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The following collection of extracts from the best and most celebrated writers of English prose, from the days of Queen Elizabeth to those of Queen Victoria, was made at the request of the publishers, and is intended as a companion volume to “ The Thousand and One Gems of English Poetry,” by the same Editor. The difficulty of selection has been much greater in the present than in the previous case, owing not only to the vastness of the literary field to be traversed, but to the length of many of the extracts, which are necessarily deficient in the conciseness of poetical composition, and not so easily to be detached from the context and made to stand alone. It is manifestly impossible to comprise within a single volume a whole Cyclopædia of English prose literature, so as to include a specimen of every author. All that has been aimed at is selection from the works of the most famous writers who have flourished in Great Britain and America, arranged in chronological order, and classified according to subject. In a work depending so largely on individual taste as well as research, every one who has read much will of course be able to discover omissions, and to suggest the pieces for which he would have preferred to find a place. This is the inevitable fate of all selections, and must continue to be so as long as men's tastes differ, and their literary industry prefers one field of cultivation to another. With regard to contemporary literature, the difficulty of choice has been increased by the superabundance of material. To have included selections even from one-tenth of the writings of recently deceased authors, and those who still live to instruct or entertain their countrymen, would have extended the work to many volumes ; but the Editor hopes that, notwithstanding all omissions enforced upon him by this cause, the work will be found sufficiently varied and comprehensive. He has to return his thanks to Messrs. Longman & Co. for permission to include extracts from the works of Lord Macaulay and the Rev. Sydney Smith, and to Messrs. Chapman and Hall for permission to extract from the works of the late Charles Dickens. He would have been glad to offer the same acknowledgment to the proprietors of the copyright of the works of his friend Mr. Thackeray, who, if living, would not, he thinks, have been well pleased to be unrepresented in this collection ; but those gentlemen peremptorily refused permission. Had it not been that the Messrs. Routledge possess the copyright of one work to which Mr. Thackeray was a contributor, no specimen of that eminent writer could have appeared in these pages.
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[LORD BACON. 1561-1626.] game, some of quarrel, stood all sociably PROSPERITY AND ADVERSITY. together, listening unto the airs and
accords of the harp ; the sound whereof THE virtue of prosperity is temperance;
no sooner ceased, or was drowned by the virtue of adversity is fortitude. Pros- some louder noise, but every beast reperity is the blessing of the Old Testa- turned to his own nature. Wherein is ment; adversity is the blessing of the aptly described the nature and condition New, which carrieth the greater benedic- of men, who are full of savage and unretion and the clearer revelation of God's claimed desires of profit, of lust, of favour. Yet even in the Old Testament, revenge : which, as long as they give ear if you listen to David's harp, you shalí to precepts, to laws, to religion, sweetly hear as many hearselike airs as carols;
touched with eloquence and persuasion
It had been hard for him that spake pleasure of the heart by the pleasure of it, to have put more truth and untruth the eye. Certainly, virtue is like precious together few words, than in that odours, most fragrant where they are
“Whosoever is delighted in incensed or crushed : for prosperity doth solitude, is either a wild beast or a best discover vice, but adversity doth god;" for it is most true, that a natural best discover virtue.
and secret hatred and aversion towards society, in any man, hath somewhat of
the savage beast; but it is most untrue, GOVERNMENT.
that it should have any character at all
of the divine nature, except it proceed, IN Orpheus's theatre, all beasts and not out of a pleasure in solitude, but out birds assembled ; and, forgetting their of a love and desire to sequester a man's several appetites, some of prey, some of self for a higher conversation : such as is
found to have been falsely and feignedly faithful counsel, which a man receiveth in some of the heathens--as Epimenides, from his friend; but before you come to the Candian ; Numa, the Roman; Em- that, certain it is, that whosoever hath pedocles, the Sicilian ; and Apollonius, his mind fraught with many thoughts, his of Tyana ; and truly, and really, in wits and understanding do clarify and divers of the ancient hermits and holy break up, in the communicating and disfathers of the church. But little do men coursing with another: he tosseth his perceive what solitude is, and how far it thoughts more easily—he marshalleth extendeth ; for a crowd is not company, them more orderly-he seeth how they and faces are but a gallery of pictures, and look when they are turned into words talk but a tinkling cymbal where there is finally, he waxeth wiser than himself ; no love. The Latin adage meeteth with and that more by an hour's discourse it a little: 'Magna civitas, magna soli- than by a day's meditation. It was well tudo;' because in a great town friends said by Themistocles to the king of are scattered, so that there is not that Persia, “That speech was like cloth of fellowship, for the most part, which is Arras, opened and put abroad”- whereby in less neighbourhoods; but we may go the imagery doth appear in figure, whereas farther, and affirm most truly, that it in thoughts they lie but as in packs. is a mere and miserable solitude to want Neither is this second fruit of friendship, true friends, without which the world is in opening the understanding, restrained but a wilderness; and, even in this scene only to such friends as are able to give a also of solitude, whosoever, in the frame man counsel (they indeed are best), but of his nature and affections, is unfit for even without that a man learneth of him. friendship, he taketh it of the beast, and self, and bringeth his own thoughts to not from humanity.
light, and whetteth his wits as against a This communicating of a man's self stone, which itself cuts not. In a word, to his friend, works two contrary effects, a man were better relate himself to for it redoubleth joys, and cutteth griefs a statue or picture, than to suffer his in halves ; for there is no man that im- thoughts to pass in smother. parteth his joys to his friend, but he joyeth Add now, to make this second fruit of the more, and no man that imparteth his friendship complete, that other point griefs to his friend, but he grieveth the which lieth more open, and falleth within less. So that it is, in truth, of operation vulgar observation – which is faithful upon a man's mind of like virtue as the counsel from a friend. Heraclitus saith alchymists use to attribute to their stone well, in one of his enigmas, “ Dry light for man's body, that it worketh all con- is ever the best ;” and certain it is, that trary effects, but still to the good and the light that a man receiveth by counsel benefit of nature ; but yet, without pray- from another, is drier and purer than ing in aid of alchymists, there is a mani. that which cometh from his own underfest image of this in the ordinary course standing and judgment, which is ever of nature ; for, in bodies, union strength-infused and drenched in his affections and eneth and cherisheth any natural action, customs. So as there is as much differand, on the other side, weakeneth and ence between the counsel that a friend dulleth any violent impression and even giveth, and that a man giveth himself, as so is it of minds.
there is between the counsel of a friend The second fruit of friendship is health- and of a flatterer; for there is no such ful and sovereign for the understanding, flatterer as is a man's self, and there is no as the first is for the affections; for friend such remedy against flattery of a man's ship maketh indeed a fair day in the self as the liberty of a friend. Counsel affections from storm and tempests, but it is of two sorts ; the one concerning manmaketh daylight in the understanding, ners, the other concerning business : for out of darkness and confusion of thoughts. the first, the best preservative to keep the Neither is this to be understood only of mind in health is the faithful admonition
of a friend. The calling of a man's self present business, how he dasheth upon
" that a friend is another think, if he will, that two eyes see no himself; for that a friend is far more than more than one; or, that a gamester seeth himself.” Men have their time, and die always more than a looker-on; or, that a many times in desire of some things man in anger is as wise as he that hath which they principally take to heart; the said over the four-and-twenty letters ; or, bestowing of a child, the finishing of a that a musket may be shot off as well work, or the like. If a man have a true upon the arm as upon a rest ; and such friend, he may rest almost secure that the other fond and high imaginations, to care of those things will continue after think himself all in all: but when all is him; so that a man hath, as it were, two done, the help of good counsel is that lives in his desires. A man hath a body, which setteth business straight; and if and that body is confined to a place; but any man think that he will take counsel, where friendship is, all offices of life are, but it shall be by pieces ; asking counsel as it were, granted to him and his deputy; in one business of one man, and in for he may exercise them by his friend. another business of another man; it is as How many things are there which a man well (that is to say, better, perhaps, than cannot, with any face or comeliness, say if he asked none at all), but he runneth or do himself ? A man can scarce allege two dangers; one, that he shall not be his own merits with modesty, much less faithfully counselled-for it is a rare thing, extol them; a man cannot sometimes except it be from a perfect and entire brook to supplicate or beg; and a num. friend, to have counsel given, but such as ber of the like: but all these things are shall be bowed and crooked to some ends graceful in a friend's mouth, which are which he hath that giveth it; the other, blushing in a man's own. So, again, a that he shall have counsel given, hurtful man's person hath many proper relations and unsafe (though with good meaning), which he cannot put off. A man cannot and mixed partly of mischief and partly speak to his son but as a father; to his of remedy-even as if you would call a wife but as a husband; to his enemy but physician, that is thought good for the upon terms: whereas a friend may speak cure of the disease you complain of, but as the case requires, and not as it sorteth is unacquainted with your bodyand with the person. But to enumerate these therefore
, may put you in a way for pre- things were endless: I have given the sent cure, but overthroweth your health rule, where a man cannot fitly play his in some other kind, and so cure the dis- own part; if he have not a friend, he ease, and kill the patient: but a friend, may quit the stage. that is wholly acquainted with a man's estate, will beware, by furthering any
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