« ElőzőTovább »
wear a veil, because himself had seen the face of God; and still while a man tells the story, the sun gets up higher, till he shews a fair face, and a full light, and then he shines one whole day, under a cloud often, and sometimes weeping great and little showers, and sets quickly: so is a man's reason and his life. He first begins to perceive himself to see or taste, making little reflections upon his actions of sense, and can discourse of flies and dogs, shells and play, horses and liberty: but when he is strong enough to enter into arts and little institutions, he is at first entertained with trifles and impertinent things, not because he needs them, but because his understanding is no bigger, and little images of things are laid before him, like a cock-boat to a whale, only to play withal ; but before a man comes to be wise, he is half dead with gouts and consumptions, with catarrhs and aches, with sore eyes and a worn-out body; so that if we must reckon the life of a man, but by the accounts of his reason, he is long before his soul be dressed; and he is not to be called a man without a wise and an adorned soul, a soul at least furnished with what is necessary towards his wellþeing: but by that time his soul is thus furnished, his body is decayed; and then you can hardly reckon him to be alive, when his body is possessed by so many degrees of death.
Remedies against Impatience.
What is there in the world to distinguish virtues from dishonours, or the valour of Cæsar from the softness of the Egyptian eunuchs, or that can make any thing rewardable, but the labour and the danger the pain and the difficulty? Virtue could not be any thing but sensuality, if it were the entertainment of our senses and fond desires; and Apicius had been the noblest of all the Romans, if feeding a great appetite, and despising the severities of temperance, had been the work and proper employment of a wise man. But otherwise do fathers, and otherwise do mothers handle their children. These soften them with kisses and imperfect noises, with the pap and breastmilk of soft endearments; they rescue them from tutors, and snatch them from discipline; they desire to keep them fat and warm, and their feet dry, and their bellies full; and then the children govern, and cry, and prove fools and troublesome, so long as the feminine republic does endure. But fathers, because they design to have their children wise and valiant, apt for council or for arms, send them to severe governments, and tie them to study, to hard labour, and afflictive contingencies. They rejoice when the bold boy strikes a lion with his hunting spear, and shfinks not when the beast comes to affright his early courage. Softness is for slaves and beasts, for minstrels and useless persons, for such who cannot ascend higher than the state of a fair ox, or a servant entertained for vainer offices. But the man that designs his son for noble employments, to honours and to triumphs, to consular dignities and presidencies of councils, loves to see him pale with study, or panting with labour, hardened with sufferance, or eminent by dangers. And so God dresses us for Heaven,
On the Practice of Patience.
At the first address and presence of sickness, stand still and arrest thy spirit, that it may
without amazement or affright consider that this was that thou lookedst for, and wert always certain should happen, and that now thou art to enter into the actions of a new religion, the agony of a strange constitution; but at no hand suffer thy spirits to be dispersed with fear, or wildness of thought, but stay their looseness and dispersion by a serious consideration of the present and future employment. For so doth the Lybian lion, spying the fierce huntsman; he first beats himself with the strokes of his tail, and curls up his spirits, making them strong with union and recollection, till being struck with a
Mauritanian spear, he rushes forth into his defence and noblest contention; and either scapes into the secrets of his own dwelling, or else dies the bravest of the forest. Every man, when shot with an arrow from God's quiver, must then draw in all the auxiliaries of reason, and know that then is the time to try his strength, and to reduce the words of his religion into action, and consider that if he behaves himself weakly and timorously, he suffers never the less of sickness; but if he returns to healtlı, he carries along with him the mask of a coward and a fool; and if he descends into his grave, he enters into the state of the faithless and unbelievers. Let hirn set his heart firm upon this resolution-I must bear it inevitably, and I will by God's grace do it nobly.
In the 5th chap. entitled, “ Of the Contingencies and treating our Dead,” our author introduces the well-known story of the Ephesian Matron, which he tells with such singular simplicity and beauty, that I may be excused from soliciting the pardon of the reader for inserting it.
The Ephesian woman, that the soldier told of it Petronius, was the talk of all the town, and the rarest example of a dear affection to her husband. She de. scended with the corpse into the vault, and there being attended with her maiden, resolved to weep to death, or die with famine or a distempered sorrow: from which resolution, nor his, nor her friends, nor the reverence of the principal citizens, who used the entreaties of their charity and their power, could dissuade her. But a soldier that watched seven dead bodies hanging upon the trees just over against this monument, crept in, and a while stared upon the silent and comely disorders of the sorrow: and having let the wonder awhile breathe out at each others' eyes, at last he fetched his supper and a bottle of wine, with purpose to eat and drink, and still to feed himself with that sad prettiness. His pity and first draught of wine made him bold and curious to try if the maid would drink : who, having inany hours since felt her resolution faint as her wearied body, took his kindness ; and the light returned into her eyes, and danced like boys in a festival: and fearing lest the pertinaciousness of her mistress' sorrows should cause her evil to revert; or her shame to approach, assayed whether she would endure to hear an argument to persuade her to drink and live. The violent passion had laid all her spirits in wildness