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As far up towards Heaven the branches grow, So far the root sinks down to Hell below.
Another horrible disgrace to greatness is, that it is for the most part in pitiful want and distress: what a wonderful thing is this! Unless it degenerate into avarice, and so cease to be greatness, it falls perpetually into such necessities, as drive it into all the meanest and most sordid ways of borrowing, cozenage, and robbery:
Mancipiis locuples, eget æris Cappadocum rex.
This is the case of almost all great men, as well as of the poor king of Cappadocia: they abound with slaves, but are indigent of money. The ancient Roman emperors, who had the riches of the whole world for their revenue, had wherewithal to live (one would have thought) pretty well at ease, and to have been exempt from the pressures of extreme poverty. But yet with most of them it was much otherwise; and they fell perpetually into such miserable penury, that they were forced to devour or squeeze most of their friends and servants, to cheat with infamous projects, to ransack and pillage all their provinces. This fashion of imperial grandeur is imitated by all inferior and subordinate sorts of it, as if it were a point of honour. They must be cheated of a third part of their estates, two other thirds they must expend in vanity; so that they remain debtors for all the necessary provisions of life, and have no way to satisfy those debts, but out of the succours and supplies of rapine: " as riches increase" (says Solomon) so do the mouths that devour them 7." The master mouth has no more than before. The owner, methinks, is like Ocnus in the fable, who is perpetually winding a rope of hay, and an ass at the end perpctually eating it.
Out of these inconveniences arises naturally one more, which is, that no greatness can be satisfied or contented with itself: still, if it could mount up a little higher, it would be happy, if it could gain but that point, it would obtain all its desires; but yet at last, when it is got up to the very top of the Pic of Teneriff, it is in very great danger of breaking its neck downwards, but in no possibility of ascending upwards into the seat of tranquillity above the Moon. The first ambitious men in the world, the old giants, are said to have nade an heroical attempt of scaling Heaven in despite of the gods: and they cast Ossa upon Olympus, and Pelion upon Ossa: two or three mountains more, they thought, would have done their business: but the thunder spoilt all the work, when they were come up to the third story:
absolute tyrant of three kingdoms, which was the third, and almost touched the Heaven which be affected, is believed to have died with grief and discontent, because he could not attain to the honest name of a king, and the old formality of a crown, though he had before exceeded the power by a wicked usurpation. If he could have compassed that, he would perhaps have wanted something else that is necessary to felicity, and pined away for want of the title of an emperor or a god. The reason of this is, that greatness has no reality in nature, being a creature of the fancy, a notion that consists only in relation and comparison: it is indeed an idol; but St. Paul teaches us, "that an idol is nothing in the world." There is in truth no rising or meridian of the Sun, but only in respect to several places: there is no right or left, no upper-hand in nature; every thing is little, and every thing is great, according as it is diversely compared. There may be perhaps some village in Scotland or Ireland, where I might be a great man: and in that case I should be like Cæsar (you would wonder how Cæsar and I should be like one another in any thing); and choose rather to be the first man of the village, than second at Rome. Our country is called Great Britany, in regard only of a lesser of the same name; it would be but a ridiculous epithet for it, when we consider it together with the kingdom of China. That, too, is but a pitiful rood of ground, in comparison of the whole Earth besides: and this whole globe of Earth, which we account so immense a body, is but one point or atom in relation to those numberless worlds that are scattered up and down in the infinite space of the sky which we be hold.
The other many inconveniences of grandeur I have spoken of dispersedly in several chapters; and shall end this with an ode of Horace, not exactly copied, but truly imitated,
HORACE. Lib. III. Ode I.
Odi profanum vulgus, &c.
ness hold, Not yet discolour'd with the love of gold Which makes it look so gilded and so foul), (That jaundice of the soul, The Muse inspires my song; hark, and observe To you, ye very few, these truths I tell;
If of your pleasures and desires no end be found,
Ye strive for more, as if ye lik'd it not.
second is like the foolish chough, which loves to steal money only to hide it. The first does much harm to mankind; and a little good too, to some few: the second does good to none; no, not to himself. The first can make no excuse to God, or angels, or rational men, for his actions: the second can give no reason or colour, not to the Devil himself, for what he does; he is a slave to Mammon without wages. The first makes a shift to be beloved; ay, and envied too by some people; the second is the universal object of hatred and contempt. There is no vice has been so pelted with good sentences, and especially by the poets, who have pursued it with stories, and fables, and allegories, and allusions; and moved, as we say, every stone to fling at it: among all which I do not remember a more fine and gentleman-like correction, than that which was given it by one line of Ovid:
Desunt luxuriæ multa, avaritiæ omnia.
THERE are two sorts of avarice: the one is but of a bastard kind, and that is, the rapacious appetite of gain; not for its own sake, but for the pleasure of refunding it immediately through all the channels of pride and luxury: the other is the true kind, and properly so called; which is a restless and unsatiable desire of riches, nor for any farther end or use, but only to hoard, and preserve, and perpetually increase them. The covetous man, of the first kind, is like a greedy ostrich, which devours any metal; but it is with an intent to feed upon it, and in effect, it makes a shift to digest and excern it,
Much is wanting to luxury, all to avarice.
To which saying, I have a mind to add one member, and tender it thus,
Poverty wants some, luxury many, avarice all things.
Somebody says of a virtuous and wise man, "that having nothing, he has all :" this is just his antipode, who, having all things, yet has nothing. He is a guardian eunuch to his beloved gold divi eos amatores esse maximos, sed nil potesse. They are the fondest lovers, but impotent to enjoy.
And, oh, what man's condition can be worse Than his, whom plenty starves, and blessings
The beggars but a common fate deplore, The rich poor man's emphatically poor.
I wonder how it comes to pass, that there has never been any law made against him: against him do I say? I mean, for him: as there are public provisions made for all other madmen: it is very reasonable that the king should appoint some persons (and I think the courtiers would not be against this proposition) to manage his estate during his life (for his heirs commonly need not that care): and out of it to make it their business to see, that he should not want alimony befitting his condition, which he could never get out of his own cruel fingers. We relieve idle vagrants, and counterfeit beggars; but have no care at all of these really poor men, who are, methinks, to be respectfully treated, in I might be endless. regard of their quality. against them, but I am almost choaked with the super-abundance of the matter; too much plen
The author, well acquainted with the taste of his readers, would not disgust their delicacy by letting them know that this "somebody ?? was St. Paul, [2 Cor. vi. 10.]-though the sense and expression would have done honour to Plato.
ty impoverishes me, as it does them. I will conclude this odious subject with part of Horace's first satire, which take in his own familiar style:
I admire, Mæcenas, how it comes to pass, That no man ever yet contented was, Nor is, nor perhaps will be, with that state In which his own choice plants him, or his fate. Happy the merchant, the old soldier cries: The merchant, beaten with tempestuous skies, Happy the soldier! one half-hour to thee Gives speedy death, or glorious victory : The lawyer, knockt up early from his rest By restless clients, calls the peasant blest: The peasant, when his labours ill succeed, Envies the mouth, which only talk does feed. "Tis not (I think you'll say) that I want store Of instances, if here I add no more; They are enough to reach, at least a mile, Beyond long orator Fabius's style. But hold, ye, whom no fortune e'er endears, Gentlemen, malecontents, and mutineers, Who bounteous Jove so often cruel call, 'Behold, Jove's now resolv'd to please you all. Thou soldier, be a merchant: merchant, thou A soldier be and lawyer, to the plough. Change all your stations straight: why do they stay? The devil a man will change, now when he may. Were I in general Jove's abused case, By Jove I'd cudgel this rebellious race: But he 's too good; be all, then, as ye were ; However, make the best of what ye are, And in that state be cheerful and rejoice, Which either was your fate, or was your choice. No, they must labour yet, and sweat, and toil, And very miserable be awhile;
But 'tis with a design only to gain
What may their age with plenteous ease main
The prudent pismire does this lesson teach,
He cheerfully does his past labours eat:
In thy vast barns millions of quarters store;
Do you within the bounds of nature sive,
Than I do from a small one? If your will
To some great river for it must you go,
And must be kept with reverence; as if thou
Paraphrase on HORACE, B. III. Od. xvi.
TOWER of brass, one would have said,
And, as he walk'd, t' himself alone he smil❜d,
And, when he slept, his rest was deep:
A magical receipt in love,
Which arm'd him stronger, and which help'd him
and draw up all bridges against so numerous an enemy.
The truth of it is, that a man in much business must either make himself a knave, or else the world will make him a fool: and, if the injury went no farther than the being laught at, a wise man would content himself with the revenge of retaliation; but the case is much worse, for these civil cannibals too, as well as the wild ones, not only dance about such a taken stranger, but at last devour him. A sober man cannot get too soon out of drunken company, though they be never so kind and merry among themselves ;it is not unpleasant only, but dangerous, to him.
Do ye wonder that a virtuous man should love to be alone? It is hard for him to be otherwise; he is so, when he is among ten thousand neither is the solitude so uncomfortable to be alone without any other creature, as it is to be alone in the midst of wild beasts. Man is to man all kind of beasts; a fawning dog, a roaring lion, a thieving fox, a robbing wolf, a dissembling crocodile, a From towns and courts, camps of the rich and treacherous decoy, and a rapacious vulture. The
great, The vast Xerxean army, I retreat; And to the small Laconic forces fly,
Which holds the straits of poverty. Cellars and granaries in vain we fill,
With all the bounteous Summer's store, If the mind thirst and hunger still: The poor rich man's emphatically poor.
Slaves to the things we too much prize, We masters grow of all that we despise.
civilist, methinks, of all nations, are those whom we account the most barbarous; there is some moderation and good-nature in the Toupinambaltians, who eat no men but their enemies, whilst we learned and polite and Christian Europeans, like so many pikes and sharks, prey upon every thing that we can swallow. It is the great boast of eloquence and philosophy, that they first congregated men dispersed, united them into societies, and built up the houses and the walls of cities. I wish they could unravel all they had woven; that we might have our woods and our innocence again, instead of our castles and our policies. They have assembled many thousands of scattered people into one body: it is true, they have done so; they have brought them together into cities to cozen, and into armies to murder, one another: they found them hunters and fishers of wild creatures: they have made them hunters and fishers of their bretheren: they boast to have reduced them to a state of peace, when the truth is, they have only taught them an art of war: they have framed, I must confess, wholesome laws for the restraint of vice, but they raised first that devil, which now they conjure and cannot bind : though there were before no punishments for wickedness, yet there was less committed, because there were no rewards for it.
Subtle as lightning, bright, and quick, and fierce,
To blow up towns, a golden mine did spring,
Let all the world slave to this tyrant be,
Yet it shall never conquer me.
And wisdom is a tower of stronger brass.
A field of corn, a fountain, and a wood,
That more than this falls to his share.
To him who much desires. Thrice happy he
But the men, who praise philosophy from this topic, are much deceived: let oratory answer
IN MUCH COMPANY.
THE DANGERS OF AN HONEST MAN for itself, the tinkling perhaps of that may unite a swarm; it never was the work of philosophy to assemble multitudes, but to regulate only, and govern them.when they were assembled; to make the best of an evil, and bring them, as much as is possible, to unity again. Avarice and ambition only were the first builders of towns, and founders of empire; they said, "Go to, let us build us a city and a tower whose top may reach unto Heaven, and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the earth 9." What was the beginning of Rome, the metropolis of all the world? What was it, but a concourse of thieves, and a sanctuary of critai
If twenty thousand naked Americans were not able to resist the assaults of but twenty well-armed Spaniards, I see little possibility for one honest man to defend himself against twenty thousand knaves who are all furnished cap à pé, with the defensive arms of worldy prudence, and the offensive too of craft and malice. He will find no less odds than this against him, if he have much to do in human affairs. The only advice therefore which I can give him is, to be sure not to venture his person any longer in the open campaign, to retreat and entrench himself, to stop up all avenues,
9 Gen. xi. 4.
nals? It was justly named by the augury of no less than twelve vultures, and the founder cemented his walls with the blood of his brother. Not unlike to this was the beginning even of the first town too in the world, and such is the original sin of most cities: their actual increase daily with their age and growth; the more people, the more wicked all of them; every one brings in his part to inflame the contagion: which becomes at last so universal and so strong, that no precepts can be sufficient preservatives, nor any thing secure our safety, but flight from among the infected.
the cleanly; the sight of folly and impiety, vexatious to the wise and pious.
Lucretius 2, by his favour, though a good poet, was but an ill-natured man, when he said, it was delightful to see other men in a great storm: and no less ill-natured should I think Democritus, who laughed at all the world, but that he retired himself so much ont of it, that we may perceive he took no great pleasure in that kind of mirth. I have been drawn twice or thrice by company to go to Bedlam, and have seen others very much delighted with the fantastical extravagancy of so many various madnesses; which upon me wrought so contrary an effect, that I always returned, not only melancholy, but even sick with the sight. My compassion there was perhaps too tender, for I meet a thousand madmen abroad, without any perturbation; tho', to weigh the matter justly, the total loss of reason is less
exact judge of human blessings, of riches, honours, beauty, even of wit itself, should pity the abuse of them, more than the want.
We ought, in the choice of a situation, to regard above all things the healthfulness of the place, and the healthfulness of it for the mind, rather than for the body. But suppose (which is hardly to be supposed) we had antidote enough against this poison; nay, suppose further, we were always and at all points armed and provid-deplorable than the total depravation of it. An ed, both against the assaults of hostility, and the mines of treachery, it will yet be but an uncomfortable life to be ever in alarms; though we were compassed round with fire, to defend ourselves from wild beasts, the lodging would be unpleasant, because we must always be obliged to watch that fire, and to fear no less the defects of our guard, than the diligences of our enemy. The sum of this is, that a virtuous man is in ger to be trod upon and destroyed in the crowd of his contraries, nay, which is worse, to be changed and corrupted by them; and that it is impossible to escape both these inconveniencies, without so much caution as will take away the whole quiet, that is the happiness, of his life.
Briefly, though a wise man could pass never so securely through the great roads of human life, yet he will meet perpetually with so many objects and occasions of compassion, grief, shame, anger, hatred, indignation, and all passions but dan-envy (for he will find nothing to deserve that), that he had better strike into some private path; nay, go so far, if he could, out of the common way, ut nec facta audiat Pelopidarum; that he might not so much as hear of the actions of the sons of Adam. But, whither shall we fly then? into the deserts, like the ancient hermits?
Ye see then, what he may lose; but, I pray, what can he get there?
Quid Romæ faciam? Mentiri nescio 1.
What should a man of truth and honesty do at Rome? he can neither understand nor speak the language of the place; a naked man may swim in the sea, but it is not the way to catch fish there; they are likelier to devour him, than he them, if he bring no nets, and use no deceits. I think therefore it was wise and friendly advice, which Martial gave to Fabian, when he met him newly arrived at Rome:
Honest and poor, faithful in word and thought;
Nor with false whispers th' innocent betray:
Nay, if nothing of all these were in the case, yet the very sight of uncleanness is loathsome to
Juv. Sat. iii. 41.
-Quà terra patet, fera regnat Erinnys, In facinus jarâsse putes-3
One would think that all mankind had bound themselves by an oath to do all the wickedness they can; that they had all (as the scripture speaks) "sold themselves to sin :" the difference only is, that some are a little more crafty (and but a little, God knows) in making of the bargain. I thought, when I first went to dwell in the country, that without doubt I should have met there with the simplicity of the old poetical golden age ; I thought to have found no inhabitants there, but such as the shepherds of sir Phil. Sydney in Arcadia, or of Monsieur d'Urfé upon the banks of Lignon; and began to consider with myself, which way I might recommend no less to posterity the happiness and innocence of the men of Chertsea: but to confess the truth, I perceived quickly, by infallible demonstrations, that I was still in Old England, and not in Arcadia or La Forrest; that, if I could not content myself with any thing less than exact fidelity in human conversation, I had almost as good go back and seek for it in the Court, or the Exchange, or Westminster-hall. I ask again, then, whither shall we fly, or what shall we do? The world may so come in a man's way, that he cannot choose but salute it; he must take heed, though, not to go a whoring after it. If, by any lawful vocation, or just
2 Lucr. lib. ii.
3 Ovid. Metam. i. 241.