« ПредишнаНапред »
less the subject or matter require a more manly aod vigorous expression. I cannot allow you a curiosity, unless it be like a lady's dress, negligently neat. Go not to counsel for every word, yet neglect not to choose. Be more careful to think before you write than before you speak; because letters pass not away as words do; they remain upon record, are still under the examination of the eye, and tortured they are, sometimes, to confess that of which they were never guilty. That is rare, indeed, that can endure reading. Understand the person well to whom you write. If he be your inferior, or equal, you may give your pen the more liberty, and play with it sometimes; but if to your superior, then regard is to be had to your interest with him, his leisure, and capacity; all which will be so many caveats and instructions to the humility, neatness, and brevity of your style. You shall do well if, like a skilful painter, you draw your sense, and the proportions of your business, in a plain draft first, and then give it colour, heightening, and beauty afterwards; and, ifitbeduly considered, it is no such (great) commendation to be praised for penning a letter without making a blot, not in my judgment; therefore, after you have pondered and penned, then examine and correct. A negligent manner of writing, methinks, is a kind of an affront and a challenge, not a letter, to a person of distinction. Avoid all roughness, swelling, poverty, and looseness in your style; let it be rather riotoUs than niggardly. The flowing pen may be helped, but the dry never. Especially shun obscurity, be* cause it must go a-begging for an interpreter: and why should you write to intreat him to understand you if he can. Be this your general rule, both in your writing and speaking,—labour for sense, rather than words; and for your book, take this also, study men and things.
16th. Perhaps you will expect, after all these instructions, I should commend unto you some copy or example to imitate. As for the Greek and Latin tongues, I leave it to your tutor's choice. In the English, I know no style I should sooner prefer to your imitation, than that of Sir Francis Bacon, that excellent unhappy man. And to give you direction for all imitation in general, as well as of his style in particular, be careful so to imitate, as by drawing forth the very spirits of the writer, you may, if possible, become himself. Imitate him, but do not mock him: for the face of a bull, or a horse< is more comely, than of an ape or a monkey, though the ape most resembles man, the most beautiful of all creatures; and, in that regard, your own genuine and natural style may show more comely than an imitation of Sir Francis
VOL. II. p
Bacon, if it be not exactly done. I would have the imitator be as the son of the father, not the ape of a man; that is, to put on the likeness of a child, not of an ape: for the ape only imitates the deformities and the ridiculous actions of man, the son represents all the graces of the face, gesture, and every figure of his father; and, in this representation, he hath something of himself too. I shall add but one caution more, and that is this — as he can never run well who shall resolve to set his foot in the footsteps of one that went before, so neither shall any man write well, who precisely and superstitiously ties himself to another's words. And with this liberty I wish you still happy.
17th. And such will all your studies be, if you constantly put in practice this my last admonition, which I reserved purposely for this place. It is, that you be careful every night, before you go to bed, or perform your devotions, to withdraw yourself into your closet, or some private part of your chamber, and there call memory, your steward, to account what she has heard or read that day worthy of observation; what she hath laid up, what she spent; how the stock of knowledge improves, where and how she decays. A notable advantage will this bring to your studies at present, and hereafter (if that way employed) to your estate. But if this course be strictly observed each night between God and your soul, there will the true advantage appear. Fail not, therefore, Frank, what employment soever you have, every night, as in the presence of God and his holy angels, to pass an inquisition on your soul what ill it hath done, what good it hath left undone; what slips, what falls5t hath had that day; what temptations hath prevailed upon it; and by what means, or after what manner. Ransack every corner of thy dark heart, and let not the least peccadillo, or kindness to a sin, lurk there, but bring it forth, bewail it, protest against it, detest it, and scourge it by a severe sorrow. Thus each day's breach between God and your soul being made up, with more quiet and sweet hope thou mayst dispose thyself to rest. Certainly, at last, this inquisition (if steadily pursued) will vanquish all customary sins, whatever they be. I speak it upon this reason, because I presume thou wilt not have the face to appear before God every night confessing the same offence; and thou wilt forbear it, lest thou mayst seem to mock God, or despise him, which is dreadful but to imagine. This finished, for a delightful close to the whole business of the day, cause your servant to read something that is excellently written or done, to lay you to sleep with it, that, if it may be, even your dreams may be profitable or learned. This you will find, by your own experience, true, that things will appear more naked to the eye of the soul, when the eye of the body is shut; which, together with the quiet of the night, that time is rendered a most fit season for contemplation and contrivance. As a great advantage, not only to your book, but health and business also, I cannot but advise and enjoin you to accustom yourself to rise early; for, take it from me, no lover of his bed did ever yet form great and noble things. Now, though I allowed eight hours for your bed, with the preparation to it and from it, yet this was rather to point out the utmost limits beyond which you should not go, rather than to oblige you to observe such a proportion exactly. Borrow, therefore, of these golden morning flowers, and . bestow them on your book. A noble person, of all others, has need of learning, and therefore should contribute most time to it; for, besides that it gilds his honour, and sets off his birth, it becomes his employment, which a nobleman, of all others, must not want, if he will secure his soul, honour, and estate, all which are in most certain danger from idleness, the rock of nobility, considering the plenty of his table, and society, with all sorts of temptation; if, therefore, he be a hard student, he is not at leisure to be vitious; the devil knows it is to no purpose to tempt a busy