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PHILOSOPHY AND PROSE LITERATURE
55. SIR PHILIP SYDNEY. 1554-1586. (Manual, p 78.)
(For his Poetry, see page 79.)
From the Defence of Poesy.
IN PRAISE OF POETRY.
Now therein (that is to say, the power of at once teaching and enticing to do well) – - now therein, of all sciences-I speak still of human and according to human conceit—is our poet the monarch. For he doth not only show the way, but giveth so sweet a prospect into the way, as will entice any man to enter into it. Nay, he doth, as if your journey should lie through a fair vineyard, at the very first give you a cluster of grapes, that, full of that taste, you may long to pass further. He beginneth not with obscure definitions, which must blur the margent with interpretations, and load the memory with doubtfulness; but he cometh to you with words set in delightful proportion, either accompanied with, or prepared for, the well-enchanting skill of music; and with a tale, forsooth, he cometh unto you with a tale which holdeth children from play, and old men from the chimneycorner; and pretending no more, doth intend the winning of the mind from wickedness to virtue, even as the child is often brought to take most wholesome things, by hiding them in such other as have a pleasant taste. For even those hard-hearted evil men, who think virtue a school name, and know no other good but indulgere genio, and therefore despise the austere admonitions of the philosopher, and feel rot the inward reason they stand upon, yet will be content to be delighte 1; which is all the good-fellow poet seems to promise; and so steal to see the form of goodness—which, seen, they cannot but love ere themselves be aware, as if they had taken a medicine of cherries. By these, therefore, examples and reasons, I think it may be manifestat the poet, with that same hand of delight, doth draw the mind more effectually than any other art doth. And so a conclusion not unfitly ensues, that as virtue is the most excellent resting-place for all worldly learning to make an end of, so poetry, being the most familiar to
teach it, and most princely to move towards it, in the most excellent work is the most excellent workman.
Since, then, poetry is of all human learning the most ancient, and of most fatherly antiquity, as from whence other learnings have taken their beginnings; - Since it is so universal that no learned nation doth despise it, no barbarous nation is without it; - Since both Roman and Greek gave such divine names unto it, the one of prophesy. ing, the other of making; and that, indeed, that name of making i fit for it, considering that whereas all other arts retain themselves within their subject, and receive, as it were, their being from it. — the poet, only, bringeth his own stuff, and doth not learn a conceit out of the matter, but maketh matter for a conceit; - Since, neither his description nor end containing any evil, the thing described cannot be evil; - Since his effects be so good as to teach goodness and delight the learners of it; - Since therein (namely, in moral doctrine, the chief of all knowledge) he doth not only far pass the historian. but, for instructing, is well nigh comparable to the philosopher, and for moving, leaveth him behind; Since the Holy Scripture (wherein there is no uncleanness) hath whole parts in it poetical, and that even our Saviour Christ vouchsafed to use the flowers of it; - Since all its kinds are not only in their united forms, but in their severed dissections fully commendable: — I think — (and I think I think rightly) — the laurel crown appointed for triumphant captains, doth worthily, of all other learnings, honor the poet's triumph.
56. SIR WALTER RALEIGH. 1552-1618. (Manual, p. 89.)
(For his Poetry, see page 80.)
From the History of the World.
THE FOLLY OF AMBITION AND POWER OF DEATH.
If we seek a reason of the succession and continuance of boundless ambition in mortal men, we may add, that the kings and princes of the world have always laid before them the actions, but not the ends of those great ones which preceded them. They are always tranɛported with the glory of the one, but they never mind the misery of tne other, till they find the experience in themselves. They neglect the aavice of God while they enjoy life, or hope it, but they follow the counsel of death upon his first approach. It is he that puts into man al the wisdom of the world without speaking a word, which God, with all the words of his law, promises, or threats, doth not infuse. Death, which hateth and destroyeth man, is believed; God, which hath made him and loves him, is always deferred. "I have consid ered," saith Solomon, "all the works that are under the sun, and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit;" but who believes it, till death tells it us? It was death, which, opening the conscience of
Charles V., made him enjoin his son Philip to .estore Navarre, and King Francis I. of France to command that justice should be done upon the murderers of the Protestants in Merindol and Cabrieres, which till then he neglected. It is therefore death alone that can suddenly make man to know himself. He tells the proud and i: solent that they are but abjects, and humbles them at the instar.t, makes them cry, complain, and repent, yea, even to hate their forepassed happiness. He takes the account of the rich, and proves him a beg gar, a naked beggar, which hath :nterest in nothing but in the gravei that fills his mouth. He holds a glass before the eyes of the mo beautiful, and makes them see therein their deformity and rottenness. and they acknowledge it.
O eloquent, just, and mighty death! whom none could advise, thou hast persuaded; what none could advise, thou hast persuaded; what none hath dared, thou hast done; and whom all the world hath flattered, thou only hast cast out of the world and despised; thou hast drawn together all the far-stretched greatness, all the pride, cruelty, and ambition of man, and covered it all over with these two narrow words, hic jacet!
57. RICHARD HOOKER. 1553-1598. (Manual, p. 91.)
From the Ecclesiastical Polity.
THE NECESSITY AND MAJESTY OF LAW.
The stateliness of houses, the goodliness of trees, when we behold them, delighteth the eye; but that foundation which beareth up the one, that root which ministreth unto the other nourishment and life, is in the bosom of the earth concealed; and if there be occasion at any time to search into it, such labor is then more necessary than pleasant, both to them which undertake it, and for the lookers on. In like manner, the use and benefit of good laws all that live under them may enjoy with delight and comfort, albeit the grounds and first original causes from whence they have sprung be unknown, as to the greatest part of men they are.
Since the time that God did first proclaim the edicts of his law upon the world, heaven and earth have hearkened unto his voice, and their labor hath been to do his will. He made a law for the rain; he gave his decree unto the sea, that the waters should not pass his commandment. Now, if nature should intermit her course, ane leave altogether, tnough it were for a while, the observation of he own laws; if those principal and mother elements of the world, whereof all things in this lower world are made, should lose the qualities which now they have; if the frame of that heavenly arch erected over our heads should loosen and dissolve itself; if celestial spheres should forget their wonted motions, and by irregular volu• bility turn themselves any way as it might happen; if the prince of
the lights of heaven, which now, as a giant, doth run his unwearied course, should, as it were, through a languishing faintness, begin to stand and to rest himself; if the moon should wander from her beaten way, the times and seasons of the year blend themselves by disor dered and confused mixture, the winds breathe out their ast gasp, the clouds yield no rain, the earth be defected of heavenly .nfluence. the frui.s of the earth pine away, as children at the withered breasts of their mother, no longer able to yield them relief; what would be come of man himself, whom these things do now all serve? See we not plainly, that obedience of creatures unto the law of nature is the stay of the whole world?
Of Law there can be no less acknowledged than that her seat is the bosom of God; her voice the harmony of the world. All things in heaven and earth do her homage; the very least as feeling her care, and the greatest as not exempted from her power. Both angels and men, and creatures of what condition soever, though each in different sort and manner, yet all with uniform consent, admiring her as the mother of their peace and joy.
FRANCIS BACON. 1561-1626. (Manual, pp. 92–104.)
From the Essays.
58. OF STUDIES.
Studies serve for delight, for ornament, and for ability. Their chief use for delight, is in privateness and retiring; for ornament, is in discourse; and for ability, is in the judgment and disposition of business; for expert men can execute, and perhaps judge of particu lars, one by one: but the general counsels, and the plots and mar shalling of affairs come best from those that are learned. To spend too much time in studies, is sloth; to use them too much for ornament, is affectation; to make judgment wholly by their rules, is the humor of a scholar: they perfect nature, and are perfected by experience for natural abilities are like natural plants, that need pruning by study; and studies themselves do give forth directions too much at large, except they be bounded in by experience. Crafty men con temn studies, simple men admire them, and wise men use them; for they teach not their own use; but that is a wisdom without them, and above them, won by observation. Read not to contradict and contute, nor to believe and take for granted, nor to find talk and dis· course, but to weigh and consider. Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested; that is, some books are to be read only in parts; others to be read, but not curiously; and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention. Some books also may be read by deputy, and extracts made of them by others; but that would be only in the less important
arguments and the meaner sort of books; else distilled books are, like common distilled waters, flashy things. Reading maketh & full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man; and, therefore, if a man write little, he had need have a great memory; if he confer little, he had need have a present wit; and if he read little, he had need have much cunning, to seem to know that he doth not. His toric make men wise; poets, witty; the mathematics, subtile; natara philosophy, deep; moral, grave; logic and rhetoric, able to .ontend.
59. OF ADVERSITY.
But to speak in a mean, the virtue of prosperity is temperance, the virtue of adversity is fortitude, which in morals is the more heroical virtue. Prosperity is the blessing of the Old Testament, adversity is the blessing of the New, which carrieth the greater benediction, and the clearer revelation of God's favor. Yet even in the Old Testament, Mf you listen to David's harp, you shall hear as many hearse-like airs as carols; and the pencil of the Holy Ghost hath labored more in describing the afflictions of Job than the felicities of Solomon. Prosperity is not without many fears and distastes; and adversity is not without comforts and hopes. We see in needle-works and embroideries, it is more pleasing to have a lively work upon a sad and solemn ground, than to have a dark and melancholy work upon a lightsome ground: judge, therefore, of the pleasure of the heart by the pleasure of the eye. Certainly virtue is like precious odors, most fragrant when they are incensed, or crushed: for prosperity doth best discover vice, but adversity doth best discover virtue.
60. OF DIscourse.
Some in their discourse desire rather commendation of wit, in being able to hold all arguments, than of judgment, in discerning what is true; as if it were a praise to know what might be said, and not what should be thought. Some have certain common-places and themes, wherein they are good, and want variety: which kind of poverty is for the most part tedious, and, when it is once perceived, ridiculous. The honorablest part of talk is to give the occasion; and again to inoderate and pass to somewhat else, for then a man leads the dance It is god in discourse, and speech of conversation, to vary and inte! mingle speech of the present occasion with arguments, tales with rea sons, asking of questions with telling of opinions, and jest with earnest; for it is a dull thing to tire, and as we say now, to jade any. thing too far. As for jest, there be certain things which ought to be privilege, from it; namely, religion, matters of state, great persons, any man's present business of importance, and any case that deserveth pity; yet there be some that think their wits have been asleep, except