Imatges de pÓgina

to reason, arguing necessarily in those that can do it well, whether it be in gestures, in styles, in speech, in fashion, in accents, or howsoever, no shallow impression of similitudes and differences; about which, in effect, is conversant the whole wisdom of, the world.

Besides these, I would wish parents to mark heedfully the witty excuses of their children, especially at suddens and surprisals; but rather to mark than pamper them, for that were otherwise to cherish untruth: whereof I shall speak more in the final section.

Again are to be observed not only his own crafty and pertinent evasions, but likewise with what kind of jests, or pleasant accidents, he is most taken in others; which will discover the very degree of his apprehension, and even reach as far as to the censuring of the whole nations, whether they be flat and dull, or of quick capacity; for surely we have argument enough at this day to conclude the ancient Grecians an ingenious people; of whom the vulgar sort, such as were haunters of theaters, took pleasure in the conceits of Aristophanes; reserving my judgment to other place upon the filthy obscenities of that and other authors, well arguing among Christians, when all is said, that the devil is one of the wittiest.

Again, it shall be fit to note, how prettily the child himself doth manage his pretty pastimes. This may well become an ordinary parent, to which so great an emperor as Augustus descended in the highest of his state, and gravest of his age, who collected (as Suetonius tells us) out of all the known world, especially from the Syrians and Moors, (where, by the way, we may note who were then reputed the sharpest nations,) little boys of the rarest festivity, to play before him at their ordinary sports. And indeed there is much to be noted, worthy of a sadder judgment in the wiliness of that age.

Again, I would have noted in children, not only their articulate answers, but likewise certain smiles and frowns upon incident occasions; which, though they be dumb and light passions, will discover much of that inward power which moveth them, especially when withal they lighten or cloud the whole face in a


Lastly, let not his very dreams be neglected; for, without question, there is a great analogy between those apprehensions which he hath taken by day into his fancy, and his nocturnal impressions; particularly in that age which is not yet troubled with the fumes and cares of the world, so as the soul hath a freer and more defecated operation. And this is enough for the disclosing of a good capacity in the popular way which I have followed, because the subject is general.

Now for the second part of this chapter, touching inclinations: for after we know how far a child is capable, the next will be to know unto what course he is naturally most inclined. There must go before a main research, whether the child that I am to manage be of a good nature or no; as the same term is vulgarly taken, for an ingenious and tractable disposition: which being a fundamental point, and the first root of all virtuous actions, and though round about in every mother's mouth, yet a thing which will need very nice and narrow observation, I have spent some diligence in collecting certain private notes, which may direct this inquiry.

First, therefore, when I mark in children much solitude and silence, I like it not, nor any thing born before his time, as this must needs be in that sociable and exposed age, as they are for the most part. When, either alone or in company, they sit still without doing of any thing, I like it worse; for surely all dispositions

to idleness, or vacancy, even before they grow habits, are dangerous; and there is commonly but a little distance in time between doing of nothing, and doing of ill.


Time is the plainest legend, and every day a leaf is turned.

If we look abroad, we shall see many proceed yearly out of the schools of experience, whereas few, in comparison, are commended unto degrees by us: indeed the multitude of those schools infinitely exceeding our numbers; but especially because the means which they follow are far more obvious and easy. Libraries and lectures profiting none, but such as bring some measure of understanding with them; but the occurrents of the world being easily entertained by the weakest capacities, assisted only with common sense: neither therefore is this legend of time to be contemned by those whose wits are more pregnant, or studies furnished with greatest choice. The students of common law manifest the benefit arising from the use thereof; who, as by reading their year books they recover the experience by former ages: so by daily repair to the courts of justice, they suffer nothing of the present to pass unobserved. And I note, that whereas foreign universities (in conferring degrees) regard merely the performance of some solemn exercise, ours further require a certain expense of time, supposing (as I conceive) that howsoever exercise of form may be deceitfully dispatched of course, yet that he who lives some space among the assiduous advantages and helps of knowledge, (except he be of the society of the Antipodes, who turn night into day, and take no notice of what is done,) can not choose but receive so much upon ordinary observation, as may make him master of some art; which frequent opportunities, as they happily add something to those who are but idle lookers on, so, no doubt, they must advance perfection in those who are more studiously observant; every day presenting their judgments with matters examinable by the precepts they read, and most producing to their inventions, occurrents fit for further inquiry.

Every nature is not a fit stock to graft a scholar on.

The Spaniard (that wrote the Trial of Wits) undertakes to show what complexion is fit for every profession. I will not disable any for proving a scholar, nor yet dissemble that I have seen many happily forced upon that course to which by nature they seemed much indisposed. Sometimes the possibility of preferment prevailing with the credulous, expectation of less expense with the covetous, opinion of ease with the fond, and assurance of remoteness with the unkind parents, have moved them, without discretion, to engage their children in adventures of learning, by whose return they have received but small contentment. But they who are deceived in their first designs deserve less to be condemned, as such who (after sufficient trial) persist in their willfulness are no way to be pitied. I have known some who have been acquainted (by the complaints of governors, clamors of creditors, and confessions of their sons) what might be expected of them, yet have held them in with strong hand, till they have desperately quit, or disgracefully forfeited the places where they lived. Deprived of which, they might hope to avoid some misery, if their friends, who were so careful to bestow them in a college when they were young, would be so good as to provide a room for them in some hospital when they are old.

He seldom speeds well in his course, that stumbles at his setting forth.


I have ever been unwilling to hear, and careful not to utter, predictions of illsuccess; oracles proceeding as well from superstitious ignorance, as curious learning and what I deliver in these words, occasioned by examples past, I desire may be applied for prevention, rather than prejudice to any hereafter. To the same effect I heard a discreet censor lesson a young scholar, negligent at his first entrance to the elements of logic and philosophy, telling him that a child starved at nurse would hardly prove an able man. And I have known some who attended with much expectation at their first appearing, have stained the maidenhead of their credit with some negligent performance, fall into irrecoverable dislike with others, and hardly escape despair of themselves. They may make a better excuse, but not hope for more favor, who can impute the fault of their inauspicious attempts somewhere else-a circumstance necessarily to be considered where punishment is inflicted; but where reward is proposed for worth, it is as usually detained from those who could not, as from those who cared not to deserve it.

The way to knowledge by epitomes is too straight; by commentaries, too much about.

It is sufferable in any to use what liberty they list in their own manner of writing, but the contracting and extending the lines and sense of others, if the first authors might speak for themselves, would appear a thankless office; and if the readers did confer with the originals, they would confess they were not thoroughly or rightly informed. Epitomes are helpful to the memory, and of good private use, but set forth for public monuments, accuse the industrious writers of delivering much impertinency, and divert many to close and shallow cisterns, whose leisure might well be acquainted with more deep and open springs. In brief, what I heard sometimes spoken of Ramus, I believe of those thrifty compendiums: they show a short course to those who are contented to know a little, and a sure way to such whose care is not to understand much. Commentaries are guilty of the contrary extreme, stifling the text with infinite additions, and screwing those conceits from the words, which, if the authors were set on the rack, they would never acknowledge. He who is discreet in bestowing his pains, will suspect those places to be desert and barren, where the way can not be found without a guide; and leave curiosity in inquest of obscurities, which, before it receive content, doth lose or tire itself with digressions.

Discretion is the most universal art, and hath more professors than students. Discretion, as I understand it, consists in the useful knowledge of what is fit and comely; of necessary direction in the practice of moral duties, but most esteemed in the composing and framing civil behavior: men ordinarily being better content to be dishonest, than to be conscious to themselves that they are unmannerly. Few study it, because it is attained rather by a natural felicity, than by any endeavor or pains; and many profess it, presuming on sufficiency to censure others; and as unable to discern themselves, concerning their own defects, as unaccustomed to be rightly informed. It little concerns men indifferent what we do in that kind; and our friends are either nothing offended therewith, or unwilling to offend us with their relation: our enemies seldom speak of it in our hearing, and when we hear, we as hardly believe them.

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 strange 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 sign 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, por 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 gainers 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 gifts 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 a 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

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