« ElőzőTovább »
conversation and course of life, as to speak and swear falsely. Yea, it is thereby that they shift and shuffle in the world, and abuse it. For how few are there among them, which, having assumed and sworn to pay the monies, and other things they borrow, do not break their word and promise, as often as they engage it? Nay, how few are there among them, that are not liars by record, by being sued in some court or other of justice, upon breach of word or bond ?* For he which hath promised that he will pay money by a day; or promised any thing else wherein he faileth, hath directly lied to him to whom the promise hath been made. Nay, what is the profession of love that men make nowa-days ? What is the vowing of their service and all they have, used in their ordinary compliments, and (in effect) to every man whom they bid but good morrow, or salute, other than a courteous and court-like kind of lying ?
But now for the lie itself, as it is made the subject of all our deadly quarrels in effect; to it
* These observations are truly applicable, in the present day, to many of our sprigs of fashion, and would-be men of consequence, who, though possessing no visible means of subsistence, and over head and ears in debt with their tailors and washerwomen, affect to possess the highest sense of honour, and would cut the throat of any one who should dare to call their character in question. The honour of these gentry may well be suspected to have its seat according to our motto, in the most dishonourable part, and perhaps a good kicking, which most of them at times experience, is the best thing that can be applied to rouse the dormant principle into action.
I say, that whosoever gives another man the Lie, when it is manifest that he hath lied, doth him no wrong at all; neither ought it to be more heinously taken, than to tell him that he hath broken any promise which he hath otherwise made. For he that promiseth any thing, tells him to whom he hath promised, that he will perform it; and in not performing it, he hath made himself a liar. On the other side, he that gives any man the lie, when himself knows that he to whom it is given hath not lied, doth therein give the lie directly to himself. And what cause have I, if I say that the sun shines, when it doth shine, and that another fellow tells me I lie, for its midnight; to prosecute such an one to death, for making himself a foolish ruffian and a liar, in his own knowledge ? For he that gives the lie in any other dispute, than in defence of his loyalty or life, gives it impertinently and ruffian-like. I will not deny, but it is an extreme rudeness to tax any man in public, with an untruth: (if it be not pernicious and to his prejudice against whom the untruth is uttered) but all that is rude ought not to be civilized with death. That were more to admire and imitate a French custom and a wicked one, than to admire and follow the counsel of God.
But you will say, that these discourses savour of cowardice. It is true, if you call it cowardice, to fear God, or hell; whereas, he that is truly wise, and truly valiant, knows that there is nothing
else to be feared. For, against an enemy's sword, we shall find ten thousand seven-penny men (waged at that price in the wars) that fear it as little, and perchance less, than any profest swordman in the world. Diligentissima in tutela sui fortitudo: Fortitude is a diligent preserver of itself. It is, saith Aristotle, a mediocrity between doubting and daring. Sycut non martyrem poena; sic nec fortem pugna ; sed causa : As it is not the punishment that makes the martyr, so it is not fighting that declares a valiant man; but fighting in a good cause. In which, whosoever shall resolvedly end his life, resolvedly in respect to the cause; to wit, in defence of his prince, religion, or country; as he may be justly numbered among the martyrs of God; so may those that die with malicious hearts, in private combats, be called the martyrs of the devil. Neither do we indeed take our own revenge, or punish the injuries offered to us, by the death of the injurious; for the true conquest of revenge is to give him, of whom we would be revenged, cause to repent him, and not to lay the repentance of another man's death on our own consciences; animasq in vulnere ponere; and to drown our souls in the wounds and blood of our enemies.
SIR WALTER RALEGE.
YOU will ask me, if I condemn in generous and noble spirits, the defence of their honours, being prest with injuries? I say, that I do not, if
the injuries be violent: for the law of nature, which is a branch of the eternal law, and the laws of all christian kings and states, do favour him that is assailed, in the slaughter of the assailant. . You will secondly ask me, whether a nobleman, or a gentleman, being challenged by cartel, by one of like quality, be not bound, in point of honour, to satisfy the challenger in private combat? I answer, that he is not; because (omitting the greatest, which is the point of religion) the point of the law is directly contrary and opposite to that which they call the point of honour; the law, which hath dominion over it, which can judge it, which can destroy it; except you will style those acts honourable, where the hangman gives the garland. For, seeing the laws of this land have appointed the hangman to second the conqueror, and the laws of God appointed the devil to second the conquered, dying in malice; I say that he is both base, and a fool, that accepts of any cartel so accompanied.
It may further be demanded, how our noblemen and gentlemen shall be repaired in honour, where an enemy taking the start, either in words or blows, shall lay on them an infamy insufferable? I say, that a Marshal's Court will easily give satisfaction in both. And if we hold it no disgrace to submit ourselves for the recovery of our debts, goods, and lands, and for all things else, by which the lives of ourselves, our wives, and children are sustained, to the judges of the law, because it
may be felony to take by violence, even that which is our own; why should we not submit ourselves to the judges of honour, in cases of honour; because, to recover our reputation by strong hand, may be murder ? But yet again it may be objected, that the loss of honour ought to be more fearful unto us, than either the loss of our goods, of our lands, or of our lives; and I say so too: but what is this honour, I mean honour indeed, and that which ought to be so dear unto us, other than a kind of history, or fame, following actions of virtue, actions accompanied with difficulty or danger, and undertaken for the public good ? In these, he that is employed and trusted, if he fail in the performance, either through cowardice, or any other base affection, it is true that he loseth his honour; but the acting of a private combat, for a private respect, and most commonly a frivolous one, is not an action of virtue; because it is contrary to the law of God, and of all christian kings, neither is it difficult, because even and equal, in persons and arms, neither for a public good, but tending to the contrary, because the loss or mutilation of an able man, is also a loss to the commonweal.
SIR WALTER RALEOK,