next; and then our middle age: after that follows old age,
and brings us to the common end of mankind.

It is a great providence that we have more ways out of the world than
we have into it. Our security stands upon a point, the very article
of death. It draws a great many blessings into a very narrow compass:
and although the fruit of it does not seem to extend to the defunct,
yet the difficulty of it is more than balanced by the contemplation of
the future. Nay, suppose that all the business of this world should be
forgotten, or my memory, traduced, what is all this to me? “I have done
my duty.” Undoubtedly that which puts an end to all other evils, cannot
be a very great evil itself, and yet it is no easy thing for flesh and
blood to despise life. What if death comes? If it does not stay with us
why should we fear it? One hangs himself for a mistress; another leaps
the garret-window to avoid a choleric master; a third runs away and
stabs himself, rather than he will be brought back again. We see the
force even of our infirmities, and shall we not then do greater things
for the love of virtue? To suffer death is but the law of nature;
and it is a great comfort that it can be done but once; in the very
convulsions of it we have this consolation, that our pain is near an
end, and that it frees us from all the miseries of life.

What it is we know not, and it were rash to condemn what we do not
understand; but this we presume, either that we shall pass out of this
into a better life, where we shall live with tranquillity and splendor,
in diviner mansions, or else return to our first principles, free from
the sense of any inconvenience. There is nothing immortal, nor many
things lasting; by but divers ways everything comes to an end. What
an arrogance is it then, when the world itself stands condemned to a
dissolution, that man alone should expect to live forever! It is unjust
not to allow unto the giver the power of disposing of his own bounty,
and a folly only to value the present. Death is as much a debt as
money, and life is but a journey towards it: some dispatch it sooner,
others later, but we must all have the same period. The thunderbolt is
undoubtedly just that draws even from those that are struck with it a

A great soul takes no delight in staying with the body: it considers
whence it came, and knows whither it is to go. The day will come that
shall separate this mixture of soul and body, of divine and human; my
body I will leave where I found it, my soul I will restore to heaven,
which would have been there already, but for the clog that keeps it
down: and beside, how many men have been the worse for longer living,
that might have died with reputation if they had been sooner taken
away! How many disappointments of hopeful youths, that have proved
dissolute men! Over and above the ruins, shipwrecks, torments, prisons,
that attend long life; a blessing so deceitful, that if a child were
in condition to judge of it, and at liberty to refuse it, he would not
take it.

What Providence has made necessary, human prudence should comply with
cheerfully: as there is a necessity of death, so that necessity is
equal and invincible. No man has cause of complaint for that which
every man must suffer as well as himself. When we _should_ die, we
_will not_, and when we _would not_ we _must_: but our fate is fixed,
and unavoidable is the decree. Why do we then stand trembling when
the time comes? Why do we not as well lament that we did not live a
thousand years ago, as that we shall not be alive a thousand years
hence? It is but traveling the great road, and to the place whither we
must all go at last. It is but submitting to the law of Nature, and to
that lot which the whole world has suffered that is gone before us; and
so must they too that are to come after us. Nay, how many thousands,
when our time comes, will expire in the same moment with us! He that
will not follow shall be drawn by force: and is it not much better now
to do that willingly which we shall otherwise be made to do in spite of
our hearts?

The sons of mortal parents must expect a mortal posterity—death is
the end of great and small. We are born helpless, and exposed to the
injuries of all creatures and of all weathers. The very necessaries
of life are deadly to us; we meet with our fate in our dishes, in
our cups, and in the very air we breathe; nay, our very birth is
inauspicious, for we come into the world weeping, and in the middle of
our designs, while we are meditating great matters, and stretching of
our thoughts to after ages, death cuts us off, and our longest date is
only the revolution of a few years. One man dies at the table; another
goes away in his sleep, a third in his mistress’s arms, a fourth is
stabbed, another is stung with an adder, or crushed with the fall of
a house. We have several ways to our end, but the end itself, which
is death, is still the same. Whether we die by a sword, by a halter,
by a potion, or by a disease, it is all but _death_. A child dies in
the swaddling-clouts, and an old man at a hundred—they are both mortal
alike, though the one goes sooner than the other. All that lies betwixt
the cradle and the grave is uncertain. If we compute the _troubles_,
the life even of a child is long: if the _sweetness_ of the _passage_,
that of an old man is short; the whole is slippery and deceitful, and
only death certain; and yet all people complain of that which never
deceived any man. Senecio raised himself from a small beginning to a
vast fortune, being very well skilled in the faculties both of getting
and of keeping, and either of them was sufficient for the doing of his
business. He was a man infinitely careful both of his patrimony and of
his body. He gave me a morning’s visit, (says our author,) and after
that visit he went away and spent the rest of the day with a friend of
his that was desperately sick. At night, he was merry at supper, and
seized immediately after with a quinsy which dispatched him in a few
hours. This man that had money at use in all places, and in the very
course and height of his prosperity was thus cut off. How foolish a
thing is it then for a man to flatter himself with long hopes, and to
pretend to dispose of the future: nay, the very present slips through
our fingers, and there is not that moment which we can call our own.

How vain a thing is it for us to enter upon projects, and to say to
ourselves, “Well, I will go build, purchase, discharge such offices,
settle my affairs, and then retire!” We are all of us born to the same
casualties—all equally frail and uncertain of to-morrow. At the very
altar where we pray for life, we learn to die, by seeing the sacrifices
killed before us. But there is no need of a wound, or searching the
heart for it, when the noose of a cord, or the smothering of a pillow
will do the work. All things have their seasons—they begin, they
increase, and they die. The heavens and the earth grow old, and are
appointed their periods.

That which we call _death_ is but a pause or suspension; and, in
truth, a progress to life, only our thoughts look downward upon the
body, and not forward upon things to come. All things under the sun
are mortal—cities—empires—and the time will come when it shall be a
question where they were, and, perchance, whether ever they had a
being or not. Some will be destroyed by war, others by luxury, fire,
inundations, earthquakes—why should it trouble me then to die, as a
forerunner of an universal dissolution? A great mind submits itself to
God, and suffers willingly what the law of the universe will otherwise
bring to pass upon necessity.

That good old man Bassus, (though with one foot in the grave,) how
cheerful a mind does he bear. He lives in the view of death, and
contemplates his own end with less concern of thought or countenance,
than he would do another man’s. It is a hard lesson, and we are a long
time a learning of it, to receive our death without trouble, especially
in the case of Bassus: in other deaths there is a mixture of hope—a
disease may be cured, a fire quenched, a falling house either propped
or avoided, the sea may swallow a man and throw him up again, a pardon
may interpose twixt the ax and the body—but in the case of old age
there is no place for either hope or intercession.

Let us live in our bodies, therefore, as if we were only to lodge
in them this night, and to leave them to-morrow. It is the frequent
thought of death that must fortify us against the necessity of it. He
that has armed himself against poverty, may, perhaps, come to live
in plenty. A man may strengthen himself against pain and yet live in
a state of health; against the loss of friends, and never lose any,
but he that fortifies himself against the fear of death shall most
certainly have occasion to employ that virtue. It is the care of a wise
and a good man to look to his manners and actions; and rather how well
he lives than how long, for to die sooner or later is not the business,
but to die well or ill, for “death brings us to immortality.”



Next to the encounter of death in our own bodies, the most sensible
calamity to an honest man is the death of a friend; and we are not in
truth without some generous instances of those that have preferred
a friend’s life before their own; and yet this affliction, which by
nature is so grievous to us, is by virtue and Providence made familiar
and easy.

To lament the death of a friend is both natural and just; a sigh
or a tear I would allow to his memory: but no profuse or obstinate
sorrow. Clamorous and public lamentations are not so much the effects
of grief as of vain-glory. He that is sadder in company than alone,
shows rather the ambition of his sorrow than the piety of it. Nay, and
in the violence of his passion there fall out twenty things that set
him a-laughing. At the long-run, time cures all, but it were better
done by moderation and wisdom. Some people do as good as set a watch
upon themselves, as if they were afraid that their grief would make
an escape. The ostentation of grief is many times more than the grief
itself. When any body is within hearing, what groans and outcries! when
they are alone and private, all is hush and quiet: so soon as any body
comes in, they are at it again; and down they throw themselves upon the
bed; fall to wringing of their hands, and wishing of themselves dead;
which they might have executed by themselves; but their sorrow goes off
with the company. We forsake nature, and run over to the practices of
the people, that never were the authors of anything that is good. If
destiny were to be wrought upon by tears, I would allow you to spend
your days and nights in sadness and mourning, tearing of your hair, and
beating of your breast; but if Fate be inexorable, and death will keep
what it has taken, grief is to no purpose. And yet I would not advise
insensibility and hardness; it were inhumanity, and not virtue, not to
be moved at the separation of familiar friends and relations: now, in
such cases, we cannot command ourselves, we cannot forbear weeping, and
we ought not to forbear: but let us not pass the bounds of affection,
and run into imitation; within these limits it is some ease to the mind.

A wise man gives way to tears in some cases, and cannot avoid them in
others. When one is struck with the surprise of ill-news, as the death
of a friend, or the like; or upon the last embrace of an acquaintance
under the hand of an executioner, he lies under a natural necessity
of weeping and trembling. In another case, we may indulge our sorrow,
as upon the memory of a dead friend’s conversation or kindness, one
may let fall tears of generosity and joy. We favor the one, and we are
overcome by the other; and this is well: but we are not upon any terms
to force them: they may flow of their own accord, without derogating
from the dignity of a wise man; who at the same time both preserves
his gravity, and obeys nature. Nay, there is a certain _decorum_ even
in weeping; for excess of sorrow is as foolish as profuse laughter.
Why do we not as well cry, when our trees that we took pleasure in,
shed their leaves, as at the loss of our satisfactions; when the next
season repairs them, either with the same again, or others in their
places. We may _accuse_ Fate, but we cannot _alter_ it; for it is hard
and inexorable, and not to be removed either with reproaches or tears.
They may carry _us_ to the _dead_, but never bring _them_ back again
to us. If reason does not put an end to our sorrows, fortune never
will: one is pinched with poverty; another solicited with ambition, and
fears the very wealth that he coveted. One is troubled for the loss
of children; another for the want of them: so that we shall sooner
want tears than matter for them; let us therefore spare that for which
we have so much occasion. I do confess, that in the very parting of
friends there is something of uneasiness and trouble; but it is rather
voluntary than natural; and it is custom more than sense that affects
us: we do rather impose a sorrow upon ourselves than submit to it; as
people cry when they have company, and when nobody looks on, all is
well again. To mourn without measure is folly, and not to mourn at
all is insensibility. The best temper is betwixt piety and reason;
to be sensible, but neither transported nor cast down. He that can
put a stop to his tears and pleasures when he will is safe. It is an
equal infelicity to be either too soft or too hard: we are overcome
by the one, and put to struggle with the other. There is a certain
intemperance in that sorrow that passes the rules of modesty; and yet
great piety is, in many cases, a dispensation to good manners. The
loss of a son or of a friend, cuts a man to the heart, and there is no
opposing the first violence of his passion; but when a man comes once
to deliver himself wholly up to lamentations, he is to understand,
that though some tears deserve compassion, others are yet ridiculous. A
grief that is fresh finds pity and comfort, but when it is inveterate
it is laughed at, for it is either counterfeit or foolish. Beside that,
to weep excessively for the dead is an affront to the living. The most
justifiable cause of mourning is to see good men come to ill ends, and
virtue oppressed by the iniquity of Fortune. But in this case, too,
they either suffer resolutely, and yield us delight in their courage
and example, or meanly, and so give us the less trouble for the loss.
He that dies cheerfully, dries up my tears; and he that dies whiningly,
does not deserve them. I would bear the death of friends and children
with the same constancy that I would expect my own, and no more lament
the one than fear the other. He that bethinks himself, how often
friends have been parted, will find more time lost among the living,
than upon the dead; and the most desperate mourners are they that cared
least for their friends when they were living; for they think to redeem
their credits, for want of kindness to the living, by extravagant
ravings after the dead. Some (I know) will have grief to be only the
perverse delight of a restless mind, and sorrows and pleasures to be
near akin; and there are, I am confident, that find joy even in their
tears. But which is more barbarous, to be insensible of grief for the
death of a friend, or to fish for pleasure in grief, when a son perhaps
is burning, or a friend expiring? To forget one’s friend, to bury the
memory with the body, to lament out of measure, is all inhuman. He that
is gone either would not have his friend tormented, or does not know
that he is so: if he does not feel it, it is superfluous; if he does,
it is unacceptable to him. If reason cannot prevail, reputation may;
for immoderate mourning lessens a man’s character: it is a shameful
thing for a wise man to make the _weariness_ of grieving the _remedy_
of it. In time, the most stubborn grief will leave us, if in prudence
we do not leave that first.

But do I grieve for my friend’s sake or for my own? Why should I
afflict myself for the loss of him that is either happy or not at all
in being? In the one case it is envy, and in the other it is madness.
We are apt to say, “What would I give to see him again, and to enjoy
his conversation! I was never sad in his company: my heart leaped
whenever I met him; I want him wherever I go.” All that is to be said
is, “The greater the loss, the greater is the virtue to overcome it.”
If grieving will do no good, it is an idle thing to grieve; and if that
which has befallen one man remains to all, it is as unjust to complain.
The whole world is upon the march towards the same point; why do we
not cry for ourselves that are to follow, as well as for him that has
gone first? Why do we not as well lament beforehand for that which we
know will be, and can not possibly but be? He is not _gone_, but _sent
before_. As there are many things that he has lost, so there are many
things that he does not fear; as anger, jealousy, envy, etc. Is he not
more happy in desiring nothing than miserable in what he has lost? We
do not mourn for the absent, why then for the dead, who are effectually
no other? We have lost one blessing, but we have many left; and shall
not all these satisfactions support us against one sorrow?

The comfort of having a friend may be taken away, but not that
of having had one. As there is a sharpness in some fruits, and a
bitterness in some wines that please us, so there is a mixture in the
remembrance of friends, where the loss of their company is sweetened
again by the contemplation of their virtues. In some respects, I have
lost what I had, and in others, I retain still what I have lost. It
is an ill construction of Providence to reflect only upon my friend’s
being taken away, without any regard to the benefit of his being
once given me. Let us therefore make the best of our friends while
we have them; for how long we shall keep them is uncertain. I have
lost a hopeful son, but how many fathers have been deceived in their
expectations! and how many noble families have been destroyed by luxury
and riot! He that grieves for the loss of a son, what if he had lost a
friend? and yet he that has lost a friend has more cause of joy that
he once had him, than of grief that he is taken away. Shall a man bury
his friendship with his friend? We are ungrateful for that which is
past, in hope of what is to come; as if that which is to come would not
quickly be past too. That which is past we are sure of. We may receive
satisfaction, it is true, both from the future and what is already
past; the one by expectation, and the other by memory; only the one may
possibly not come to pass, and it is impossible to make the other not
to have been.

But there is no applying of consolation to fresh and bleeding sorrow;
the very discourse irritates the grief and inflames it. It is like an
unseasonable medicine in a disease; when the first violence is over,
it will be more tractable, and endure the handling. Those people
whose minds are weakened by long felicity may be allowed to groan and
complain, but it is otherwise with those that have led their days
in misfortunes. A long course of adversity has this good in it, that
though it vexes a body a great while, it comes to harden us at last;
as a raw soldier shrinks at every wound, and dreads the surgeon more
than an enemy; whereas a _veteran_ sees his own body cut and lamed with
as little concern as if it were another’s. With the same resolution
should we stand the shock and cure of all misfortunes; we are never the
better for our experience, if we have not yet learned to be miserable.
And there is no thought of curing us by the diversion of sports and
entertainments; we are apt to fall into relapses; wherefore we had
better overcome our sorrow than delude it.



It is a masterpiece to draw good out of evil; and, by the help of
virtue, to improve misfortunes into blessings. “It is a sad condition,”
you will say, “for a man to be barred the freedom of his own country.”
And is not this the case of thousands that we meet every day in the
streets? Some for ambition; others, to negotiate, or for curiosity,
delight, friendship, study, experience, luxury, vanity, discontent:
some to exercise their virtues, others their vices; and not a few to
prostitute either their bodies or their eloquence? To pass now from
pleasant countries into the worst of islands; let them be never so
barren or rocky, the people never so barbarous, or the clime never so
intemperate, he that is banished thither shall find many strangers to
live there for their pleasure. The mind of man is naturally curious
and restless; which is no wonder, considering their divine original;
for heavenly things are always in motion: witness the stars, and the
orbs, which are perpetually moving, rolling, and changing of place and
according to the law and appointment of Nature. But here are no woods,
you will say, no rivers, no gold nor pearl, no commodity for traffic
or commerce; nay, hardly provision enough to keep the inhabitants
from starving. It is very right; here are no palaces, no artificial
grottoes, or materials for luxury and excess; but we lie under the
protection of Heaven; and a poor cottage for a retreat is more worth
than the most magnificent temple, when that cottage is consecrated
by an honest man under the guard of his virtue. Shall any man think
banishment grievous, when he may take such company along with him!
Nor is there any banishment but yields enough for our necessities,
and no kingdom is sufficient for superfluities. It is the mind that
makes us rich in a desert; and if the body be but kept alive, the
soul enjoys all spiritual felicities in abundance. What signifies the
being banished from one spot of ground to another, to a man that has
his thoughts above, and can look forward and backward, and wherever
he pleases; and that, wherever he is, has the same matter to work
upon? The body is but the prison or the clog of the mind, subjected to
punishments, robberies, diseases; but the mind is sacred and spiritual,
and liable to no violence. Is it that, a man shall want garments or
covering in banishment? The body is as easily clothed as fed; and
Nature has made nothing hard that is necessary. But if nothing will
serve us but rich embroideries and scarlet, it is none of Fortune’s
fault that we are poor, but our own. Nay, suppose a man should have
all restored him back again that he has lost, it will come to nothing,
for he will want more after that to satisfy his desires than he did
before to supply his necessities. Insatiable appetites are not so much
a thirst as a disease.

To come lower now; where is the people or nation that have not changed
their place of abode? Some by the fate of war; others have been cast
by tempests, shipwrecks, or want of provisions, upon unknown coasts.
Some have been forced abroad by pestilence, sedition, earthquakes,
surcharge of people at home. Some travel to see the world, others
for commerce; but, in fine, it is clear, that, upon some reason or
other, the whole race of mankind have shifted their quarters; changed
their very names as well as their habitations; insomuch that we have
lost the very memorials of what they were. All these transportations
of people, what are they but public banishments? The very _founder_
of the _Roman empire_ was an _exile_: briefly, the whole world has
been transplanted, and one mutation treads upon the heel of another.
That which one man desires, turns another man’s stomach; and he that
proscribes me to-day, shall himself be cast out to-morrow. We have,
however, this comfort in our misfortune; we have the same nature, the
same Providence, and we carry our virtues along with us. And this
blessing we owe to that almighty Power, call it what you will; either
a _God_, or an _Incorporeal Reason_, a _Divine Spirit_, or _Fate_, and
the _unchangeable Course_ of _causes_ and _effects_: it is, however,
so ordered, that nothing can be taken from us but what we can well
spare: and that which is most magnificent and valuable continues with
us. Wherever we go, we have the heavens over our heads, and no farther
from us than they were before; and so long as we can entertain our eyes
and thoughts with those glories, what matter is it what ground we tread

In the case of pain or sickness, it is only the body that is affected;
it may take off the speed of a footman, or bind the hands of a cobbler,
but the mind is still at liberty to hear, learn, teach, advise, and to
do other good offices. It is an example of public benefit, a man that
is in pain and patient. Virtue may show itself as well in the bed as
in the field; and he that cheerfully encounters the terrors of death
and corporal anguish, is as great a man as he that most generously
hazards himself in a battle. A disease, it is true, bars us of some
pleasures, but procures us others. Drink is never so grateful to us as
in a burning fever; nor meat, as when we have fasted ourselves sharp
and hungry. The patient may be forbidden some sensual satisfaction,
but no physician will forbid us the delight of the mind. Shall we call
any sick man miserable, because he must give over his intemperance
of wine and gluttony, and betake himself to a diet of more sobriety,
and less expense; and abandon his luxury, which is the distemper of
the mind as well as of the body? It is troublesome, I know, at first,
to abstain from the pleasures we have been used to, and to endure
hunger and thirst; but in a little time we lose the very appetite,
and it is no trouble then to be without that which we do not desire.
In diseases there are great pains; but if they be long they remit,
and give us some intervals of ease; if short and violent, either they
dispatch _us_, or consume _themselves_; so that either their respites
make them tolerable, or the extremity makes them short. So merciful
is Almighty God to us, that our torments cannot be very sharp and
lasting. The acutest pains are those that affect the nerves, but there
is this comfort in them too, that they will quickly make us stupid and
insensible. In cases of extremity, let us call to mind the most eminent
instances of patience and courage, and turn our thoughts from our
afflictions to the contemplation of virtue. Suppose it be the stone,
the gout, nay, the rack itself; how many have endured it without so
much as a groan or word speaking; without so much as asking for relief,
or giving an answer to a question! Nay, they have laughed at the
tormentors upon the very torture, and provoked them to new experiments
of their cruelty, which they have had still in derision. The _asthma_ I
look upon as of all diseases the most importunate; the physicians call
it the _meditation of death_, as being rather an agony than a sickness;
the fit holds one not above an hour, as nobody is long in expiring. Are
there not three things grievous in sickness, the fear of death, bodily
pain, and the intermission of our pleasures? the first is to be imputed
to nature, not to the disease; for we do not die because we are sick,
but because we live. Nay, sickness itself has preserved many a man from



No man shall ever be poor that goes to himself for what he wants;
and that is the readiest way to riches. Nature, indeed, will have
her due; but yet whatsoever is beyond necessity is precarious, and
not necessary. It is not her business to gratify the palate, but to
satisfy a craving stomach. Bread, when a man is hungry, does his work,
let it be never so coarse; and water when he is dry; let his thirst
be quenched, and Nature is satisfied, no matter whence it comes, or
whether he drinks in gold, silver, or in the hollow of his hand. To
promise a man riches, and to teach him poverty, is to deceive him: but
shall I call him poor that wants nothing; though he maybe beholden for
it to his patience, rather than to his fortune? Or shall any man deny
him to be rich, whose riches can never be taken away? Whether is it
better to have much or enough? He that has much desires more, and shows
that he has not yet enough; but he that has enough is at rest. Shall
a man be reputed the less rich for not having that for which he shall
be banished; for which his very wife, or son, shall poison him: that
which gives him security in war, and quiet in peace; which he possesses
without danger, and disposes of without trouble? No man can be poor
that has enough; nor rich, that covets more than he has. Alexander,
after all his conquests, complained that he wanted more worlds; he
desired something more, even when he had gotten all: and that which was
sufficient for human nature was not enough for one man. Money never
made any man rich; for the more he had, the more he still coveted. The
richest man that ever lived is poor in my opinion, and in any man’s may
be so: but he that keeps himself to the stint of Nature, does neither
feel poverty nor fear it; nay, even in poverty itself there are some
things superfluous. Those which the world calls happy, their felicity
is a false splendor, that dazzles the eyes of the vulgar; but our rich
man is glorious and happy within. There is no ambition in hunger or
thirst: let there be food, and no matter for the table, the dish, and
the servants, nor with what meats nature is satisfied. Those are the
torments of luxury, that rather stuff the stomach than fill it: it
studies rather to cause an appetite than to allay it. It is not for us
to say, “This is not handsome; that is common; the other offends my
eye.” Nature provides for health, not delicacy. When the trumpet sounds
a charge, the poor man knows that he is not aimed at; when they cry
out _fire_, his body is all he has to look after: if he be to take a
journey, there is no blocking up of streets, and thronging of passages,
for a parting compliment: a small matter fills his belly, and contents
his mind: he lives from hand to mouth, without caring or fearing for
to-morrow. The temperate rich man is but his counterfeit; his wit is
quicker and his appetite calmer.

No man finds poverty a trouble to him, but he that thinks it so; and
he that thinks it so, makes it so. Does not a rich man travel more
at ease with less luggage, and fewer servants? Does he not eat many
times as little and as coarse in the field as a poor man? Does he
not for his own pleasure, sometimes, and for variety, feed upon the
ground, and use only earthen vessels? Is not he a madman then, that
always fears what he often desires, and dreads the thing that he takes
delight to imitate: he that would know the worst of poverty, let him
but compare the looks of the rich and of the poor, and he shall find
the poor man to have a smoother brow, and to be more merry at heart; or
if any trouble befalls him, it passes over like a cloud: whereas the
other, either his good humor is counterfeit, or his melancholy deep
and ulcerated, and the worse, because he dares not publicly own his
misfortune; but he is forced to play the part of a happy man even with
a cancer in his heart. His felicity is but personated; and if he were
but stripped of his ornaments, he would be contemptible. In buying of
a horse, we take off his clothes and his trappings, and examine his
shape and body for fear of being cozened; and shall we put an estimate
upon a man for being set off by his fortune and quality? Nay, if we see
anything of ornament about him, we are to suspect him the more for some
infirmity under it. He that is not content in poverty, would not be so
neither in plenty; for the fault is not in the thing, but in the mind.
If that be sickly, remove him from a kennel to a palace, he is at the
same pass; for he carries his disease along with him.

What can be happier than the condition both of mind and of fortune from
which we cannot fall—what can be a greater felicity than in a covetous,
designing age, for a roan to live safe among informers and thieves? It
puts a poor man into the very condition of Providence, that gives all,
without reserving anything to itself. How happy is he that owes nothing
but to himself, and only that which he can easily refuse or easily
pay! I do not reckon him poor that has but a little, but he is so that
covets more—it is a fair degree of plenty to have what is necessary.
Whether had a man better find satiety in want, or hunger in plenty? It
is not the augmenting of our fortunes, but the abating of our appetites
that makes us rich.

Why may not a man as well contemn riches in his own coffers as in
another man’s, and rather hear that they are his than feel them to be
so, though it is a great matter not to be corrupted even by having
them under the same roof. He is the greater man that is honestly poor
in the middle of plenty—but he is the more secure that is free from
the temptation of that plenty, and has the least matter for another
to design upon. It is no great business for a poor man to preach the
contempt of riches, or for a rich man to extol the benefits of poverty,
because we do not know how either the one or the other would behave
himself in the contrary condition. The best proof is the doing of it
by choice and not by necessity; for the practice of poverty in jest
is a preparation toward the bearing of it in earnest; but it is yet a
generous disposition so to provide for the worst of fortunes as what
may be easily borne—the premeditation makes them not only tolerable but
delightful to us, for there is that in them without which nothing can
be comfortable, that is to say, security. If there were nothing else in
poverty but the certain knowledge of our friends, it were yet a most
desirable blessing, when every man leaves us but those that love us.
It is a shame to place the happiness of life in gold and silver, for
which bread and water is sufficient; or, at the worst, hunger puts an
end to hunger.

For the honor of _poverty_, it was both the _foundation_ and the _cause
of the Roman empire_; and no man was ever yet so poor but he had enough
to carry him to his journey’s end.

All I desire is that my property may not be a burden to myself, or make
me so to others; and that is the best state of fortune that is neither
directly necessitous, nor far from it. A mediocricity of fortune with
a gentleness of mind, will preserve us from fear or envy, which is a
desirable condition, for no man wants power to do mischief. We never
consider the blessing of coveting nothing, and the glory of being full
in ourselves, without depending upon Fortune. With parsimony a little
is sufficient and without it nothing; whereas frugality makes a poor
man rich. If we lose an estate, we had better never have had it—he that
has least to lose has least to fear, and those are better satisfied
whom Fortune never favored, than those whom she has forsaken.

The state is most commodious that lies betwixt poverty and plenty.
Diogenes understood this very well when he put himself into an
incapacity of losing any thing. That course of life is most commodious
which is both safe and wholesome—the body is to be indulged no farther
than for health, and rather mortified than not kept in subjection to
the mind. It is necessary to provide against hunger, thirst, and cold;
and somewhat for a covering to shelter us against other inconveniences;
but not a pin matter whether it be of turf or of marble—a man may lie
as warm and as dry under a thatched as under a gilded roof. Let the
mind be great and glorious, and all other things are despicable in
comparison. “The future is uncertain, and I had rather beg of myself
not to desire any thing, than of Fortune to bestow it.”




We are here to encounter the most outrageous, brutal, dangerous, and
intractable of all passions; the most loathsome and unmannerly; nay,
the most ridiculous too; and the subduing of this monster will do a
great deal toward the establishment of human peace. It is the method of
_physicians_ to begin with a description of the disease, before they
meddle with the cure: and I know not why this may not do as well in the
distempers of the mind as in those of the body.

The _Stoics_ will have _anger_ to be a “desire of punishing another
for some injury done.” Against which it is objected, that we are many
times angry with those that never did hurt us, but possibly may, though
the harm be not as yet done. But I say, that they hurt us already in
conceit: and the very purpose of it is an injury in thought before it
breaks out into act. It is opposed again, that if anger were a _desire
of punishing_, mean people would not be angry with great ones that are
out of their reach; for no man can be said to desire any thing which he
judges impossible to compass. But I answer to this, That _anger_ is the
_desire_, not the _power_ and _faculty_ of _revenge_; neither is any
man so low, but that the greatest man alive may peradventure lie at his

Aristotle takes _anger_ to be, “a desire of paying sorrow for sorrow;”
and of plaguing those that have plagued us. It is argued against both,
that beasts are angry; though neither provoked by any injury, nor moved
with a desire of any body’s grief or punishment. Nay, though they cause
it, they do not design or seek it. Neither is _anger_ (how unreasonable
soever in itself) found anywhere but in reasonable creatures. It is
true, the beasts have an impulse of rage and fierceness; as they are
more affected also than men with some pleasures; but we may as well
call them luxurious and ambitious as angry. And yet they are not
without certain images of human affections. They have their likings
and their loathings; but neither the passions of reasonable nature,
nor their virtues, nor their vices. They are moved to fury by some
objects; they are quieted by others; they have their terrors and their
disappointments, but without reflection: and let them be never so much
irritated or affrighted, so soon as ever the occasion is removed they
fall to their meat again, and lie down and take their rest. Wisdom and
thought are the goods of the mind, whereof brutes are wholly incapable;
and we are as unlike them within as we are without: they have an
odd kind of fancy, and they have a voice too; but inarticulate and
confused, and incapable of those variations which are familiar to us.

Anger is not only a vice, but a vice point-blank against nature, for it
divides instead of joining; and in some measure, frustrates the end of
Providence in human society. One man was born to help another; anger
makes us destroy one another; the one unites, the other separates; the
one is beneficial to us, the other mischievous; the one succors even
strangers, the other destroys even the most intimate friends; the one
ventures all to save another, the other ruins himself to undo another.
Nature is bountiful, but anger is pernicious: for it is not fear, but
mutual love that binds up mankind.

There are some motions that look like anger, which cannot properly be
called so; as the passion of the people against the _gladiators_, when
they hang off, and will not make so quick a dispatch as the spectators
would have them: there is something in it of the humor of children,
that if they get a fall, will never leave bawling until the naughty
ground is beaten, and then all is well again. They are angry without
any cause or injury; they are deluded by an imitation of strokes, and
pacified with counterfeit tears. A false and a childish sorrow is
appeased with as false and as childish a revenge. They take it for a
contempt, if the _gladiators_ do not immediately cast themselves upon
the sword’s point. They look presently about them from one to another,
as who should say; “Do but see, my masters, how these rogues abuse us.”

To descend to the particular branches and varieties would be
unnecessary and endless. There is a stubborn, a vindictive, a
quarrelsome, a violent, a froward, a sullen, a morose kind of anger;
and then we have this variety in complication too. One goes no
further than words; another proceeds immediately to blows, without a
word speaking; a third sort breaks out into cursing and reproachful
language; and there are that content themselves with chiding and
complaining. There is a conciliable anger and there is an implacable;
but in what form or degree soever it appears, all anger, without
exception, is vicious.



The question will be here, whether _anger_ takes its rise from impulse
or judgment; that is, whether it be moved of its own accord, or, as
many other things are, from within us, that arise we know not how? The
clearing of this point will lead us to greater matters.

The _first_ motion of _anger_ is in truth involuntary, and only a kind
of menacing preparation towards it. The _second_ deliberates; as who
should say, “This injury should not pass without a revenge,” and there
it stops. The _third_ is impotent; and, right or wrong, resolves upon
vengeance. The _first motion_ is not to be avoided, nor indeed the
_second_, any more than yawning for company; custom and care may lessen
it, but reason itself cannot overcome it. The _third_, as it rises upon
consideration, it must fall so too, for that motion which proceeds with
judgment may be taken away with judgment. A man thinks himself injured,
and hath a mind to be revenged, but for some reason lets it rest. This
is not properly _anger_, but an _affection overruled by reason_; a kind
of proposal disapproved—and what are reason and affection, but only
changes of the mind for the better or for the worse? Reason deliberates
before it judges; but anger passes sentence without deliberation.
Reason only attends the matter in hand; but anger is startled at every
accident; it passes the bounds of reason, and carries it away with
it. In short, “anger is an agitation of the mind that proceeds to the
resolution of a revenge, the mind assenting to it.”

There is no doubt but anger is moved by the species of an injury; but
whether that motion be voluntary or involuntary is the point in debate;
though it seems manifest to me that _anger_ does nothing but where the
mind goes along with it, for, first, to take an offence, and then to
meditate a revenge, and after that to lay both propositions together,
and say to myself, “This injury ought not to have been done; but as the
case stands, I must do myself right.” This discourse can never proceed
without the concurrence of the will.

The first motion indeed is single; but all the rest is deliberation
and superstructure—there is something understood and condemned—an
indignation conceived and a revenge propounded. This can never be
without the agreement of the mind to the matter in deliberation. The
end of this question is to know the nature and quality of _anger_. If
it be bred in us it will never yield to reason, for all involuntary
motions are inevitable and invincible; as a kind of horror and
shrugging upon the sprinkling of cold water; the hair standing on
end at ill news; giddiness at the sight of a precipice; blushing at
lewd discourse. In these cases reason can do no good, but _anger_
may undoubtedly be overcome by caution and good counsel, for it is a
_voluntary vice_, and not of the condition of those accidents that
befall us as frailties of our humanity, amongst which must be reckoned
the first motions of the mind after the opinion of an injury received,
which it is not in the power of human nature to avoid, and this is it
that affects us upon the stage, or in a story.

Can any man read the death of Pompey, and not be touched with an
indignation? The sound of a trumpet rouses the spirits and provokes
courage. It makes a man sad to see the shipwreck even of an enemy; and
we are much surprised by fear in other cases—all these motions are not
so much affections as preludes to them. The clashing of arms or the
beating of a drum excites a war-horse: nay, a song from Xenophantes
would make Alexander take his sword in his hand.

In all these cases the mind rather suffers than acts, and therefore it
is not an affection _to be moved_, but _to give way_ to that motion,
and to follow willingly what was started by chance—these are not
affections, but impulses of the body. The bravest man in the world may
look pale when he puts on his armor, his knees knock, and his heart
work before the battle is joined: but these are only _motions_; whereas
_anger_ is an _excursion_, and proposes revenge or punishment, which
cannot be without the mind. As fear flies, so anger assaults; and it is
not possible to resolve, either upon violence or caution, without the
concurrence of the will.



It is an idle thing to pretend that we cannot govern our _anger_;
for some things that we do are much harder than others that we ought
to do; the wildest affections may be tamed by discipline, and there
is hardly anything which the mind will do but it may do. There needs
no more argument in this case than the instances of several persons,
both powerful and impatient, that have gotten the absolute mastery of
themselves in this point.

Thrasippus in his drink fell foul upon the cruelties of Pisistratus;
who, when he was urged by several about him to make an example of him,
returned this answer, “Why should I be angry with a man that stumbles
upon me blindfold?” In effect most of our quarrels are of our own
making, either by mistake or by aggravation. Anger comes sometimes upon
us, but we go oftener to it, and instead of rejecting it we call it.

Augustus was a great master of his passion: for Timagenus, an
historian, wrote several bitter things against his person and his
family: which passed among the people plausibly enough, as pieces of
rash wit commonly do. Cæsar advised him several times to forbear; and
when that would not do, forbade him his roof. After this, Asinius
Pollio gave him entertainment; and he was so well beloved in the
city, that every man’s house was open to him. Those things that he
had written in honor of Augustus, he recited and burnt, and publicly
professed himself Cæsar’s enemy. Augustus, for all this, never fell
out with any man that received him; only once, he told Pollio, that he
had taken a _snake_ into his bosom: and as Pollio was about to excuse
himself; “No,” says Cæsar, interrupting him, “make your best of him.”
And offering to cast him off at that very moment, if Cæsar pleased: “Do
you think,” says Cæsar, “that I will ever contribute to the parting of
you, that made you friends?” for Pollio was angry with him before, and
only entertained him now because Cæsar had discarded him.

The moderation of Antigonus was remarkable. Some of his soldiers were
railing at him one night, where there was but a hanging betwixt them.
Antigonus overheard them, and putting it gently aside; “Soldiers,” says
he, “stand a little further off, for fear the king should hear you.”
And we are to consider, not only violent examples, but moderate, where
there wanted neither cause of displeasure nor power of revenge: as in
the case of Antigonus, who the same night hearing his soldiers cursing
him for bringing them into so foul a way, he went to them, and without
telling them who he was, helped them out of it. “Now,” says he, “you
may be allowed to curse him that brought you into the mire, provided
you bless him that took you out of it.”

It was a notable story that of Vedius Pallio, upon his inviting of
Augustus to supper. One of his boys happened to break a glass: and his
master, in a rage, commanded him to be thrown in a pond to feed his
lampreys. This action of his might be taken for _luxury_, though, in
truth, it was cruelty. The boy was seized, but brake loose and threw
himself at Augustus’ feet, only desiring that he might not die that
death. Cæsar, in abhorrence of the barbarity, presently ordered all
the rest of the glasses to be broken, the boy to be released, and the
pond to be filled up, that there might be no further occasion for an
inhumanity of that nature. This was an authority well employed. Shall
the breaking of a glass cost a man his life? Nothing but a predominant
fear could ever have mastered his choleric and sanguinary disposition.
This man deserved to die a thousand deaths, either for eating human
flesh at second-hand in his _lampreys_, or for keeping of his fish to
be so fed.

It is written of Præxaspes (a favorite of Cambyses, who was much given
to wine) that he took the freedom to tell this prince of his hard
drinking, and to lay before him the scandal and the inconveniences of
his excesses; and how that, in those distempers, he had not the command
of himself. “Now,” says Cambyses, “to show you your mistake, you shall
see me drink deeper than ever I did, and yet keep the use of my eyes,
and of my hands, as well as if I were sober.” Upon this he drank to
a higher pitch than ordinary, and ordered Præxaspes’ son to go out,
and stand on the other side of the threshold, with his left arm over
his head; “And,” says he, “if I have a good aim, have at the heart of
him.” He shot, and upon cutting up the young man, they found indeed
that the arrow had struck him through the middle of the heart. “What
do you think now,” says Cambyses, “is my hand steady or not?” “Apollo
himself,” says Præxaspes, “could not have outdone it.” It may be a
question now, which was the greater impiety, the murder itself, or
the commendation of it; for him to take the heart of his son, while
it was yet reeking and panting under the wound, for an occasion of
flattery: why was there not another experiment made upon the father,
to try if Cambyses could not have yet mended his shot? This was a most
unmanly violation of hospitality; but the approbation of the act was
still worse than the crime itself. This example of Præxaspes proves
sufficiently that a man may repress his anger; for he returned not
one ill word, no not so much as a complaint; but he paid dear for his
good counsel. He had been wiser, perhaps, if he had let the king alone
in his cups, for he had better have drunk wine than blood. It is a
dangerous office to give good advice to intemperate princes.

Another instance of anger suppressed, we have in Harpagus, who was
commanded to expose Cyrus upon a mountain. But the child was preserved;
which, when Astyages came afterwards to understand, he invited Harpagus
to a dish of meat; and when he had eaten his fill, he told him it was a
piece of his son, and asked him how he liked the seasoning. “Whatever
pleases your Majesty,” says Harpagus, “must please me:” and he made no
more words of it. It is most certain, that we might govern our anger if
we would; for the same thing that galls us at home gives us no offence
at all abroad; and what is the reason of it, but that we are patient in
one place, and froward in another?

It was a strong provocation that which was given to Philip of Macedon,
the father of Alexander. The Athenians sent their ambassadors to him,
and they were received with this compliment, “Tell me, gentlemen,”
says Philip, “what is there that I can do to oblige the Athenians?”
Democharas, one of the ambassadors, told him, that they would take it
for a great obligation if he would be pleased to hang himself. This
insolence gave an indignation to the by-standers; but Philip bade them
not to meddle with him, but even to let that foul-mouthed fellow go as
he came. “And for you, the rest of the ambassadors,” says he, “pray
tell the Athenians, that it is worse to speak such things than to hear
and forgive them.” This wonderful patience under contumelies was a
great means of Philip’s security.



He was much in the right, whoever it was, that first called _anger
a short madness_; for they have both of them the same symptoms; and
there is so wonderful a resemblance betwixt the transports of _choler_
and those of _frenzy_, that it is a hard matter to know the one from
the other. A bold, fierce, and threatening countenance, as pale as
ashes, and, in the same moment, as red as blood; a glaring eye, a
wrinkled brow, violent motions, the hands restless and perpetually
in action, wringing and menacing, snapping of the joints, stamping
with the feet, the hair starting, trembling of the lips, a forced and
squeaking voice; the speech false and broken, deep and frequent sighs,
and ghastly looks; the veins swell, the heart pants, the knees knock;
with a hundred dismal accidents that are common to both distempers.
Neither is _anger_ a bare resemblance only of madness, but many times
an irrevocable transition into the thing itself. How many persons
have we known, read, and heard of, that have lost their wits in a
passion, and never came to themselves again? It is therefore to be
avoided, not only for moderation’s sake, but also for health. Now, if
the outward appearance of anger be so foul and hideous, how deformed
must that miserable mind be that is harassed with it? for it leaves
no place either for counsel or friendship, honesty or good manners;
no place either for the exercise of reason, or for the offices of
life. If I were to describe it, I would draw a tiger bathed in blood,
sharp set, and ready to take a leap at his prey; or dress it up as the
poets represent the furies, with whips, snakes, and flames; it should
be sour, livid, full of scars, and wallowing in gore, raging up and
down, destroying, grinning, bellowing, and pursuing; sick of all other
things, and most of all, itself. It turns beauty into deformity, and
the calmest counsels into fierceness: it disorders our very garments,
and fills the mind with horror. How abominable is it in the soul then,
when it appears so hideous even through the bones, the skin and so
many impediments! Is not he a madman that has lost the government of
himself, and is tossed hither and thither by his fury as by a tempest?
the executioner and the murderer of his nearest friends? The smallest
matter moves it, and makes us unsociable and inaccessible. It does all
things by violence, as well upon itself as others; and it is, in short;
the master of all passions.

There is not any creature so terrible and dangerous by nature, but
it becomes fiercer by anger. Not that beasts have human affections,
but certain impulses they have which come very near them. The boar
foams, champs, and whets his tusks; the bull tosses his horns in the
air, bounds, and tears up the ground with his feet; the lion roars
and swinges himself with his tail; the serpent swells; and there is
a ghastly kind of fellness in the aspect of a mad dog. How great a
wickedness is it now to indulge a violence, that does not only turn
a man into a beast, but makes even the most outrageous of beasts
themselves to be more dreadful and mischievous! A vice that carries
along with it neither pleasure nor profit, neither honor nor security;
but on the contrary, destroys us to all the comfortable and glorious
purposes of our reasonable being. Some there are, that will have the
root of it to be the greatness of mind. And, why may we not as well
entitle _impudence_ to _courage_, whereas the one is proud, the other
brave; the one is gracious and gentle, the other rude and furious?
At the same rate we may ascribe magnanimity to avarice, luxury, and
ambition, which are all but splendid impotences, without measure and
without foundation. There is nothing great but what is virtuous, nor
indeed truly great, but what is also composed and quiet. Anger, alas!
is but a wild impetuous blast, an empty tumor, the very infirmity of
woman and children; a brawling, clamorous evil: and the more noise the
less courage; as we find it commonly, that the boldest tongues have the
faintest hearts.



In the first place, Anger is _unwarrantable_ as it is _unjust_: for it
falls many times upon the wrong person, and discharges itself upon the
innocent instead of the guilty: beside the disproportion of making the
most trivial offences to be capital, and punishing an inconsiderate
word perhaps with torments, fetters, infamy, or death. It allows a man
neither time nor means for defence, but judges a cause without hearing
it, and admits of no mediation. It flies into the face of truth itself,
if it be of the adverse party; and turns obstinacy in an error, into
an argument of justice. It does every thing with agitation and tumult;
whereas reason and equity can destroy whole families, if there be
occasion for it, even to the extinguishing of their names and memories,
without any indecency, either of countenance or action.

Secondly, It is unsociable to the highest point; for it spares neither
friend nor foe; but tears all to pieces, and casts human nature into
a perpetual state of war. It dissolves the bond of mutual society,
insomuch that our very companions and relations dare not come near
us; it renders us unfit for the ordinary offices of life: for we can
neither govern our tongues, our hands, nor any part of our body. It
tramples upon the laws of hospitality, and of nations, leaves every man
to be his own carver, and all things, public and private, sacred and
profane, suffer violence.

Thirdly, It is to no purpose. “It is a sad thing,” we cry, “to put up
with these injuries, and we are not able to bear them;” as if any man
that can bear _anger_ could not bear an _injury_, which is much more
supportable. You will say that anger does some good yet, for it keeps
people in awe, and secures a man from contempt; never considering, that
it is more dangerous to be feared than despised. Suppose that an angry
man could do as much as he threatens; the more terrible, he is still
the more odious; and on the other side, if he wants power, he is the
more despicable for his anger; for there is nothing more wretched than
a choleric huff, that makes a noise, and nobody cares for it.

If anger would be valuable because men are afraid of it, why not an
adder, a toad, or a scorpion as well? It makes us lead the life of
gladiators; we live, and we fight together. We hate the happy, despise
the miserable, envy our superiors, insult our inferiors, and there
is nothing in the world which we will not do, either for pleasure
or profit. To be angry at offenders is to make ourselves the common
enemies of mankind, which is both weak and wicked; and we may as well
be angry that our thistles do not bring forth apples, or that every
pebble in our ground is not an oriental pearl. If we are angry both
with young men and with old, because they do offend, why not with
infants too, because they will offend? It is laudable to rejoice for
anything that is well done; but to be transported for another man’s
doing ill, is narrow and sordid. Nor is it for the dignity of virtue
to be either angry or sad.

It is with a tainted mind as with an ulcer, not only the touch, but the
very offer at it, makes us shrink and complain; when we come once to
be carried off from our poise, we are lost. In the choice of a sword,
we take care that it be wieldy and well mounted; and it concerns us as
much to be wary of engaging in the excesses of ungovernable passions.
It is not the speed of a horse altogether that pleases us unless we
find that he can stop and turn at pleasure. It is a sign of weakness,
and a kind of stumbling, for a man to run when he intends only to
walk; and it behoves us to have the same command of our mind that we
have of our bodies. Besides that the greatest punishment of an injury
is the conscience of having done it; and no man suffers more than he
that is turned over to the pain of a repentance. How much better is it
to compose injuries than to revenge them? For it does not only spend
time, but the revenge of one injury exposes to more. In fine, as it
is unreasonable to be angry at a crime, it is as foolish to be angry
without one.

But “may not an honest man then be allowed to be angry at the murder
of his father, or the ravishing of his sister or daughter before his
face?” No, not at all. I will defend my parents, and I will repay the
injuries that are done them; but it is my piety and not my anger, that
moves me to it. I will do my duty without fear or confusion, I will not
rage, I will not weep; but discharge the office of a good man without
forfeiting the dignity of a man. If my father be assaulted, I will
endeavor to rescue him; if he be killed, I will do right to his memory;
find all this, not in any transport of passion, but in honor and
conscience. Neither is there any need of anger where reason does the
same thing.

A man may be temperate, and yet vigorous, and raise his mind according
to the occasion, more or less, as a stone is thrown according to the
discretion and intent of the caster. How outrageous have I seen some
people for the loss of a monkey or a spaniel! And were it not a shame
to have the same sense for a friend that we have for a puppy; and to
cry like children, as much for a bauble as for the ruin of our country?
This is not the effect of reason, but of infirmity. For a man indeed to
expose his person for his prince, or his parents, or his friends, out
of a sense of honesty, and judgment of duty, it is, without dispute, a
worthy and a glorious action; but it must be done then with sobriety,
calmness, and resolution.

It is high time to convince the world of the indignity and uselessness
of this passion, when it has the authority and recommendation of no
less than Aristotle himself, as an affection very much conducing to all
heroic actions that require heat and vigor: now, to show, on the other
side, that it is not in any case profitable, we shall lay open the
obstinate and unbridled madness of it: a wickedness neither sensible
of infamy nor of glory, without either modesty or fear; and if it
passes once from anger into a hardened hatred, it is incurable. It is
either stronger than reason, or it is weaker. If stronger, there is
no contending with it; if weaker, reason will do the business without
it. Some will have it that an angry man is good-natured and sincere;
whereas, in truth, he only lays himself open out of heedlessness and
want of caution. If it were in itself good the more of it the better;
but in this case, the more the worse; and a wise man does his duty,
without the aid of anything that is ill. It is objected by some,
that those are the most generous creatures which are the most prone
to anger. But, first, _reason_ in _man_ is _impetuous_ in _beasts_.
Secondly, without discipline it runs into audaciousness and temerity;
over and above that, the same thing does not help all. If anger helps
the lion, it is fear that saves the stag, swiftness the hawk, and
flight the pigeon: but man has God for his example (who is never
angry) and not the _creatures_. And yet it is not amiss sometimes to
counterfeit anger; as upon the stage; nay, upon the bench, and in the
pulpit, where the imitation of it is more effectual than the thing

But it is a great error to take this passion either for a companion
or for an assistant to virtue; that makes a man incapable of those
necessary counsels by which virtue is to govern herself. Those are
false and inauspicious powers, and destructive of themselves, which
arise only from the accession and fervor of disease. Reason judges
according to right; anger will have every thing seem right, whatever it
does, and when it has once pitched upon a mistake, it is never to be
convinced, but prefers a pertinacity, even in the greatest evil, before
the most necessary repentance.

Some people are of opinion that anger inflames and animates the
soldier; that it is a spur to bold and arduous undertakings; and that
it were better to moderate than to wholly suppress it, for fear of
dissolving the spirit and force of the mind. To this I answer, that
virtue does not need the help of vice; but where there is any ardor
of mind necessary, we may rouse ourselves, and be more or less brisk
and vigorous as there is occasion: but all without anger still. It is
a mistake to say, that we may make use of anger as a common soldier,
but not as a commander; for if it hears reason, and follows orders,
it is not properly anger; and if it does not, it is contumacious
and mutinous. By this argument a man must be angry to be valiant;
covetous to be industrious; timorous to be safe, which makes our reason
confederate with our affections. And it is all one whether passion be
inconsiderate without reason, or reason ineffectual without passion;
since the one cannot be without the other. It is true, the less the
passion, the less is the mischief; for a little passion is the smaller
evil. Nay, so far is it from being of use or advantage in the field,
that it is in place of all others where it is the most dangerous;
for the actions of war are to be managed with order and caution, not
precipitation and fancy; whereas anger is heedless and heady, and the
virtue only of _barbarous nations_; which, though their bodies were
much stronger and more hardened, were still worsted by the moderation
and discipline of the Romans. There is not upon the face of the earth
a bolder or a more indefatigable nation than the Germans; not a braver
upon a charge, nor a hardier against colds and heats; their only
delights and exercise is in arms, to the utter neglect of all things
else: and, yet upon the encounter, they are broken and destroyed
through their own undisciplined temerity, even by the most effeminate
of men. The huntsman is not angry with the wild boar when he either
pursues or receives him; a good swordsman watches his opportunity, and
keeps himself upon his guard, whereas passion lays a man open: nay,
it is one of the prime lessons in a fencing-school to learn not to
be angry. If Fabius had been _choleric_, Rome had been _lost_; and
before he conquered _Hannibal_ he overcame _himself_. If Scipio had
been _angry_, he would never have left Hannibal and his army (who were
the proper objects of his displeasure) to carry the war into Afric
and so compass his end by a more temperate way. Nay, he was so slow,
that it was charged upon him for want of mettle and resolution. And
what did the _other_ Scipio? (Africanus I mean:) how much time did he
spend before Numantia, to the common grief both of his country and
himself? Though he reduced it at last by so miserable a famine, that
the inhabitants laid violent hands upon themselves, and left neither
man, woman, nor child, to survive the ruins of it. If anger makes a
man fight better, so does wine, frenzy, nay, and fear itself; for
the greatest coward in despair does the greatest wonders. No man is
courageous in his anger that was not so without it. But put the case,
that anger by accident may have done some good, and so have fevers
removed some distempers; but it is an odious kind of remedy that makes
us indebted to a disease for a cure. How many men have been preserved
by poison; by a fall from a precipice; by a shipwreck; by a tempest!
does it therefore follow that we are to recommend the practice of these

“But in case of an exemplary and prostitute dissolution of manners,
when Clodius shall be preferred, and Cicero rejected; when loyalty
shall be broken upon the wheel, and treason sit triumphant upon the
bench; is not this a subject to move the choler of any virtuous man?”
No, by no means, virtue will never allow of the correcting of one vice
by another; or that anger, which is the greater crime of the two,
should presume to punish the less. It is the natural property of
virtue to make a man serene and cheerful; and it is not for the dignity
of a philosopher to be transported either with grief or anger; and then
the end of anger is sorrow, the constant effect of disappointment and
repentance. But, to my purpose. If a man should be angry at wickedness,
the greater the wickedness is, the greater must be his anger; and, so
long as there is wickedness in the world he must never be pleased:
which makes his quiet dependent upon the humor or manners of others.

There passes not a day over our heads but he that is choleric shall
have some cause or other of displeasure, either from men, accidents,
or business. He shall never stir out of his house but he shall meet
with criminals of all sorts; prodigal, impudent, covetous, perfidious,
contentious, children persecuting their parents, parents cursing their
children, the innocent accused, the delinquent acquitted, and the judge
practicing that in his chamber which he condemns upon the bench. In
fine, wherever there are men there are faults; and upon these terms,
Socrates himself should never bring the same countenance home again
that he carried out with him.

If anger was sufferable in any case, it might be allowed against an
incorrigible criminal under the hand of justice: but punishment is
not matter of anger but of caution. The law is without passion, and
strikes malefactors as we do serpents and venomous creatures, for fear
of greater mischief. It is not for the dignity of a judge, when he
comes to pronounce the fatal sentence, to express any motions of anger
in his looks, words, or gestures: for he condemns the vice, not the
man; and looks upon the wickedness without anger, as he does upon the
prosperity of wicked men without envy. But though he be not angry, I
would have him a little moved in point of humanity; but yet without any
offence, either to his place or wisdom. Our passions vary, but reason
is equal; and it were a great folly for that which is stable, faithful,
and sound, to repair for succor to that which is uncertain, false, and
distempered. If the offender be incurable, take him out of the world,
that if he will not be good he may cease to be evil; but this must be
without anger too. Does any man hate an arm, or a leg, when he cuts
it off; or reckon _that_ a passion which is only a miserable cure? We
knock mad dogs on the head, and remove scabbed sheep out of the fold:
and this is not anger still, but reason, to separate the sick from
the sound. Justice cannot be angry; nor is there any need of an angry
magistrate for the punishment of foolish and wicked men. The power of
life and death must not be managed with passion. We give a horse the
spur that is restive or jadish, and tries to cast his rider; but this
is without anger too, and only to take down his stomach, and bring him,
by correction, to obedience.

It is true, that correction is necessary, yet within reason and bounds;
for it does not hurt, but profits us under an appearance of harm. Ill
dispositions in the mind are to be dealt with as those in the body: the
physician first tries purging and abstinence; if this will not do, he
proceeds to bleeding, nay, to dismembering rather than fail; for there
is no operation too severe that ends in health. The public magistrate
begins with persuasion, and his business is to beget a detestation for
vice, and a veneration for virtue; from thence, if need be, he advances
to admonition and reproach, and then to punishments; but moderate and
revocable, unless the wickedness be incurable, and then the punishment
must be so too. There is only this difference, the physician when he
cannot save his patient’s life, endeavors to make his death easy; but
the magistrate aggravates the death of the criminal with infamy and
disgrace; not as delighting in the severity of it, (for no good man
can be so barbarous) but for example, and to the end that they that
will do no good living may do some dead. The end of all correction is
either the amendment of wicked men, or to prevent the influence of
ill example: for men are punished with a respect to the future; not
to expiate offenses committed, but for fear of worse to come. Public
offenders must be a terror to others; but still, all this while, the
power of life and death must not be managed with passion. The medicine,
in the mean time must be suited to the disease; infamy cures one, pain
another, exile cures a third, beggary a fourth; but there are some that
are only to be cured by the gibbet. I would be no more angry with a
thief, or a traitor, than I am angry with myself when I open a vein.
All punishment is but a moral or civil remedy. I do not do anything
that is very ill, but yet I transgress often. Try me first with a
private reprehension, and then with a public; if that will not serve,
see what banishment will do; if not that neither, load me with chains,
lay me in prison: but if I should prove wicked for wickedness’ sake,
and leave no hope of reclaiming me, it would be a kind of mercy to
destroy me. Vice is incorporated with me; and there is no remedy but
the taking of both away together; but still without anger.



There is no surer argument of a great mind than not to be transported
to anger by any accident; the clouds and the tempests are formed below,
but all above is quiet and serene; which is the emblem of a brave man,
that suppresses all provocations, and lives within himself, modest,
venerable, and composed: whereas anger is a turbulent humor, which, at
first dash, casts off all shame, without any regard to order, measure,
or good manners; transporting a man into misbecoming violences with his
tongue, his hands, and every part of his body. And whoever considers
the foulness and the brutality of this vice, must acknowledge that
there is no such monster in Nature as one man raging against another,
and laboring to sink that which can never be drowned but with himself
for company. It renders us incapable either of discourse or of other
common duties. It is of all passions the most powerful; for it makes a
man that is in love to kill his mistress, the ambitious man to trample
upon his honors, and the covetous to throw away his fortune.

There is not any mortal that lives free from the danger of it; for it
makes even the heavy and the good-natured to be fierce and outrageous:
it invades us like a pestilence, the lusty as well as the weak; and
it is not either strength of body, or a good diet, that can secure
us against it; nay, the most learned, and men otherwise of exemplary
sobriety, are infected with it. It is so potent a passion that Socrates
durst not trust himself with it. “Sirrah,” says he to his man, “now
would I beat you, if I were not angry with you!” There is no age or
sect of men that escapes it. Other vices take us one by one; but this,
like an _epidemical contagion_, sweeps all: men, women, and children,
princes and beggars, are carried away with it in shoals and troops as
one man.

It was never seen that a whole nation was in love with one woman, or
unanimously bent upon one vice: but here and there some particular men
are tainted with some particular crimes; whereas in anger, a single
word many times inflames the whole multitude, and men betake themselves
presently to fire and sword upon it; the rabble take upon them to give
laws to their governors; the common soldiers to their officers, to the
ruin, not only of private families, but of kingdoms: turning their arms
against their own leaders, and choosing their own generals. There is
no public council, no putting things to the vote; but in a rage the
mutineers divide from the senate, name their head, force the nobility
in their own houses, and put them to death with their own hands.
The laws of nations are violated, the persons of public ministers
affronted, whole cities infected with a general madness, and no
respite allowed for the abatement or discussing of this public tumor.
The ships are crowded with tumultuary soldiers; and in this rude and
ill-boding manner they march, and act under the conduct only of their
own passions. Whatever comes next serves them for arms, until at last
they pay for their licentious rashness with the slaughter of the whole
party: this is the event of a heady and inconsiderate war.

When men’s minds are struck with the opinion of an injury, they fall on
immediately wheresoever their passion leads them, without either order,
fear, or caution: provoking their own mischief; never at rest till they
come to blows; and pursuing their revenge, even with their bodies,
upon the points of their enemies’ weapons. So that the anger itself is
much more hurtful for us than the injury that provokes it; for the one
is bounded, but where the other will stop, no man living knows. There
are no greater slaves certainly, than those that serve anger; for they
improve their misfortunes by an impatience more insupportable than the
calamity that causes it.

Nor does it rise by degrees, as other passions, but flashes like
gunpowder, blowing up all in a moment. Neither does it only press to
the mark, but overbears everything in the way to it. Other vices drive
us, but this hurries us headlong; other passions stand firm themselves,
though perhaps we cannot resist them; but this consumes and destroys
itself: it falls like thunder or a tempest, with an irrevocable
violence, that gathers strength in the passage, and then evaporates in
the conclusion. Other vices are unreasonable, but this is unhealthful
too; other distempers have their intervals and degrees, but in this
we are thrown down as from a precipice: there is not anything so
amazing to others, or so destructive to itself; so proud and insolent
if it succeeds, or so extravagant if it be disappointed. No repulse
discourages it, and, for want of other matter to work upon, it falls
foul upon itself; and, let the ground be never so trivial, it is
sufficient for the wildest outrage imaginable. It spares neither age,
sex, nor quality.

Some people would be luxurious perchance, but that they are poor; and
others lazy, if they were not perpetually kept at work. The simplicity
of a country life, keeps many men in ignorance of the frauds and
impieties of courts and camps: but no nation or condition of men is
exempt from the impressions of anger; and it is equally dangerous, as
well in war as in peace. We find that elephants will be made familiar;
bulls will suffer children to ride upon their backs, and play with
their horns; bears and lions, by good usage, will be brought to fawn
upon their masters; how desperate a madness is it then for men, after
the reclaiming of the fiercest of beasts, and the bringing of them
to be tractable and domestic, to become yet worse than beasts one to
another! Alexander had two friends, Clytus and Lysimachus; the one he
exposed to a lion, the other to himself; and he that was turned loose
to the beast escaped. Why do we not rather make the best of a short
life, and render ourselves amiable to all while we live, and desirable
when we die?

Let us bethink ourselves of our mortality, and not squander away the
little time that we have upon animosities and feuds, as if it were
never to be at an end. Had we not better enjoy the pleasure of our own
life than to be still contriving how to gall and torment another’s?
in all our brawlings and contentions never so much as dreaming of our
weakness. Do we not know that these implacable enmities of ours lie
at the mercy of a fever, or any petty accident, to disappoint? Our
fate is at hand, and the very hour that we have set for another man’s
death may peradventure be prevented by our own. What is it that we
make all this bustle for, and so needlessly disquiet our minds? We are
offended with our servants, our masters, our princes, our clients: it
is but a little patience, and we shall be all of us equal; so that
there is no need either of ambushes or of combats. Our wrath cannot
go beyond death; and death will most undoubtedly come whether we be
peevish or quiet. It is time lost to take pains to do that which will
infallibly be done without us. But suppose that we would only have our
enemy banished, disgraced, or damaged, let his punishment be more or
less, it is yet too long, either for him to be inhumanly tormented,
or for us ourselves to be most barbarously pleased with it. It holds
in anger as in mourning, it must and it will at last fall of itself;
let us look to it then betimes, for when it is once come to an ill
habit, we shall never want matter to feed it; and it is much better to
overcome our passions than to be overcome by them. Some way or other,
either our parents, children, servants, acquaintance, or strangers,
will be continually vexing us. We are tossed hither and thither by our
affections, like a feather in a storm, and by fresh provocations the
madness becomes perpetual. Miserable creatures! that ever our precious
hours should be so ill employed! How prone and eager are we in our
hatred, and how backward in our love! Were it not much better now to
be making of friendships, pacifying of enemies, doing of good offices
both public and private, than to be still meditating of mischief, and
designing how to wound one man in his fame, another in his fortune, a
third in his person? the one being so easy, innocent, and safe, and the
other so difficult, impious, and hazardous. Nay, take a man in chains,
and at the foot of his oppressor; how many are there, who, even in this
case, have maimed themselves in the heat of their violence upon others.

This untractable passion is much more easily kept out than governed
when it is once admitted; for the stronger will give laws to the
weaker; and make reason a slave to the appetite. It carries us
headlong; and in the course of our fury, we have no more command of
our minds, than we have of our bodies down a precipice: when they are
once in motion, there is no stop until they come to the bottom. Not but
that it is possible for a man to be warm in winter, and not to sweat
in the summer, either by the benefit of the place, or the hardiness of
the body: and in like manner we may provide against anger. But certain
it is, that virtue and vice can never agree in the same subject; and
one may as well be a sick man and a sound at the same time, as a good
man, and an angry. Besides, if we will needs be quarrelsome, it must
be either with our superior, our equal, or inferior. To contend with
our superior is folly and madness: with our equals, it is doubtful and
dangerous: and with our inferiors, it is base. For does any man know
but that he that is now our enemy may come hereafter to be our friend,
over and above the reputation of clemency and good nature? And what
can be more honorable or comfortable, than to exchange a feud for a
friendship? The people of Rome never had more faithful allies than
those that were at first the most obstinate enemies; neither had the
_Roman Empire_ ever arrived at that height of power, if Providence had
not mingled the vanquished with the conquerors.

There is an end of the contest when one side deserts it; so that
the paying of anger with benefits puts a period to the controversy.
But, however, if it be our fortune to transgress, let not our anger
descend to the children, friends or relations, even of our bitterest
enemies. The very cruelty of Sylla was heightened by that instance of
incapacitating the issue of the proscribed. It is inhuman to entail the
hatred we have for the father upon his posterity.

A good and a wise man is not to be an _enemy_ of wicked men, but a
_reprover_ of them; and he is to look upon all the drunkards, the
lustful, the thankless, covetous, and ambitious, that he meets with,
not otherwise than as a physician looks upon his patients; for he that
will be angry with _any man_ must be displeased with _all_; which were
as ridiculous as to quarrel with a body for stumbling in the dark; with
one that is deaf, for not doing as you bid him; or with a school-boy
for loving his play better than his book. Democritus _laughed_, and
Heraclitus _wept_, at the folly and wickedness of the world, but we
never read of any _angry philosopher_.

This is undoubtedly the most detestable of vices, even compared with
the worst of them. Avarice scrapes and gathers together that which
somebody may be the better for: but anger lashes out, and no man comes
_off_ gratis. An angry master makes one servant run away, and another
hang himself; and his choler causes him a much greater loss than he
suffered in the occasion of it. It is the cause of mourning to the
father, and of divorce to the husband: it makes the magistrate odious,
and gives the candidate a repulse. And it is worse than luxury too,
which only aims at its proper pleasure; whereas the other is bent upon
another body’s pain.

The malevolent and the envious content themselves only to _wish_
another man miserable; but it is the business of anger to _make_ him
so, and to wreck the mischief itself; not so much desiring the hurt
of another, as to inflict it. Among the powerful, it breaks out into
open war, and into a private one with the common people, but without
force or arms. It engages us in treacheries, perpetual troubles and
contentions: it alters the very nature of a man, and punishes itself in
the persecution of others. Humanity excites us to love, this to hatred;
that to be beneficial to others, this to hurt them: beside, that,
though it proceeds from too high a conceit of ourselves, it is yet, in
effect, but a narrow and contemptible affection; especially when it
meets with a mind that is hard and impenetrable, and returns the dart
upon the head of him that casts it.

To take a farther view, now, of the miserable consequences and
sanguinary effects of this hideous distemper; from hence come
slaughters and poisons, wars, and desolations, the razing and burning
of cities; the unpeopling of nations, and the turning of populous
countries into deserts, public massacres and regicides; princes led in
triumph; some murdered in their bed-chambers; others stabbed in the
senate or cut off in the security of their spectacles and pleasures.
Some there are that take anger for a princely quality; as Darius,
who, in his expedition against the Scythians, being besought by a
nobleman, that had three sons, that he would vouchsafe to accept
of two of them into his service, and leave the third at home for a
comfort to his father. “I will do more for you than that,” says Darius,
“for you shall have them all three again;” so he ordered them to be
slain before his face, and left him their bodies. But Xerxes dealt a
little better with Pythius, who had five sons, and desired only one of
them for himself. Xerxes bade him take his choice, and he named the
_eldest_, whom he immediately commanded to be cut in halves; and one
half of the body to be laid on each side of the way when his army was
to pass betwixt them; undoubtedly a most auspicious sacrifice; but he
came afterward to the end that he deserved; for he lived to see that
prodigious power scattered and broken: and instead of military and
victorious troops, to be encompassed with carcasses. But these, you
will say, were only barbarous princes that knew neither civility nor
letters; and these savage cruelties will be imputed perchance to their
rudeness of manners, and want of discipline. But what will you say then
of Alexander the Great, that was trained up under the institution of
Aristotle himself, and killed Clytus, his favorite and schoolfellow,
with his _own hand_, under his _own roof_, and _over the freedom of a
cup of wine_? And what was his crime? He was loth to degenerate from a
Macedonian _liberty_ into a Persian _slavery_; that is to say, he could
not _flatter_.

Lysimachus, another of his friends, he exposed to a lion; and this
very Lysimachus, after he had escaped this danger, was never the more
merciful when he came to reign himself; for he cut off the ears and
nose of his friend Telesphorous; and when he had so disfigured him
that he had no longer the face of a man, he threw him into a dungeon,
and there kept him to be showed for a monster, as a strange sight.
The place was so low that he was fain to creep upon all fours, and
his sides were galled too with the straitness of it. In this misery
he lay half-famished in his own filth; so odious, so terrible, and
so loathsome a spectacle, that the horror of his condition had even
extinguished all pity for him. “Nothing was ever so unlike a mar as the
poor wretch that suffered this, saving the tyrant that acted it.”

Nor did this merciless hardness only exercise itself among foreigners,
but the fierceness of their outrages and punishments, as well as their
vices, brake in upon the Romans. C. Marius, that had his statue set up
everywhere, and was adored as a God, L. Sylla commanded his bones to be
broken, his eyes to be pulled out, his hands to be cut off; and, as if
every wound had been a several death, his body to be torn to pieces,
and Catiline was the executioner. A _cruelty_ that was only fit for
Marius to _suffer_, Sylla to _command_, and Catiline to _act_; but most
dishonorable and fatal to the commonwealth, to fall indifferently upon
the sword’s point both of citizens and of enemies.

It was a severe instance, that of Piso too. A soldier that had leave
to go abroad with his comrade, came back to the camp at his time,
but without his companion. Piso condemned him to die, as if he had
killed him, and appoints a centurion to see the execution. Just as the
headsman was ready to do his office, the other soldier appeared, to the
great joy of the whole field, and the centurion bade the executioner
hold his hand. Hereupon Piso, in a rage, mounts the _tribunal_, and
sentences all three to death: the one because he was _condemned_,
the _other_ because it was for _his sake_ that his fellow-soldier
was _condemned_, the _centurion_ for not obeying the _order_ of his
_superior_. An ingenious piece of inhumanity, to contrive how to make
three criminals, where effectively there were none.

There was a Persian king that caused the noses of a whole nation to
be cut off, and they were to thank him that he spared their heads.
And this, perhaps, would have been the fate of the Macrobii, (if
Providence had not hindered it,) for the freedom they used to Cambyses’
ambassadors, in not accepting the slavish terms that were offered
them. This put Cambyses into such a rage, that he presently listed
into his service every man that was able to bear arms; and, without
either provisions or guides, marched immediately through dry and barren
deserts, and where never any man had passed before him, to take his
revenge. Before he was a third part of the way, his provisions failed
him. His men, at first, made shift with the buds of trees, boiled
leather, and the like; but soon after there was not so much as a root
or a plant to be gotten, nor a living creature to be seen; and then by
lot every tenth man was to die for a nourishment to the rest, which was
still worse than the famine. But yet this passionate king went on so
far, until one part of his army was lost, and the other devoured, and
until he feared that he himself might come to be served with the same
sauce. So that at last he ordered a retreat, wanting no delicates all
this while for himself, while his soldiers were taking their chance who
should die miserably, or live worse. Here was an anger taken up against
a whole nation, that neither deserved any ill from him, nor was so much
as known to him.



In this wandering state of life we meet with many occasions of trouble
and displeasure, both great and trivial; and not a day passes but, from
men or things, we have some cause or other for offense; as a man must
expect to be jostled, dashed, and crowded, in a populous city. One
man deceives our expectation; another delays it; and a third crosses
it; and if everything does not succeed to our wish, we presently fall
out either with the person, the business, the place, our fortune, or
ourselves. Some men value themselves upon their wit, and will never
forgive anyone that pretends to lessen it; others are inflamed by wine:
and some are distempered by sickness, weariness, watchings, love, care,
etc. Some are prone to it, by heat of constitution; but moist, dry, and
cold complexions are more liable to other affections; as suspicion,
despair, fear, jealousy, etc. But most of our quarrels are of our own
contriving. One while we suspect upon mistake; and another while we
make a great matter of trifles. To say the truth, most of those things
that exasperate us are rather subjects of disgust than of mischief:
there is a large difference betwixt opposing a man’s satisfaction
and not assisting it: betwixt _taking away_ and _not giving_; but we
reckon upon _denying_ and _deferring_ as the same thing; and interpret
another’s being _for himself_ as if he were _against us_. Nay, we do
many times entertain an ill opinion of well doing, and a good one of
the contrary: and we hate a man for doing that very thing which we
should hate him for on the other side, if he did not do it.

We take it ill to be opposed when there is a father perhaps, a brother,
or a friend, in the case against us; when we should rather love a
man for it; and only wish that he could be honestly of our party. We
approve of the fact, and detest the doer of it. It is a base thing to
hate the person whom we cannot but commend; but it is a great deal
worse yet if we hate him for the very thing that deserves commendation.
The things that we desire, if they be such as cannot be given to one
without being taken away from another, must needs set those people
together by the ears that desire the same thing. One man has a design
upon my mistress, another upon mine inheritance; and that which should
make friends makes enemies, our being all of a mind. The general cause
of anger is the sense or opinion of an _injury_; that is, the opinion
either of an injury simply done, or of an injury done, which we have
not deserved. Some are naturally given to anger, others are provoked
to it by occasion; the anger of women and children is commonly sharp,
but not lasting: old men are rather querulous and peevish. Hard labor,
diseases, anxiety of thought, and whatsoever hurts the body or the
mind, disposes a man to be froward, but we must not add fire to fire.

He that duly considers the subject-matter of all our controversies
and quarrels, will find them low and mean, not worth the thought of
a generous mind; but the greatest noise of all is about _money_. This
is it that sets fathers and children together by the ears, husbands
and wives; and makes way for sword and poison. This is it that tires
out courts of justice, enrages princes, and lays cities in the dust,
to seek for gold and silver in the ruins of them. This is it that
finds work for the judge to determine which side is least in the
wrong; and whose is the more plausible avarice, the plaintiff’s or the
defendant’s. And what is it that we contend for all this while, but
those baubles that make us cry when we should laugh? To see a rich
old cuff, that has nobody to leave his estate to, break his heart
for a handful of dirt; and a gouty usurer, that has no other use of
his fingers left him but to count withal; to see him, I say in the
extremity of his fit, wrangling for the odd money in his interest. If
all that is precious in Nature were gathered into one mass, it were
not worth the trouble of a sober mind. It were endless to run over all
those ridiculous passions that are moved about meats and drinks, and
the matter of our luxury; nay, about words, looks, actions, jealousies,
mistakes, which are all of them as contemptible fooleries as those very
baubles that children scratch and cry for. There is nothing great or
serious in all that which we keep such a clutter about; the madness
of it is, that we set too great a value upon trifles. One man flies
out upon a salute, a letter, a speech, a question, a gesture, a wink,
a look. An action moves one man; a word affects another; one man is
tender of his family; another of his person; one sets up for an orator,
another for a philosopher: this man will not bear pride, nor that man
opposition. He that plays the tyrant at home, is gentle as a lamb
abroad. Some take offense if a man ask a favor of them, and others, if
he does not. Every man has his weak side; let us learn which that is,
and take a care of it; for the same thing does not work upon all men
alike. We are moved like beasts at the idle appearances of things, and
the fiercer the creature, the more is it startled. The sight of a red
coat enrages a bull; a shadow provokes the asp; nay, so unreasonable
are some men, that they take moderate benefits for injuries, and
squabble about it with their nearest relations: “They have done this
and that for others,” they cry; “and they might have dealt better with
us if they had pleased.” Very good! and if it be less than we looked
for, it may be yet more than we deserve. Of all unquiet humors this
is the worst, that will never suffer any man to be happy, so long as
he sees a happier man than himself. I have known some men so weak as
to think themselves contemned if a horse did but play the jade with
_them_, that is yet obedient to _another rider_. A brutal folly to be
offended at a mute animal; for no injury can be done us without the
concurrence of reason. A beast may hurt us, as a sword or a stone, and
no otherwise. Nay, there are that will complain of “foul weather, a
raging sea, a biting winter,” as if it were expressly directed to them;
and this they charge upon Providence, whose operations are all of them
so far from being injurious, that they are beneficial to us.

How vain and idle are many of those things that make us stark mad! A
resty horse, the overturning of a glass, the falling of a key, the
dragging of a chair, a jealousy, a misconstruction. How shall that
man endure the extremities of hunger and thirst that flies out into a
rage for putting of a little too much water in his wine? What haste
is there to lay a servant by the heels, or break a leg or an arm
immediately for it, as if he were not to have the same power over him
an hour after, that he has at that instant? The answer of a servant, a
wife, a tenant, puts some people out of all patience; and yet they can
quarrel with the government, for not allowing them the same liberty in
public, which they themselves deny to their own families. If they say
nothing, it is contumacy: if they speak or laugh, it is insolence. As
if a man had his ears given him only for music; whereas we must suffer
all sorts of noises, good and bad, both of man and beast. How idle
is it to start at the tinkling of a bell, or the creaking of a door,
when, for all this delicacy, we must endure thunder! Neither are our
eyes less curious and fantastical than our ears. When we are abroad, we
can bear well enough with foul ways, nasty streets, noisome ditches;
but a spot upon a dish at home, or an unswept hearth, absolutely
distracts us. And what is the reason, but that we are patient in the
one place, and fantastically peevish in the other? Nothing makes us
more intemperate than luxury, that shrinks at every stroke, and starts
at every shadow. It is death to some to have another sit above them,
as if a body were ever the more or the less honest for the cushion.
But they are only weak creatures that think themselves wounded if they
be but touched. One of the Sybarites, that saw a fellow hard at work a
digging, desired him to give over, for it made him weary to see him:
and it was an ordinary complaint with him, that “he could take no
rest because the rose-leaves lay double under him.” When we are once
weakened with our pleasures, everything grows intolerable. And we are
angry as well with those things that cannot hurt us as with those that
do. We tear a book because it is blotted; and our clothes, because
they are not well made: things that neither deserve our anger nor feel
it: the tailor, perchance, did his best, or, however, had no intent to
displease us: if so, first, why should we be angry at all? Secondly,
why should we be angry with the thing for the man’s sake? Nay, our
anger extends even to dogs, horses, and other beasts.

It was a blasphemous and a sottish extravagance, that of Caius Cæsar,
who challenged Jupiter for making such a noise with his _thunder_, that
he could not hear his mimics, and so invented a machine in imitation
of it to oppose _thunder_ to _thunder_; a brutal conceit, to imagine,
either that he could reach the Almighty, or that the Almighty could not
reach him!

And every jot as ridiculous, though not so impious, was that of Cyrus;
who, in his design upon Babylon, found a river in his way that put a
stop to his march: the current was strong, and carried away one of the
horses that belonged to his own chariot: upon this he swore, that since
it had obstructed _his_ passage, it should never hinder any body’s
else; and presently set his whole army to work upon it, which diverted
it into a hundred and fourscore channels, and laid it dry. In this
ignoble and unprofitable employment he lost his time, and the soldiers
their courage, and gave his adversaries an opportunity of providing
themselves, while he was waging war with a river instead of an enemy.



Of provocations to anger there are two sorts; there is an _injury_,
and there is a _contumely_. The former in its own nature is the
heavier; the other slight in itself, and only troublesome to a wounded
imagination. And yet some there are that will bear blows, and death
itself, rather than contumelious words. A contumely is an indignity
below the consideration of the very law; and not worthy either of
a revenge, or so much as a complaint. It is only the vexation and
infirmity of a weak mind, as well as the practice of a haughty and
insolent nature, and signifies no more to a wise and sober man than
an idle dream, that is no sooner past than forgotten. It is true, it
implies contempt; but what needs any man care for being contemptible
to others, if he be not so to himself? For a child in the arms to
strike the mother, tear her hair, claw the face of her, and call her
names, that goes for nothing with us, because the child knows not what
he does. Neither are we moved at the impudence and bitterness of a
_buffoon_, though he fall upon his own master as well as the guests;
but, on the contrary, we encourage and entertain the freedom.

Are we not mad then, to be delighted and displeased with the same
thing, and to take that as an _injury_ from one man, which passes only
for a _raillery_ from another? He that is wise will behave himself
toward all men as we do to our children; for they are but children
too, though they have gray hairs: they are indeed of a larger size,
and their errors are grown up with them; they live without rule, they
covet without choice, they are timorous and unsteady; and if at any
time they happen to be quiet, it is more out of fear than reason. It
is a wretched condition to stand in awe of everybody’s tongue; and
whosoever is vexed at a reproach would be proud if he were commended.
We should look upon contumelies, slanders, and ill words, only as the
clamor of enemies, or arrows shot at a distance, that make a clattering
upon our arms, but do no execution. A man makes himself less than his
adversary by fancying that he is contemned. Things are only ill that
are ill taken; and it is not for a man of worth to think himself better
or worse for the opinion of others. He that thinks himself injured, let
him say, “Either I have deserved this, or I have not. If I have, it is
a judgment; if I have not, it is an injustice: and the doer of it has
more reason to be ashamed than the sufferers.”

Nature has assigned every man his post, which he is bound in honor to
maintain, let him be never so much pressed. Diogenes was disputing of
anger, and an insolent young fellow, to try if he could put him beside
his philosophy, spit in his face: “Young man,” says Diogenes, “this
does not make me angry yet; but I am in some doubt whether I should be
so or not.” Some are so impatient that they cannot bear a contumely,
even from a woman; whose very beauty, greatness, and ornaments, are all
of them little enough to vindicate her from any indecencies, without
much modesty and discretion; nay, they will lay it to heart even from
the meanest of servants. How wretched is that man whose peace lies at
the mercy of the people?

A physician is not angry at the intemperance of a mad patient; nor does
he take it ill to be railed at by a man in a fever; just so should a
wise man treat all mankind as a physician does his patient; and looking
upon them only as sick and extravagant, let their words and actions,
whether good or bad, go equally for nothing, attending still his duty
even in the coarsest offices that may conduce to their recovery. Men
that are proud, froward, and powerful, he values their scorn as little
as their quality, and looks upon them no otherwise than as people in
the excess of a fever. If a beggar worships him, or if he takes no
notice of him, it is all one to him; and with a rich man he makes it
the same case. Their honors and their injuries he accounts much alike;
without rejoicing at the one, or grieving at the other.

In these cases, the rule is to pardon all offenses, where there is any
sign of repentance, or hope of amendment. It does not hold in injuries
as in benefits, the requiting of the one with the other; for it is
a shame to overcome in the one, and in the other to be overcome. It
is the part of a great mind to despise injuries; and it is one kind
of revenge to neglect a man as not worth it: for it makes the first
aggressor too considerable. Our philosophy, methinks, might carry us
up to the bravery of a generous mastiff, that can hear the barking of
a thousand curs without taking any notice of them. He that receives
an injury from his superior, it is not enough for him to bear it with
patience, and without any thought of revenge, but he must receive it
with a cheerful countenance, and look as if he did not understand it
too; for if he appear too sensible, he shall be sure to have more of
it. “It is a damned humor in great men, that whom they wrong they will

It is well answered of an old courtier, that was asked how he kept
so long in favor? “Why,” says he, “by receiving injuries, and crying
your humble servant for them.” Some men take it for an argument of
greatness to have revenge in their power; but so far is he that is
under the dominion of anger from being great, that he is not so much
as free. Not but that anger is a kind of pleasure to some in the act
of revenge; but the very _word_ is _inhuman_, though it may pass for
_honest_. “Virtue,” in short, “is impenetrable, and revenge is only the
confession of an infirmity.”

It is a fantastical humor, that the same jest in private should make us
merry, and yet enrage us in public; nay, we will not allow the liberty
that we take. Some railleries we account pleasant, others bitter: a
conceit upon a _squint-eye_, a _hunch-back_, or any personal defect,
passes for a reproach. And why may we not as well hear it as see it?
Nay, if a man imitates our gait, speech, or any natural imperfection,
it puts us out of all patience; as if the counterfeit were more
grievous than the doing of the thing itself. Some cannot endure to
hear of their age, nor others of their poverty; and they make the
thing the more taken notice of the more they desire to hide it. Some
bitter jest (for the purpose) was broken upon you at the table: keep
better company then. In the freedom of cups, a sober man will hardly
contain himself within bounds. It sticks with us extremely sometimes,
that the porter will not let us in to his great master. Will any but a
madman quarrel with a cur for barking, when he may pacify him with a
crust? What have we to do but to keep further off, and laugh at him?
Fidus Cornelius (a tall slim fellow) fell downright a-crying in the
senate-house at Corbulo’s saying that “he looked like an ostrich.”
He was a man that made nothing of a lash upon his life and manners;
but it was worse than death to him a reflection upon his person. No
man was ever ridiculous to others that laughed at himself first: it
prevents mischief, and it is a spiteful disappointment of those that
take pleasure in such abuses. Vatinius, (a man that was made up for
scorn and hatred, scurrilous and impudent to the highest degree, but
most abusively witty and with all this he was diseased, and deformed to
extremity), his way, was always to make sport with himself, and so he
prevented the mockeries of other people. There are none more abusive
to others than they that lie most open to it themselves; but the humor
goes round, and he that laughs at me to-day will have somebody to laugh
at him to-morrow, and revenge my quarrel. But, however, there are some
liberties that will never go down with some men.

Asiaticus Valerius, (one of Caligula’s particular friends, and a man of
stomach, that would not easily digest an affront) Caligula told him in
public what kind of bedfellow his wife was. Good God! that ever any man
should hear this, or a prince speak it, especially to a man of consular
authority, a friend, and a husband: and in such a manner too as at once
to own his disgust and his adultery. The tribune Chæreas had a weak
broken voice, like an hermaphrodite; when he came to Caligula for the
_word_, he would give him sometimes _Venus_, otherwhiles _Priapus_,
as a slur upon him both ways. Valerius was afterwards the principal
instrument in the conspiracy against him; and Chæreas, to convince him
of his manhood, at one blow cleft him down the chin with his sword.
No man was so forward as Caligula to _break_ a jest, and no man so
unwilling to _bear_ it.



All that we have to say in particular upon this subject lies under
these two heads: first, that we do not _fall_ into anger; and secondly,
that we do not _transgress in it_. As in the case of our bodies, we
have some medicines to preserve us when we are well, and others to
recover us when we are sick; so it is one thing not to admit it, and
another thing to overcome it. We are, in the first place, to avoid all
provocations, and the beginnings of anger: for if we be once down, it
is a hard task to get up again. When our passion has got the better of
our reason, and the enemy is received into the gate, we cannot expect
that the conqueror should take conditions from the prisoner. And, in
truth, our reason, when it is thus mastered, turns effectually into
passion. A careful education is a great matter; for our minds are
easily formed in our youth, but it is a harder business to cure ill
habits: beside that, we are inflamed by climate, constitution, company,
and a thousand other accidents, that we are not aware of.

The choice of a good nurse, and a well-natured tutor, goes a great
way: for the sweetness both of the blood and of the manners will
pass into the child. There is nothing breeds anger more than a soft
and effeminate education; and it is very seldom seen that either
the mother’s or the school-master’s darling ever comes to good. But
_my young master_, when he comes into the world, behaves himself
like a choleric coxcomb; for flattery, and a great fortune, nourish
touchiness. But it is a nice point so to check the seeds of anger in
a child as not to take off his edge, and quench his spirits; whereof
a principal care must be taken betwixt license and severity, that he
be neither too much emboldened nor depressed. Commendation gives him
courage and confidence; but then the danger is, of blowing him up
into insolence and wrath: so that when to use the bit, and when the
spur, is the main difficulty. Never put him to a necessity of begging
anything basely: or if he does, let him go without it. Inure him to
a familiarity where he has any emulation; and in all his exercises
let him understand that it is generous to overcome his competitor,
but not to hurt him. Allow him to be pleased when he does well, but
not transported; for that will puff him up into too high a conceit
of himself. Give him nothing that he cries for till the dogged fit
is over, but then let him have it when he is quiet; to show him that
there is nothing to be gotten by being peevish. Chide him for whatever
he does amiss, and make him betimes acquainted with the fortune that
he was born to. Let his diet be cleanly, but sparing; and clothe him
like the rest of his fellows: for by placing him upon that equality at
first, he will be the less proud afterward: and, consequently the less
waspish and quarrelsome.

In the next place, let us have a care of temptations that we cannot
resist, and provocations that we cannot bear; and especially of sour
and exceptious company: for a cross humor is contagious. Nor is it all
that a man shall be the better for the example of a quiet conversation;
but an angry disposition is troublesome, because it has nothing else to
work upon. We should therefore choose a sincere, easy, and temperate
companion, that will neither provoke anger nor return it; nor give a
man any occasion of exercising his distempers. Nor is it enough to be
gentle, submissive, and humane, without integrity and plain-dealing;
for flattery is as offensive on the other side. Some men would take a
curse from you better than a compliment. Cælius, a passionate orator,
had a friend of singular patience that supped with him, who had no
way to avoid a quarrel but by saying _amen_ to all that Cælius said.
Cælius, taking this ill: “Say something against me,” says he, “that you
and I may be two;” and he was angry with him because he would not: but
the dispute fell, as it needs must, for want of an opponent.

He that is naturally addicted to anger, let him use a moderate diet,
and abstain from wine; for it is but adding fire to fire. Gentle
exercises, recreations, and sports, temper and sweeten the mind. Let
him have a care also of long and obstinate disputes; for it is easier
not to begin them than to put an end to them. Severe studies are not
good for him either, as _law_, _mathematics_; too much attention preys
upon the spirits, and makes him eager: but _poetry_, _history_ and
those lighter entertainments, may serve him for diversion and relief.
He that would be quiet, must not venture at things out of his reach,
or beyond his strength; for he shall either stagger under the burden,
or discharge it upon the next man he meets; which is the same case in
civil and domestic affairs. Business that is ready and practicable
goes off with ease; but when it is too heavy for the bearer, they fall
both together. Whatsoever we design, we should first take a measure of
ourselves, and compare our force with the undertaking; for it vexes
a man not to go through with his work: a repulse inflames a generous
nature, as it makes one that is _phlegmatic_, _sad_. I have known
some that have advised looking in a glass when a man is in the fit,
and the very spectacle of his own deformity has cured him. Many that
are troublesome in their drink, and know their own infirmity, give
their servant order beforehand to take them away by force for fear
of mischief, and not to obey their masters themselves when they are
hot-headed. If the thing were duly considered we should need no other
cure than the bare consideration of it. We are not angry at madmen,
children, and fools, because they do not know what they do: and why
should not imprudence have an equal privilege in other cases? If a
horse kick, or a dog bite, shall a man kick or bite again? The one,
it is true, is wholly void of reason, but it is also an equivalent
darkness of mind that possesses the other. So long as we are among
men, let us cherish humanity, and so live that no man may be either in
fear or in danger of us. Losses, injuries, reproaches, calumnies, they
are but short inconveniences, and we should bear them with resolution.
Beside that, some people are above our anger, others below it. To
contend with our superiors were a folly, and with our inferiors an

There is hardly a more effectual remedy against anger than patience
and consideration. Let but the first fervor abate, and that mist which
darkens the mind will be either lessened or dispelled; a day, nay,
an hour, does much in the most violent cases, and perchance totally
suppresses it; time discovers the truth of things, and turns that
into judgment which at first was anger. Plato was about to strike his
servant, and while his hand was in the air, he checked himself, but
still held it in that menacing posture. A friend of his took notice of
it, and asked him what he meant? “I am now,” says Plato, “punishing of
an angry man;” so that he had left his servant to chastise himself.
Another time his servant having committed a great fault: “Speusippus,”
says he, “do you beat that fellow, for I am angry,” so that he forebore
striking him for the very reason that would have made another man have
done it. “I am angry,” says he, “and shall go further than becomes me.”
Nor is it fit that a servant should be in his power that is not his
own master. Why should any one venture now to trust an angry man with
a revenge, when Plato durst not trust himself? Either he must govern
that, or that will undo him. Let us do our best to overcome it, but let
us, however, keep it close, without giving it any vent. An angry man,
if he gives himself liberty at all times, will go too far. If it comes
once to show itself in the eye or countenance, it has got the better
of us. Nay, we should so oppose it as to put on the very contrary
dispositions; calm looks, soft and slow speech, an easy and deliberate
march, and by little and little, we may possibly bring our thoughts
into sober conformity with our actions. When Socrates was angry, he
would take himself in it, and _speak low_, in opposition to the motions
of his displeasure. His friends would take notice of it; and it was
not to his disadvantage neither, but rather to his credit, that so
many should _know_ that he was angry, and nobody _feel_ it; which
could not have been, if he had not given his friends the same liberty
of admonition which he himself took. And this course should we take;
we should desire our friends not to flatter us in our follies, but to
treat us with all liberties of reprehension, even when we are least
willing to bear it, against so powerful and so insinuating an evil;
we should call for help while we have our eyes in our head, and are
yet masters of ourselves. Moderation is profitable for subjects, but
more for princes, who have the means of executing all that their anger
prompts them to. When that power comes once to be exercised to a common
mischief, it can never long continue; a common fear joining in one
cause all their divided complaints. In a word now, how we may prevent,
moderate, or master this impotent passion in others.

It is not enough to be sound ourselves, unless we endeavor to make
others so, wherein we must accommodate the remedy to the temper of the
patient. Some are to be dealt with by artifice and address: as, for
example, “Why will you gratify your enemies to show yourself so much
concerned? It is not worth your anger: it is below you: I am as much
troubled at it myself as you can be; but you had better say nothing,
and take your time to be even with them.” Anger in some people is to be
openly opposed; in others, there must be a little yielding, according
to the disposition of the person. Some are won by entreaties, others
are gained by mere shame and conviction, and some by delay; a dull way
of cure for a violent distemper, but this must be the last experiment.
Other affections may be better dealt with at leisure; for they proceed
gradually: but this commences and perfects itself in the same moment.
It does not, like other passions, solicit and mislead us, but it runs
away with us by force, and hurries us on with an irresistible temerity,
as well to our own as to another’s ruin: not only flying in the face
of him that provokes us, but like a torrent, bearing down all before
it. There is no encountering the first heat and fury of it: for it is
deaf and mad, the best way is (in the beginning) to give it time and
rest, and let it spend itself: while the passion is too hot to handle,
we may deceive it; but, however, let all instruments of revenge be
put out of the way. It is not amiss sometimes to pretend to be angry
too; and join with him, not only in the opinion of the injury, but in
the seeming contrivance of a revenge. But this must be a person then
that has some authority over him. This is a way to get time, and, by
advising upon some greater punishment to delay the present. If the
passion be outrageous, try what shame or fear can do. If weak, it is no
hard matter to amuse it by strange stories, grateful news, or pleasant
discourses. Deceit, in this case, is friendship; for men must be
cozened to be cured.

The injuries that press hardest upon us are those which either we
have not deserved, or not expected, or, at least, not in so high a
degree. This arises from the love of ourselves: for every man takes
upon him, like a prince, in this case, to practice all liberties, and
to allow none, which proceeds either from ignorance or insolence. What
news is it for people to do ill things? for an enemy to hurt us; nay,
for a friend or a servant to transgress, and to prove treacherous,
ungrateful, covetous, impious? What we find in one man we may in
another, and there is more security in fortune than in men. Our joys
are mingled with fear, and a tempest may arise out of a calm; but a
skilful pilot is always provided for it.



It is good for every man to fortify himself on his weak side: and
if he loves his peace he must not be inquisitive, and hearken to
tale-bearers; for the man that is over-curious to hear and see
everything, multiplies troubles to himself: for a man does not
feel what he does not know. He that is listening after private
discourse, and what people say of him, shall never be at peace. How
many things that are innocent in themselves are made injuries yet by
misconstruction! Wherefore, some things we are to pause upon, others to
laugh at, and others again to pardon. Or, if we cannot avoid the sense
of indignities, let us however shun the open profession of it, which
may easily be done, as appears by many examples of those that have
suppressed their anger under the awe of a greater fear. It is a good
caution not to believe any thing until we are very certain of it; for
many probable things prove false, and a short time will make evidence
of the undoubted truth. We are prone to believe many things which
we are willing to hear, and so we conclude, and take up a prejudice
before we can judge. Never condemn a friend unheard; or without letting
him know his accuser, or his crime. It is a common thing to say, “Do
not you tell that you had it from me: for if you do, I will deny
it, and never tell you any thing again:” by which means friends are
set together by the ears, and the informer slips his neck out of the
collar. Admit no stories upon these terms: for it is an unjust thing
to believe in private and to be angry openly. He that delivers himself
up to guess and conjecture runs a great hazard; for there can be no
suspicion without some probable grounds; so that without much candor
and simplicity, and making the best of every thing, there is no living
in society with mankind. Some things that offend us we have by report;
others we see or hear. In the first case, let us not be too credulous:
some people frame stories that they may deceive us; others only tell
what they hear, and are deceived themselves: some make it their sport
to do ill offices, others do them only to pick a thank: there are some
that would part the dearest friends in the world; others love to do
mischief, and stand aloof off to see what comes of it. If it be a small
matter, I would have witnesses; but if it be a greater, I would have
it upon oath, and allow time to the accused, and counsel too, and hear
over and over again.

In those cases where we ourselves are witnesses, we should take into
consideration all the circumstances. If a _child_, it was _ignorance_:
if a _woman_, a _mistake_: if done by _command_ a _necessity_; if a
_man_ be injured, it is but _quod pro quo_: if a _judge_, he _knows_
what he does: if a _prince_, I must _submit_; either if _guilty_, to
_justice_, or if _innocent_, to _fortune_: if a _brute_, I make myself
one by _imitating_ it: if a _calamity_ or _disease_, my best relief
is _patience_: if _providence_, it is both _impious_ and _vain_ to
be _angry_ at it: if a _good_ man, I will make the _best_ of it: if
a _bad_, I will never _wonder_ at it. Nor is it only by _tales_ and
_stories_ that we are inflamed, but _suspicions_, _countenances_, nay,
a _look_ or a _smile_, is enough to blow us up. In these cases, let us
suspend our displeasure, and plead the cause of the absent. “Perhaps
he is innocent; or, if not, I have time to consider of it and may take
my revenge at leisure:” but when it is once _executed_ it is not to
be _recalled_. A jealous head is apt to take that to himself which
was never meant him. Let us therefore trust to nothing but what we
see, and chide ourselves where we are over-credulous. By this course
we shall not be so easily imposed upon, nor put to trouble ourselves
about things not worth the while: as the loitering of a servant upon an
errand, and the tumbling of a bed, or the spilling of a glass of drink.

It is a madness to be disordered at these fooleries; we consider the
thing done, and not the doer of it. “It may be he did it unwillingly,
or by chance. It was a trick put upon him, or he was forced to it. He
did it for reward perhaps, not hatred; nor of his own accord, but he
was urged on to it.” Nay, some regard must be had to the age of the
person, or to fortune; and we must consult humanity and candor in the
case. One does me a _great mischief_ at _unawares_; another does me a
very _small_ one by _design_, or peradventure none at all, but intended
me one. The latter was more in fault, but I will be angry with neither.
We must distinguish betwixt what a man cannot do and what he will not.
“It is true he has once offended me; but how often has he pleased me!
He has offended me often, and in other kinds; and why should not I bear
it as well now as I have done?” Is he my friend? why then, “It was
against his will.” Is he my enemy? It is “no more than I looked for.”
Let us give way to wise men, and not squabble with fools; and say thus
to ourselves, “We have all of us our errors.” No man is so circumspect,
so considerate, or so fearful of offending, but he has much to answer

A generous prisoner cannot immediately comply with all the sordid and
laborious offices of a slave. A footman that is not breathed cannot
keep pace with his master’s horse. He that is over-watched may be
allowed to be drowsy. All these things are to be weighed before we give
any ear to the first impulse. If it be my duty to love my country,
I must be kind also to my countrymen; if a veneration be due to the
whole, so is a piety also to the parts: and it is the common interest
to preserve them. We are all members of one body, and it is as natural
to help one another as for the hands to help the feet, or the eyes the
hands. Without the love and care of the parts, the whole can never
be preserved, and we must spare one another because we are born for
society, which cannot be maintained without a regard to particulars.
Let this be a rule to us, never to deny a pardon, that does no hurt
either to the giver or receiver. That may be well enough in one which
is ill in another; and therefore we are not to condemn anything that is
common to a nation; for custom defends it. But much more pardonable are
those things which are common to mankind.

It is a kind of spiteful comfort, that whoever does me an injury may
receive one; and that there is a power over him that is above me. A man
should stand as firm against all indignities as a rock does against
the waves. As it is some satisfaction to a man in a mean condition
that there is no security in a more prosperous; and as the loss of
a son in a corner is borne with more patience upon the sight of a
funeral carried out of a palace; so are injuries and contempts the more
tolerable from a meaner person, when we consider, that the greatest
men and fortunes are not exempt. The wisest also of mortals have their
failings, and no man living is without the same excuse. The difference
is, that we do not all of us transgress the same way; but we are
obliged in humanity to bear one with another.

We should, every one of us, bethink ourselves, how remiss we have
been in our duties, how immodest in our discourses, how intemperate
in our cups; and why not, as well, how extravagant we have been in
our passions? Let us clear ourselves of this evil, purge our minds,
and utterly root out all those vices, which upon leaving the least
sting, will grow again and recover. We must think of everything, expect
everything, that we may not be surprised. It is a shame, says Fabius,
for a commander to excuse himself by saying, “I was not aware of it.”



It is not prudent to deny a pardon to any man, without first examining
if we stand not in need of it ourselves; for it may be our lot to ask
it, even at his feet to whom we refuse it. But we are willing enough to
do what we are very unwilling to suffer. It is unreasonable to charge
public vices upon particular persons; for we are all of us wicked,
and that which we blame in others we find in ourselves. It is not a
paleness in one, or a leanness in another, but a pestilence that has
laid hold upon all.

It is a wicked world, and we make part of it; and the way to be quiet
is to bear one with another. “Such a man,” we cry, “has done me a
shrewd turn, and I never did him any hurt.” Well, but it may be I have
mischieved other people, or at least, I may live to do as much to him
as that comes to. “Such a one has spoken ill things of me;” but if I
first speak ill of him, as I do of many others, this is not an injury,
but a repayment. What if he did overshoot himself? He was loth to lose
his conceit perhaps, but there was no malice in it; and if he had
not done me a mischief, he must have done himself one. How many good
offices are there that look like injuries! Nay, how many have been
reconciled and good friends after a professed hatred!

Before we lay anything to heart, let us ask ourselves if we have not
done the same thing to others. But where shall we find an equal judge?
He that loves another man’s wife (only because she is another’s) will
not suffer his own to be so much looked upon. No man is so fierce
against calumny as the evil speaker; none so strict exactors of modesty
in a servant as those that are most prodigal of their own. We carry our
neighbors’ crimes in sight, and we throw our own over our shoulders.
The intemperance of a bad son is chastised by a worse father; and the
luxury that we punish in others, we allow to ourselves. The tyrant
exclaims against homicide; and sacrilege against theft. We are angry
with the persons, but not with the faults.

Some things there are that cannot hurt us, and others will not; as good
magistrates, parents, tutors, judges; whose reproof or correction we
are to take as we do abstinence, bleeding, and other uneasy things,
which we are the better for, in which cases, we are not so much to
reckon upon what we suffer as upon what we have done. “I take it ill,”
says one; and, “I have done nothing,” says another: when, at the same
time, we make it worse, by adding arrogance and contumacy to our first
error. We cry out presently, “What law have we transgressed?” As if the
letter of the law were the sum of our duty, and that piety, humanity,
liberality, justice, and faith, were things beside our business. No,
no; the rule of human duty is of a greater latitude; and we have many
obligations upon us that are not to be found in the _statute-books_.
And yet we fall short of the exactness event of that _legal
innocency_. We have intended one thing and done another; wherein only
the want of success has kept us from being criminals. This very thing,
methinks, should make us more favorable to delinquents, and to forgive
not only ourselves, but the gods too; of whom we seem to have harder
thoughts in taking that to be a particular evil directed to us, that
befalls us only by the common law of mortality. In fine, no man living
can absolve himself to his conscience, though to the world, perhaps, he
may. It is true, that we are also condemned to pains and diseases, and
to death too, which is no more than the quitting of the soul’s house.
But why should any man complain of bondage, that, wheresoever he looks,
has his way open to liberty? That precipice, that sea, that river, that
well, there is freedom in the bottom of it. It hangs upon every crooked
bow; and not only a man’s throat, or his heart, but every vein in his
body, opens a passage to it.

To conclude, where my proper virtue fails me, I will have recourse to
examples, and say to myself, Am I greater than Philip or Augustus, who
both of them put up with greater reproaches? Many have pardoned their
enemies, and shall not I forgive a neglect, a little freedom of the
tongue? Nay, the patience but of a second thought does the business:
for though the first shock be violent; take it in parts, and it is
subdued. And, to wind up all in one word, the great lesson of mankind,
as well in this as in all other cases, is, “to do as we would be done



There is so near an affinity betwixt _anger_ and _cruelty_, that many
people confound them; as if _cruelty_ were only the _execution_ of
_anger_ in the payment of a _revenge_: which holds in some cases,
but not in others. There are a sort of men that take delight in the
spilling of human blood, and in the death of those that never did them
any injury, nor were ever so much suspected for it; as Apollodorus,
Phalaris, Sinis, Procrustus, and others, that burnt men alive; whom
we cannot so properly call _angry_ as _brutal_, for _anger_ does
necessarily presuppose an injury, either _done_, or _conceived_, or
_feared_, but the other takes _pleasure_ in _tormenting_, without so
much as pretending any _provocation_ to it, and _kills_ merely for
_killing sake_. The _original_ of this _cruelty_ perhaps was _anger_,
which by frequent _exercise_ and _custom_, has lost all sense of
_humanity_ and _mercy_, and they that are thus affected are so far
from the countenance and appearance of men in _anger_, that they will
_laugh_, _rejoice_, and _entertain themselves_ with the most _horrid
spectacles_, as _racks_, _jails_, _gibbets_, several sorts of _chains_
and _punishments_, _dilaceration_ of _members_, _stigmatizing_, and
_wild beasts_, with other exquisite inventions of torture; and yet, at
last the cruelty itself is more horrid and odious than the means by
which it works. It is a bestial madness to _love_ mischief; beside,
that it is _womanish_ to _rage_ and _tear_. A generous beast will scorn
to do it when he has any thing at his mercy. It is a vice for wolves
and tigers, and no less _abominable_ to the _world_ than _dangerous_ to

The Romans had their _morning_ and their _meridian spectacles_. In
the _former_, they had their combats of _men_ with _wild beasts_; and
in the _latter_, the _men_ fought _one with another_. “I went,” says
our author, “the other day to the _meridian spectacles_, in hope of
meeting somewhat of mirth and diversion to sweeten the humors of those
that had been entertained with blood in the _morning_; but it proved
otherwise, for, compared with this inhumanity, the former was a mercy.
The whole business was only murder upon murder: the combatants fought
naked, and every blow was a wound. They do not contend for _victory_,
but for _death_; and he that kills one man is to be killed by another.
By wounds they are forced upon wounds which they take and give upon
their bare _breasts. Burn that rogue_, they cry _What! Is he afraid
of his flesh? Do but see how sneakingly that rascal dies._ Look to
yourselves, my masters, and consider of it: who knows but this may come
to be your own case?” Wicked examples seldom fail of coming home at
last to the authors. To destroy a _single_ man may be dangerous; but
to murder whole nations is only a more _glorious wickedness. Private
avarice_ and _rigor_ are condemned, but _oppression_, when it comes to
be _authorized_ by an act of state, and to be publicly _commanded_,
though particularly forbidden, becomes a point of _dignity_ and
_honor_. What a shame is it for men to interworry one another, when
yet the fiercest even of beasts are at peace with those of their own
kind? This brutal fury puts philosophy itself to a stand. The drunkard,
the glutton, the covetous, may be reduced; nay, and the mischief of
it is that no vice keeps itself within its proper bounds. Luxury runs
into avarice, and when the reverence of virtue is extinguished, men
will stick at nothing that carries profit along with it; man’s blood is
shed in wantonness—his death is a spectacle for entertainment, and his
groans are music. When Alexander delivered up Lysimachus to a lion, how
glad would he have been to have had nails and teeth to have devoured
him himself: it would have too much derogated, he thought, from the
dignity of his wrath, to have appointed a _man_ for the execution of
his friend. Private cruelties, it is true, cannot do much mischief, but
in princes they are a war against mankind.

C. Cæsar would commonly, for _exercise_ and _pleasure_, put _senators_
and _Roman knights_ to the _torture_; and _whip_ several of them like
_slaves_, or put them to _death_ with the most acute _torments_,
merely for the satisfaction of his _cruelty_. That Cæsar that “wished
the people of Rome had but one neck, that he might cut it off at one
blow;”—it was the employment, the study, and the joy of his life. He
would not so much as give the expiring leave to groan, but caused their
mouths to be stopped with sponges, or for want of them, with rags of
their own clothes, that they might not breathe out so much as their
last agonies at liberty; or, perhaps, lest the tormented should speak
something which the tormentor had no mind to hear. Nay, he was so
impatient of delay, that he would frequently rise from supper to have
men killed by _torch-light_, as if his life and death had depended
upon their dispatch before the next morning; to say nothing how many
_fathers_ were put to death in the same night with their _sons_ (which
was a kind of mercy in the prevention of their mourning). And was not
Sylla’s cruelty prodigious too, which was only stopped for want of
enemies? He caused seven thousand _citizens_ of Rome to be slaughtered
at once; and some of the senators being startled at their cries that
were heard in the _senate-house_, “Let us mind our business,” says
Sylla; “this is nothing but a few mutineers that I have ordered to be
sent out of the way.” A _glorious spectacle_! says Hannibal, when he
saw the trenches flowing with human blood; and if the rivers had run
blood too, he would have liked it so much the better.

Among the famous and detestable speeches that are committed to memory,
I know none worse than that impudent and _tyrannical maxim_, “Let them
hate me, so they fear me;” not considering that those that are kept
in obedience by fear, are both malicious and mercenary, and only wait
for an opportunity to change their master. Beside that, whosoever is
terrible to others is likewise afraid of himself. What is more ordinary
than for a tyrant to be destroyed by his own guards? which is no more
than the putting those crimes into practice which they learned of
their masters. How many slaves have revenged themselves of their cruel
oppressors, though they were sure to die for it! but when it comes
once to a _popular tyranny_, whole nations conspire against it. For
“whosoever threatens all, is in danger of all,” over and above, that
the cruelty of the prince increases the _number_ of his enemies, by
destroying some of them; for it entails an hereditary hatred upon the
friends and relations of those that are taken away. And then it has
this misfortune, that a man must be wicked upon necessity; for there
is no going back; so that he must betake himself to arms, and yet he
lives in fear. He can neither trust to the faith of his friends, nor
to the piety of his children; he both dreads death and wishes it; and
becomes a greater terror to himself than he is to his people. Nay, if
there were nothing else to make cruelty detestable, it were enough that
it passes all bounds, both of custom and humanity; and is followed upon
the heel with sword or poison. A private malice indeed does not move
whole cities; but that which extends to all is every body’s mark. One
sick person gives no great disturbance in a family; but when it comes
to a depopulating plague, all people fly from it. And why should a
prince expect any man to be good whom he has taught to be wicked?

But what if it were _safe_ to be _cruel_? Were it not still a sad
thing, the very state of such a _government_? A _government_ that
bears the image of a _taken city_, where there is nothing but
_sorrow_, _trouble_, and _confusion_. Men dare not so much as trust
themselves with their friends or with their pleasures. There is not any
entertainment so innocent but it affords pretence of crime and danger.
People are betrayed at their _tables_ and in their _cups_, and drawn
from the very _theatre_ to the _prison_. How horrid a madness is it
to be still _raging_ and _killing_; to have the rattling of _chains_
always in our _ears; bloody spectacles_ before our _eyes_; and to carry
_terror_ and _dismay_ wherever we go! If we had _lions_ and _serpents_,
to rule over us, this would be the manner of their _government_,
saving that they agree better among themselves. It passes for a mark
of greatness to burn cities, and lay whole kingdoms waste; nor is it
for the honor of a prince, to appoint this or that single man to be
killed, unless they have whole _troops_, or (sometimes) _legions_, to
work upon. But it is not the spoils of _war_ and _bloody trophies_ that
make a prince _glorious_, but the _divine power_ of preserving _unity_
and _peace. Ruin_ without _distinction_ is more properly the business
of a general _deluge_, or a _conflagration_. Neither does a fierce
and inexorable _anger_ become the _supreme magistrate_; “Greatness of
mind is always meek and humble; but cruelty is a note and an effect of
weakness, and brings down a governor to the level of a competitor.”


The humanity and excellence of this virtue is confessed at all hands,
as well by the men of _pleasure_, and those that think every man was
made for himself, as by the Stoics, that make “man a sociable creature,
and born for the common good of mankind:” for it is of all dispositions
the most _peaceable_ and _quiet_. But before we enter any farther upon
the discourse, it should be first known what _clemency_ is, that we may
distinguish it from _pity_; which is a _weakness_, though many times
mistaken for a _virtue_: and the next thing will be, to bring the mind
to the _habit_ and _exercise_ of it.

“Clemency is a favorable disposition of the mind, in the matter of
inflicting punishment; or, a moderation that remits somewhat of the
penalty incurred; as _pardon_ is the total remission of a deserved
punishment.” We must be careful not to confound _clemency_ with
_pity_; for as _religion worships_ God, and _superstition profanes_
that worship; so should we distinguish betwixt _clemency_ and _pity_;
_practicing_ the _one_, and _avoiding_ the _other_. For _pity_ proceeds
from a _narrowness of mind_, that respects rather the _fortune_ than
the _cause_. It is a kind of moral sickness, contracted from other
people’s misfortune: such another weakness as laughing or yawning for
company, or as that of sick eyes that cannot look upon others that are
bleared without dropping themselves. I will give a shipwrecked man a
plank, a lodging to a stranger, or a piece of money to him that wants
it: I will dry up the tears of my friend, yet I will not weep with him,
but treat him with constancy and humanity, as _one man_ ought to treat

It is objected by some, that _clemency_ is an insignificant virtue; and
that only the bad are the better for it, for the good have no need of
it. But in the first place, as physic is in use only among the sick,
and yet in honor with the sound, so the innocent have a reverence
for clemency, though criminals are properly the objects of it. And
then again, a man may be innocent, and yet have occasion for it too;
for by the accidents of fortune, or the condition of times, virtue
itself may come to be in danger. Consider the most populous city or
nation; what a solitude would it be if none should be left there but
those that could stand the test of a severe justice! We should have
neither judges nor accusers; none either to grant a pardon or to ask
it. More or less, we are all sinners; and he that has best purged his
conscience, was brought by errors to repentance. And it is farther
profitable to mankind; for many delinquents come to be converted. There
is a tenderness to be used even toward our slaves, and those that we
have bought with our money: how much more then to free and to honest
men, that are rather under our protection than dominion! Not that I
would have it so general neither as not to distinguish betwixt the good
and the bad; for that would introduce a confusion, and give a kind of
encouragement to wickedness. It must therefore have a respect to the
quality of the offender, and separate the curable from the desperate;
for it is an equal cruelty to pardon all and to pardon none. Where
the matter is in balance, let mercy turn the scale: if all wicked men
should be punished, who should escape?

Though mercy and gentleness of nature keeps all in peace and
tranquillity, even in a _cottage_; yet it is much more beneficial
and conspicuous in a _palace. Private men_ in their _condition_ are
likewise _private_ in their _virtues_ and in their _vices_; but the
words and the actions of _princes_ are the subject of _public rumor_;
and therefore they had need have a care, what occasion they give
people for discourse, of whom people will be always a talking. There
is the _government_ of a _prince_ over his _people_, a _father_ over
his _children_, a _master_ over his _scholars_, an _officer_ over his
_soldiers_. He is an unnatural father, that for every trifle beats his
children. Who is the better master, he that rages over his scholars for
but missing a word in a lesson, or he that tries, by admonition and
fair words, to instruct and reform them? An outrageous officer makes
his men run from their colors. A skilful rider brings his horse to
obedience by mingling fair means with foul; whereas to be perpetually
switching and spurring, makes him vicious and jadish: and shall we
not have more care of _men_ than of _beasts_? It breaks the hope of
generous inclinations, when they are depressed by servility and terror.
There is no creature so hard to be pleased with ill usage as man.

Clemency does _well_ with _all_ but _best_ with _princes_; for it makes
their power comfortable and beneficial, which would otherwise be the
pest of mankind. It establishes their greatness, when they make the
good of the public their particular care, and employ their power for
the safety of the people. The prince, in effect, is but the soul of the
community, as the community is only the body of the prince; so that
being merciful to others, he is tender of himself: nor is any man so
mean but his master feels the loss of him, as a part of his empire: and
he takes care not only of the lives of his people, but also of their
reputation. Now, giving for granted that all virtues are in themselves
equal, it will not yet be denied, that they may be more beneficial to
mankind in one person than in another. A beggar may be as magnanimous
as a king: for what can be greater or braver than to baffle ill
fortune? This does not hinder but that a man in authority and plenty
has more matter for his generosity to work upon than a private person;
and it is also more taken notice of upon the bench than upon the level.

When a gracious prince shows himself to his people, they do not fly
from him as from a tiger that rouses himself out of his den, but they
worship him as a benevolent influence; they secure him against all
conspiracies, and interpose their bodies betwixt him and danger. They
guard him while he sleeps, and defend him in the field against his
enemies. Nor is it without reason, this unanimous agreement in love and
loyalty, and this heroical zeal of abandoning themselves for the safety
of their prince; but it is as well the interest of the people. In the
breath of a prince there is life and death; and his sentence stands
good, right or wrong. If he be angry, nobody dares advise him; and if
he does amiss, who shall call him to account? Now, for him that has so
much mischief in his power, and yet applies that power to the common
utility and comfort of his people, diffusing also clemency and goodness
into their hearts too, what can be a greater blessing to mankind than
such a prince? _Any man_ may _kill_ another _against_ the law, but only
a _prince_ can _save_ him so. Let him so deal with his own subjects as
he desires God should deal with him. If Heaven should be inexorable to
sinners, and destroy all without mercy, what flesh could be safe?

But as the faults of great men are not presently punished with thunder
from above, let them have a like regard to their inferiors here upon
earth. He that has revenge in his power, and does not use it, is the
great man. Which is the more beautiful and agreeable state, that of
a calm, a temperate, and a clear day; or that of lightning, thunder,
and tempests? and this is the very difference betwixt a moderate and
turbulent government. It is for low and vulgar spirits to brawl, storm,
and transport themselves: but it is not for the majesty of a prince to
lash out into intemperance of words. Some will think it rather slavery
than empire to be debarred liberty of speech: and what if it be, when
government itself is but a more illustrious servitude?

He that uses his power as he should, takes as much delight in making
it comfortable to his people as glorious to himself. He is affable
and easy of access; his very countenance makes him the joy of his
people’s eyes, and the delight of mankind. He is beloved, defended,
and reverenced by all his subjects; and men speak as well of him in
private as in public. He is safe without guards, and the sword is
rather his ornament than his defence. In his duty, he is like that of a
good father, that sometimes gently reproves a son, sometimes threatens
him; nay, and perhaps corrects him: but no father in his right wits
will disinherit a son for the first fault; there must be many and great
offences, and only desperate consequences, that should bring him to
that decretory resolution. He will make many experiments to try if he
can reclaim him first, and nothing but the utmost despair must put him
upon extremities.

It is not flattery that calls a prince _the father of his country_;
the titles of _great_ and _august_ are matter of compliment and of
honor; but in calling him _father_, we mind him of that moderation and
indulgence which he owes to his children. His subjects are his members;
where, if there must be an amputation, let him come slowly to it; and
when the part is cut off, let him wish it were on again: let him grieve
in the doing of it. He that passes a sentence _hastily_, looks as if he
did it _willingly_; and then there is an injustice in the excess.

It is a glorious contemplation for a prince, first to consider the
vast multitudes of his people, whose seditious, divided, and impotent
passions, would cast all in confusion, and destroy themselves, and
public order too, if the hand of government did not restrain them;
and thence to pass the examination of his conscience, saying thus to
himself, “It is by the choice of Providence that I am here made God’s
deputy upon earth, the arbitrator of life and death; and that upon
my breath depends the fortune of my people. My lips are the oracles
of their fate, and upon them hangs the destiny both of cities and of
men. It is under my favor that people seek either for prosperity or
protection: thousands of swords are drawn or sheathed at my pleasure.
What towns shall be advanced or destroyed; who shall be slaves, or who
free, depends upon my will; and yet, in this arbitrary power of acting
without control, I was never transported to do any cruel thing, either
by anger or hot blood in myself or by the contumacy, rashness, or
provocations of other men; though sufficient to turn mercy itself into
fury. I was never moved by the odious vanity of making myself terrible
by my power, (that accursed, though common humor of ostentation and
glory that haunts imperious natures.) My sword has not only been buried
in the scabbard, but in a manner bound to the peace, and tender even
of the cheapest blood: and where I find no other motive to compassion,
humanity itself is sufficient. I have been always slow to severity, and
prone to forgive; and under as strict a guard to observe the laws as if
I were accountable for the breaking of them. Some I pardoned for their
youth, others for their age. I spare one man for his dignity, another
for his humility; and when I find no other matter to work upon, I spare
myself. So that if God should at this instant call me to an account,
the whole world agree to witness for me, that I have not by any force,
either public or private, either by myself or by any other, defrauded
the commonwealth; and the reputation that I have ever sought for has
been that which few princes have obtained, the conscience of my proper
innocence. And I have not lost my labor neither; for no man was ever so
dear to another, as I have made myself to the whole body of my people.”
Under such a prince the subjects have nothing to wish for beyond what
they enjoy; their fears are quieted, and their prayers heard, and
there is nothing can make their felicity greater, unless to make it
perpetual; and there is no liberty denied to the people but that of
destroying one another.

It is the interest of the people, by the consent of all nations, to run
all hazards for the safety of their prince, and by a thousand deaths to
redeem that one life, upon which so many millions depend. Does not the
whole body serve the mind, though only the one is exposed to the eye
and the other not, but thin and invisible, the very seat of it being
uncertain? Yet the hands, feet, and eyes, observe the motions of it. We
lie down, run about and ramble, as that commands us. If we be covetous,
we fish the seas and ransack the earth for treasure: if ambitious, we
burn our own flesh with Scævola; we cast ourselves into the gulf with
Curtius: so would that vast multitude of people, which is animated but
with one soul, governed by one spirit, and moved by one reason, destroy
itself with its own strength, if it were not supported by wisdom and
government. Wherefore, it is for their own security that the people
expose their lives for their prince, as the very bond that ties the
republic together; the vital spirit of so many thousands, which would
be nothing else but a burden and prey without a governor.

When this union comes once to be dissolved, all falls to pieces; for
empire and obedience must stand and fall together. It is no wonder then
if a prince be dear to his people, when the community is wrapt up in
him, and the good of both as inseparable as the body and the head; the
one for strength, and the other for counsel; for what signifies the
force of the body without the direction of the understanding? While the
prince watches, his people sleep; his labor keeps them at ease, and
his business keeps them quiet. The natural intent of monarchy appears
even from the very discipline of bees: they assign to their master the
fairest lodgings, the safest place; and his office is only to see that
the rest perform their duties. When their king is lost, the whole swarm
dissolve: more than one they will not admit; and then they contend who
shall have the best. They are of all creatures the fiercest for their
bigness; and leave their stings behind them in their quarrels; only
the king himself has none, intimating that kings should neither be
vindictive nor cruel.

Is it not a shame, after such an example of moderation in these
creatures, that men should be yet intemperate? It were well if they
lost their stings too in their revenge, as well as the other, that they
might hurt but once, and do no mischief by their proxies. It would tire
them out, if either they were to execute all with their own hands, or
to wound others at the peril of their own lives.

A prince should behave himself generously in the power which God has
given him of life and death, especially towards those that have been
at any time his equals; for the one has his revenge, and the other his
punishment in it. He that stands indebted for his life has lost it;
but he that receives his life at the foot of his enemy, lives to the
honor of his preserver: he lives the lasting monument of his virtue;
whereas, if he had been led in triumph, the spectacle would have been
quickly over. Or what if he should restore him to his kingdom again?
would it not be an ample accession to his honor to show that he found
nothing about the conquered that was worthy of the conqueror? There is
nothing more venerable than a prince that does not revenge an injury.
He that is gracious is beloved and reverenced as a common father; but a
tyrant stands in fear and in danger even of his own guards. No prince
can be safe himself of whom all others are afraid; for to spare none
is to enrage all. It is an error to imagine that any man can be secure
that suffers nobody else to be so too. How can any man endure to lead
an uneasy, suspicious, anxious life, when he may be safe if he please,
and enjoy all the blessings of power, together with the prayers of
his people? Clemency protects a prince without a guard; there is no
need of troops, castles, or fortifications: security on the one side
is the condition of security on the other; and the affections of the
subject are the most invincible fortress. What can be fairer, than for
a prince to live the object of his people’s love; to have the vows of
their heart as well as of their lips, and his health and sickness their
common hopes and fears? There will be no danger of plots; nay, on the
contrary, who would not frankly venture his blood to save him, under
whose government, justice, peace, modesty, and dignity flourish? under
whose influence men grow rich and happy; and whom men look upon with
such veneration, as they would do upon the immortal gods, if they were
capable of seeing them? And as the true representative of the ALMIGHTY
they consider him, when he is gracious and bountiful, and employs his
power to the advantage of his subjects.

When a prince proceeds to punishment, it must be either to vindicate
himself or others. It is a hard matter to govern himself in his own
case. If a man should advise him not to be credulous, but to examine
matters, and indulge the innocent, this is rather a point of justice
than of clemency: but in case that he be manifestly injured, I would
have him _forgive_, where he may _safely_ do it: and be _tender_ even
where he cannot _forgive_; but far more exorable in his own case,
however, than in another’s.

It is nothing to be free of another man’s purse, and it is as little to
be merciful in another man’s cause. He is the great man that masters
his passion where he is stung himself, and pardons when he might
destroy. The end of punishment is either to comfort the party injured,
or to secure him for the future. A prince’s fortune is above the need
of such a comfort, and his power is too eminent to seek an advance of
reputation by doing a private man a mischief. This I speak in case of
an affront from those that are below us; but he that of an equal has
made any man his inferior, has his revenge in the bringing of him down.
A _prince_ has been _killed_ by a _servant_, destroyed by a serpent:
but whosoever preserves a man must be greater than the person that he
preserves. With citizens, strangers, and people of low condition, a
prince is not to contend, for they are beneath him: he may spare some
out of good will, and others as he would do some little creatures that
a man cannot touch without fouling his fingers: but for those that
are to be pardoned or exposed to public punishment, he may use mercy
as he sees occasion; and a generous mind can never want inducements
and motives to it; and whether it be _age_ or _sex_, _high_ or _low_,
nothing comes amiss.

To pass now to the vindication of others, there must be had a regard
either to the amendment of the person punished, or the making others
better for fear of punishment, or the taking the offender out of the
way for the security of others. An amendment may be procured by a
small punishment, for he lives more carefully that has something yet
to lose—it is a kind of _impunity_ to be incapable of a _farther
punishment_. The corruptions of a city are best cured by a few and
sparing severities; for the multitude of offenders creates a custom of
offending, and company authorizes a crime, and there is more good to
be done upon a _dissolute age_ by _patience_ than by _rigor_; provided
that it pass not for an _approbation_ of _ill-manners_, but only as an
_unwillingness_ to proceed to _extremities_. Under a merciful prince, a
man will be ashamed to offend, because a punishment that is inflicted
by a gentle governor seems to fall heavier and with more reproach:
and it is remarkable also, that “those sins are often committed which
are very often punished.” Caligula, in five years, condemned more
people to the _sack_ than ever were before him: and there were “fewer
parricides before the law against them than after;” for our ancestors
did wisely presume that the crime would never be committed, until by
law for punishing it, they found that it might be done. _Parricides_
began with the _law_ against them, and the punishment instructed men in
the crime. Where there are few punishments, innocency is indulged as a
public good, and it is a dangerous thing to show a city how strong it
is in delinquents. There is a certain contumacy in the nature of man
that makes him oppose difficulties. We are better to follow than to
drive; as a generous horse rides best with an easy bit. People _obey
willingly_ where they are _commanded kindly_.

When Burrhus the prefect was to sentence two malefactors, he brought
the warrant to Nero to sign; who, after a long reluctancy came to it at
last with this exclamation: “I would I could not write!” A speech that
deserved the whole world for an auditory, but all princes especially;
and that the hearts of all the subjects would conform to the likeness
of their masters. As the head is well or ill, so is the mind dull or
merry. What is the difference betwixt a _king_ and a _tyrant_, but a
_diversity_ of _will_ under one and the _same power_. The one destroys
for his pleasure, the other upon necessity; a distinction rather in
fact than in name.

A gracious prince is armed as well as a tyrant; but it is for the
defence of his people and not for the ruin of them. No king can ever
have faithful servants that accustoms them to tortures and executions;
the very guilty themselves do not lead so anxious a life as the
persecutors: for they are not only afraid of justice, both divine and
human, but it is dangerous for them to mend their manners; so that
when they are once in, they must continue to be wicked upon necessity.
An universal hatred unites in a popular rage. A temperate fear may
be kept in order; but when it comes once to be continual and sharp,
it provokes people to extremities, and transports them to desperate
resolutions, as wild beasts when they are pressed upon the _toil_,
turn back and assault the very pursuers. A turbulent government is a
perpetual trouble both to prince and people; and he that is a terror
to all others is not without terror also himself. Frequent punishments
and revenges may suppress the hatred of a few, but then it stirs up the
detestation of all, so that there is no destroying one enemy without
making many. It is good to master the _will_ of being _cruel_, even
while there may be cause for it, and matter to work upon.

Augustus was a gracious prince when he had the power in his own hand;
but in the _triumviracy_ he made use of his sword, and had his friends
ready armed to set upon Antony during that dispute. But he behaved
himself afterwards at another rate; for when he was betwixt forty and
fifty years of age he was told that Cinna was in a plot to murder him,
with the time, place and manner of the design; and this from one of
the confederates. Upon this he resolved upon a revenge, and sent for
several of his friends to advise upon it. The thought of it kept him
waking, to consider, that there was the life of a young nobleman in the
case, the nephew of Pompey, and a person otherwise innocent. He was
off and on several times whether he should put him to death or not.
“What!” says he, “shall I live in trouble and in danger myself, and the
contriver of my death walk free and secure? Will nothing serve him but
that life which Providence has preserved in so many civil wars—in so
many battles both by sea and land; and now in the state of an universal
peace too—and not a simple murder either, but a sacrifice; for I am
to be assaulted at the very altar—and shall the contriver of all this
villainy escape unpunished?” Here Augustus made a little pause, and
then recollecting himself: “No, no, Cæsar,” says he, “it is rather
Cæsar than Cinna that I am to be angry with: why do I myself live any
longer after that my death is become the interest of so many people?
And if I go on, what end will there be of blood and of punishment?
If it be against my life that the nobility arm itself, and level its
weapons, my single life is not worth the while, if so many must be
destroyed that I may be preserved.”

His wife Livia gave him here an interruption, and desired him that
he would for once hear a woman’s counsel. “Do,” says she, “like a
physician, that when common remedies fail, will try the contrary: you
have got nothing hitherto by severity—after Salvidianus there followed
Lepidus—after him Muræna—Cæpio followed him, and Egnatius followed
Cæpio—try now what mercy will do—forgive Cinna. He is discovered,
and can do no hurt to your person; and it will yet advantage you in
your reputation.” Augustus was glad of the advice, and he gave thanks
for it; and thereupon countermanded the meeting of his friends, and
ordered Cinna to be brought to him alone; for whom he caused a chair
to be set, and then discharged the rest of the company. “Cinna,” says
Augustus, “_before I go any farther_, you must promise not to give me
the interruption of one syllable until I have told you all I have to
say, and you shall have liberty afterwards to say what you please. You
cannot forget, that when I found you in arms against me, and not only
made my _enemy_, but _born_ so, I gave you your life and fortune. Upon
your petition for the priesthood, I granted it, with a repulse to the
sons of those that had been my fellow-soldiers; and you are at this
day so happy and so rich, that even the conquerors envy him that is
overcome; and yet after all this, you are in a plot, Cinna, to murder
me.” At that word Cinna started, and interposed with exclamations,
“that certainly he was far from being either so wicked or so mad.”
“This is a breach of conditions, Cinna,” says Augustus, “it is not your
time to speak yet: I tell you again, that you are in a plot to murder
me;” and so he told him the time, the place, the confederates, the
order and manner of the design, and who it was that was to do the deed.
Cinna, upon this, fixed his eye upon the ground without any reply:
not for his word’s sake, but as in a confusion of conscience: and so
Augustus went on. “What,” says he, “may your design be in all this? Is
it that you would pretend to step into my place? The commonwealth were
in an ill condition, if only Augustus were in the way betwixt you and
the government. You were cast the other day in a cause by one of your
own _freemen_, and do you expect to find a weaker adversary of Cæsar?
But what if I were removed? There is Æmilius Paulus, Fabius Maximus,
and twenty other families of great blood and interest, that would never
bear it.” To cut off the story short; (for it was a discourse of above
two hours; and Augustus lengthened the punishment in _words_, since he
intended that should be all;) “Well, Cinna,” says he, “the life that
I gave to you once as an enemy, I will now repeat it to a _traitor_
and to a _parricide_, and this shall be the last reproach I will give
you. For the time to come there shall be no other contention betwixt
you and me, than which shall outdo the other in point of friendship.”
After this Augustus made Cinna _consul_, (an honor which he confessed
he durst not so much as desire) and Cinna was ever affectionately
faithful to him: he made Cæsar his _sole heir_; and this was the _last
conspiracy_ that ever was formed against him.

This moderation of Augustus was the excellency of his mature age; for
in his youth he was passionate and sudden; and he did many things which
afterward he looked back upon with trouble: after the battle of Actium,
so many navies broken in Sicily, both _Roman_ and _strangers_: the
_Perusian altars_, where 300 _lives_ were _sacrificed_ to the _ghost_
of Julius; his frequent _proscriptions_, and other severities; his
_temperance_ at last seemed to be little more than a _weary cruelty_.
If he had not _forgiven_ those that he _conquered_, whom should
he have _governed_? He chose his very _life-guard_ from among his
_enemies_, and the _flower_ of the Romans owed their _lives_ to his
_clemency_. Nay, he only punished Lepidus himself with _banishment_,
and permitted him to wear the _ensigns_ of his _dignity_, without
taking the _pontificate_ to himself so long as Lepidus was living;
for he would not possess it as a _spoil_, but as an _honor_. This
_clemency_ it was that secured him in his greatness, and ingratiated
him to the people, though he laid his hand upon the government before
they had thoroughly submitted to the yoke; and this clemency it was
that made his _name famous_ to _posterity_. This is it that makes us
reckon him _divine_ without the authority of an _apotheosis_. He was
so tender and patient, that though many a bitter jest was broken upon
him, (and _contumelies_ upon princes are the most _intolerable_ of all
_injuries_) yet he never punished any man upon that subject. _It is_,
then, generous _to be_ merciful, _when we have it in our_ power to
_take_ revenge.

A son of Titus Arius, being examined and found guilty of _parricide_,
was banished Rome, and confined to Marseilles, where his father allowed
him the same annuity that he had before; which made all people conclude
him guilty, when they saw that his father had yet _condemned_ the son
that he could not _hate_. Augustus was pleased to sit upon the fact in
the house of Arius, only as a _single member_ of the _council_ that was
to examine it: if it had been in Cæsar’s palace, the judgment must have
been Cæsar’s and not the _father’s_. Upon a full hearing of the matter,
Cæsar directed that every man should write his opinion whether _guilty_
or _not_, and without declaring of his own, for fear of a partial
vote. Before the opening of the books, Cæsar passed an oath, that he
would not be Arius’s _heir_: and to show that he had no interest in
his sentence, as appeared afterward; for he was not condemned to the
ordinary _punishments_ of _parricides_, nor to a prison, but, by the
mediation of Cæsar, only banished Rome, and confined to the place which
his father should name; Augustus insisting upon it, that the father
should content himself with an easy punishment: and arguing that the
young man was not moved to the attempt by _malice_, and that he was
but half resolved upon the fact, for he wavered in it; and, therefore,
to remove him from the city, and from his father’s sight, would be
sufficient. This is a glorious mercy, and worthy of a prince, to make
all things gentler wherever he comes.

How miserable is that man in himself, who, when he has employed his
power in rapines and cruelty upon others, is yet more unhappy in
himself! He stands in fear both of his domestics and of strangers; the
faith of his friends and the piety of his children, and flies to actual
violence to secure him from the violence he fears. When he comes to
look about him, and to consider what he _has_ done, what he _must_,
and what he is _about_ to do; what with the _wickedness_, and with the
_torments_ of his _conscience_, many times he fears death, oftener he
wishes for it; and lives more odious to himself than to his subjects;
whereas on the contrary, he that takes a care of the public, though of
one part more perhaps than of another, yet there is not any part of it
but he looks upon as part of himself. His mind is tender and gentle;
and even where punishment is necessary and profitable, he comes to it
unwillingly, and without any rancor or enmity in his heart. Let the
authority, in fine, be what it will, clemency becomes it; and the
greater the power, the greater is the glory of it. “It is a truly royal
virtue for a prince to deliver his people _from other_ men’s anger, and
not to oppress them _with his_ own.”

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's note:

Obvious typographical errors have been corrected silently. Other
variations in hyphenation, spelling and punctuation remain unchanged.

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