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They who travel far, easily miss their way. Travel is reputed a proper means to create men wise, and a possible to make them honest, because it forces circumspectness on those abroad, who at home are nursed in security; and persuadeth good behavior and temperance to such, who (far from friends and means) are willing to have little to do with the lawyer or physician. Men coming into other countries, as if born into a strango world, with some discretion above them, which teacheth both to distrust others, and keep themselves sober, and to shift off those homely fashions which nature and custom in their years of simplicity had put on them. But these effects are not general, many receiving more good in their bodies by the tossing of the ship, whilst they are at sea, than benefit in their minds by breathing in a foreign air when they come to land. Yet they are as desirous men should observe they have traveled, as careful in their travels to observe nothing; and therefore if they be not able to make it known by their relation and discourse, it shall appear by their clothes and gesture. Some attain to greater perfection, being able to show at what charge they have seen other places, by their excellency in some other rare vices, or irregularity in strange opinions. As the times are, he is commended that makes a saving voyage, and least discredits his travels, who returns the same man he went.
Somewhat of a gentleman gives a tincture to a scholar ; too much stains him.
He who advised the philosopher (altogether devoted to the Muses) sometimes to offer sacrifice at the altars of the Graces, thought knowledge to be imperfect without behavior, which experience confirms, able to show, that the want thereof breeds as much disrespect to many scholars with the observers of ceremonies, as improper affectation moves distaste in some substantial judgments. Indeed slovenliness is the worst sigu of a hard student, and civility the best exercise of the remiss; yet not to be exact in the phrase of compliment, or gestures of courtesy, the indifferent do pardon to those who have been otherwise busied; and rather deride, than applaud such, who think it perfection enough to have a good outside, and happiness to be seen amongst those who have better; pleasing themselves more in opinion of some proficiency, in terms of hunting or horsemanship, which few that are studious understand, than they blush to be known ignorant in that which every man ought to know. To which vanity I have known none more inclined than those whose birth did neither require, nor fortunes encourage them to such costly idleness ; who at length made sensible by necessity, haply have the grace to repent, but seldom times the gift to recover
Books and friends are better received by weight than number. The necessities of life do warrant multitude of employments, and the variety of natures excuse the diversity of delights ; but to my discretion that course seems most desirable, whose business occasions no further trouble, nor leisure requires other recreations than may indifferently be entertained with books and friends. They are indeed happy who meet with such whom they may trust in both kinds; and undoubtedly wise, that can well apply them : the imperfect apprehension and misuse never producing any good effect. For so we see capacious understandings (by continual inquiry and perusal of all sorts of authors) thrive no better in their knowledge than some men of good disposition (addicted generally to acquaintance) are gaiders by the reckoning, when they cast up their expenso of time. The hunger of the one brecdeth a consumption, and the other's thirst not determining but by some humorous disease; nay, they who seem to respect choice, sometimes err perniciously; which the Frenchman observed, who maintained his country was much the worse by old men's studying the venom of policy, and young men's reading the dregs of fancy. And it is manifest that in our little commonwealth of learning, much disparagement is occasioned, when able spirits (attracted by familiarity) are inflamed with faction, and good natures (carried away with the stream of more pleasant company) are drowned in good fellowship
Love that observes formality is seated rather in the brain than in the heart.
By formality, I mean something more than ceremony and compliment, (which are the gesture and phrase of dissemblers,) even a solemn reverendness, which may well consist with honesty; not but that I admire a constant gravity, which upon no assurance will bewray the least imperfection to any: but confess, I am far from suspecting simplicity, which (careful to observe more real duties towards all) is bold to trespass in points of decorum amongst some, which without blushing could not be confessed to others. A sign, from whence the greatest reasoner draws an argument of good affection, which (as divine charity covers many offenses) in the experience of common humanity is content to dispense with. And although policy shows it to be the safest course to give advantage to none, yet an ingenuous nature thinks that he is scarce able to distinguish betwixt an enemy and a friend, that stands wholly upon his own guard.
An enemy is better recovered by great kindness, than a friend assured. There are some relics of goodness found even in the worst natures, and out of question seeds of evil in those who are esteemed best; whence it may appear less strange, that hearts possessed with rancor and malice are overcome with beneficence, and minds otherwise well qualified prove sometimes ungrateful; the one forced to confess satisfaction received far more than was due ; the other, to acknowledge a debt of greater value than they are able to pay : howsoever, smaller courtesies seem not visible, great ones inducing an obligation upon public record. The sincerest liberality consists in refusing, and the most innocent thrift in
saving. The bestowing of gifts is more glorious than the refusing of bribes ; because gists are commonly delivered in public, whereas men use not to confess what they owe, or offer what they ought not, before witnesses. But in true estimation, it is as honorable à virtue not to receive, as to disperse benefits; it being of greater merit wholly to abstain from things desirable, than after fruition to be content to leave them; as they who magnify single life prefer virginity much before widowhood. Yet some (in whom this kind of bounty is little observed) are unworthily censured for keeping their own, whom tenderness how to get honestly teacheth to spend discreetly; whereas such need no great thriftiness in preserving their own, who assume more liberty in exacting from others. Commendations proceeding from subtlety, captive the object; from simplicity,
the author. There is a skill to purchase, and pay debts only with fair words, drawing on good offices, and requiting them with commendations; the felicity whereof hath made flattery the most familiar rhetoric, a leaving the old method of persuasion, by insinuating the worth of him who desires to receive, and with more ease raising a self-conceit in the man who is apt to swallow such light bribery, and not often indisposed to digest unthankfulness so curiously seasoned. But it is no great inconvenience that kindness should be bestowed gratis, or upon cheap conditions; the loss is, when men of plain meaning adventure on the exchange and use of this coin, who, forward to profess their belief, image the credit of their wisdom on the behavior of such, whose actions are not within their power, and become bound in suretyship, without the help of a scrivener: which inconsiderate affection makes many earnest speakers in defense of injuries done to others, and silent patients of wrongs unexpectedly befalling themselves; desire to make good their error, pressing their tongues to so unjust service; or care to dissemble it, debarring them from the general liberty of poor complaint. Expectation prepareth applause with the weak, and prejudice with the stronger
judgments. The fashion of commending our friends' abilities before they come to trial, sometimes takes good effect with the common sort, who, building their belief on authority, strive to follow the conceit of their betters; but usually amongst men of independent judgments, this bespeaking of opinion breeds a purpose of stricter examination ; and if the report be answered, procures only a bare acknowledgment; whereas, if nothing be proclaimed or promised, they are perhaps content to signify their own skill in testifying another's desert : otherwise great wits, jealous of their credit, are ready to suppress worth in others, to the advancing of their own, and (if more ingenuous) no farther just than to forbear detraction ; at the best rather disposed to give praise upon their own accord, than to mako payment upon demand or challenge. The testimony of sufficiency is better entertained than the report of excellency.
The nature of some places necessarily requires men competently endowed, but where there is choice none think the appointment to be a duty of justice bound to respect the best desert: nay, the best conceive it a work of free bounty, which men of mean qualities are likely to acknowledge, and the worldly make it a business of profit, unto which the most deserving are least apt to subscribe. But besides these unlucky influences from above, this cross success may be occasioned either by the too great confidence of those who hope to rise, or the jealous distrust of such as are already raised, whilst they too much presuming on their own desert, neglect all auxiliary strength, these suspecting some diminution to their own, stop the passage of another's worth ; that being most certain, Alterius virtuti invidet, qui diffidit suæ. He that appears often in the same place, gets little ground in the way to credit.
Familiar and frequent use, which makes things (at first ungrateful) by continuance pleasing or tolerable, takes away the luster from more excellent objects, and reduceth them from the height of admiration, to the low degrees of neglect, dislike, and contempt; which were not strange, if it wrought only among the vulgar, whose opinion (like their stomachs) is overcome with satiety, or men of something a higher stage, the edge of whose sight is abated and dulled by long gazing; but the same entertainment is given by the judicious and learned, either because they observe some defects, which at first sight are less visible; or the actors in this
kind betray weakness in their latter attempts, usually straining so high at first, that they are not able to reach again in the rest; or by this often obtrusion not required, discover a good conceit of their own graces; and men so well affected to themselves are generally so happy as to have little cause to plain of corivals.
The active man riseth not so well by his strength, as the expert by his stirrup.
They that climb towards preferment or greatness by their own virtue, get up with much ado and very slowly; whereas such as are raised by other means, usually ascend lightly and appear more happy in their sudden advancements, sometimes by the only strength of those who stand above, exercising their power in their dependents commonly by subordinate helps and assistance, which young men happily obtain from the commendations of friends, old men often compass by the credit of their wealth, who have a great advantage in that they are best able to purchase, and likely soonest to leave the room.
Few men thrive by one only art, fewer by many. Amongst tradesmen of meaner sort, they are not poorest whose shop windows open over a red lattice; and the wealthiest merchants employ scriveners for security at home, as much as factors for their advantage abroad, both finding not more warrantable gains by negotiating with the industrious, than profitable returns by dealing with unthrifts. The disposition of the time hath taught this wisdom to more ingenuous professions, which are best entertained when they come accompanied with some other respects, whence preciseness is become a good babit to plead in, and papistry a privy commendation to the practice of physic, contentious zeal making most clients, and sensual superstition yielding the best patients. They who are intent by diverse means to make progress in their estate, can not succeed well, as he that would run upon his hands and feet makes less speed than one who goes as nature taught him ; the untoward moving of some unskillful parts, hindering the going forward of those which are better disposed.
It is good to profess betimes, and practice at leisure. There is a saying, that the best choice is of an old physician, and a young lawyer : the reason supposed, because where errors are stal, ability of judgment and moderation are required; but where advantages may be wrought upon, diligence and quickness of wit are of more special use. But if it be considered who are generally most esteemed, it will appear that opinion of the multitude sets up the one, and the favor of authority upholds the other; yet in truth, a man's age and time are of necessary regard, such of themselves succeeding best, who in these or any other professions, neither defer their resolutions too long, nor begin their practice too soon; whereas ordinarily, they who are immaturely adventurous, by their insufficiency hurt others; they who are tedious in deliberation, by some improvidence hinder themselves.
Felicity shows the ground where industry builds a fortune. Archimedes, the great engineer, (who, in defending Syracuse against Marcelo lus, showed wonderful experiments of his extraordinary skill,) was bold to say, that he would remove the world out of his place, if he had elsewhere to ret his foot. And truly I believe so far, that otherwise he could not do it: I am sure, so much is evident in the architecture of fortunes ; in the raising of which the best art or endeavor is able to do nothing, if it have not where to lay the first stone ; for it is possible with the like skill to raise a frame when we have matter, but not to create something out of nothing: the first being the ordinary effect of industry, this only divine power. Indeed, many from very mean beginnings have aspired to very eminent place, and we usually ascribe it to their own worth, which no doubt in some is great ; yet as in religion we are bound to believe, so in truth the best of them will confess, that the first advantage was reached out merely by a divine hand, which also, no doubt, did always assist their after endeavors. Some have the felicity to be born heirs to good estates, others to be made so beyond their hopes. Marriage (besides the good which oftentimes it confers directly) collaterally sometimes helps to offices, sometimes to benefices, sometimes to dignities. Many rise by relation and dependence, it being a happy step to some, to have fallen on a fortunate master, to some on a foolish, to somo (few) on a good. There are divers other means, of which, as of these, I am not 80 fit to speak, but truly considered, they are all out of our own power, which he that presumeth most can not promise himself; and he that expects least, some tirnes attains.