from the examples you could set before, and the advice you could give, them. And this would be to your own advantage, as well as enable you to serve your friends.'

· For my friends,' he replied, ' I need not feel much concern, having already done for them all that was incumbent on me. For in my days of health, freshness, and youth, I distributed among my kindred and friends, that with which others part not till they be old and infirm : then unwillingly giving away what they can no longer enjoy. My friends, therefore, ought to rest content, and not expect me for their sakes to enslave myself to any


• Softly,' said Peter, · I mean not that you should be a slave to any king, but that you should assist and be useful to one.

· That is, be if possible more than a slave,' he replied.

• Term it as you will,' said Peter, • I see no other way in which you can be so useful to your friends and the public, and by which you can make your own condition happier.

'Happier !' replied Raphael. • Is that to be compassed in a way so abhorrent to my genius ? At present I live as I please, to which I believe few courtiers can pretend.

Vol. II. .

And there be so many who court the favour of the great, that it will be no loss if they be not troubled by me, or those of a temper ļike mine.'

Here, I said, I perceive Raphael you neither desire wealth nor greatness; and indeed I valye such a person more than any who are called the great. Yet I think you would act in a manner worthy of so generous and philosophical a spirit as yours, if you applied yourself to public affairs, though it might be a little unpleasant to, you. This you could never do so effectually as by entering into the council of some great prince, and putting him (as I know you would do) upon noble and worthy actions ; for good and evil flow from a prince over his country as . water from a fountain. Your learning without experience, or the experience you have had, without learning, would render you a very proper counsellor for any prince...

• You are mistaken,' he replied, as well in your judgment of me as of the matter in question ; for neither have I the talents you imagine, nor, had I them, would the public be one jot the better when I had sacrificed my quiet to, it. Most princes, think more of military affairs than of the useful arts of peace; and in these I neither have, nor desire to have, knowledge. They are generally more intent on acquiring new kingdoms, than on ably governing those which they possesș. Of their ministers, all either are, or think themselves, too wise to need assistance; and if they court any, it is only those to whom their prince shew

eth personal favour, that they may fix them in their interests. Indeed, nature hath so constituted us, that we all love flattery, and to please ourselves with our own conceits : the very crow loveth her young, and the ape her cubs.

• If in a court like this, where each envies his neighbour, and admires only himself, one should propose what he had read or seen, the rest would think their reputation and interest at stake if they could not run it down. If they had nothing else to allege, they would say, such things pleased our ancestors, and it were well for us were we but their equals. They would deem this a sufficient confutation of all that could be urged, as if it were a misfortune that any should be wiser than their fathers; and admitting all that was' good' in former ages, if aught better were proposed, they would shield themselves under this plea of reverence to past times. I have frequently met with this proud, morose, and absurd judgment, especially once in England

• Was you ever in England ?' cried I.

• I' was," he answered, and stáiď some months. It was not long after the suppression of the rebellion in the west, with that great slaughter of the poor who were engaged in it. I was then much obliged to that reverend prelate, John Morton, archbishop of Canterbury, cardinal and chancellor of England; a nian; dear Peter' (for Mr.'More knew

him well) whose wisdom and virtue commanded no less respect than his station. He was of the middle stature, and not yet broken by age ; his looks begat reverence rather than fear; his conversation was easy but grave. He sometimes took delight in trying those who came to him upon business, by speaking sharply to them, though with decency; and was much pleased when he discovered spirit and presence of mind without rising to impudence, for this resembled his own temper, and he judged it the fittest for business. He spoke with grace and weight, was eminently skilled in law, had a vast understanding, an extraordinary memory; and these rich gifts of nature were improved by study and experience. When I was in Eng land, the king depended much on his counsel, and the government seemed to be chiefly supported by him ; for he had been trained in business from his youth, and have ing experienced many vicissitudes of fortune, he had acquired wisdom at no small cost; and she is best retained when dearly purchased.

• One day when I was dining with him, an English lawyer, who happened to be at table, ran out in high commendation of the severity exercised against thieves, who, he said, were then hanged so fast, that there were sometimes twenty on one gibbet; adding, he could not enough wonder, since so few escaped, that there were yet so many who were stealing everywhere.

• Here I, who took the liberty of speaking freely before

the cardinal, observed, that there was no reason to wonder at the matter, since this mode of punishment was neither just in itself, nor beneficial to the public. The severity of it is too great, and the remedy ineffectual; simple theft not being so great a crime that it ought to cost life, and no punishment, however severe, being able to keep those from robbing who can find no other means of livelihood. “In this,' I added, “ not only you English, but a great · part of the world, imitate bad masters, who are readier to • chastise their scholars than to teach them. Dreadful pu“nishments are inflicted on thieves; but it were better to • make good provisions that all might know how to gain a

livelihood, and be preserved from the necessity of stealing . and of dying for it.'

• Care enough hath been taken of that,” said he. • There * be many handicrafts, and there is husbandry. By these they may live, unless they have a greater inclination to follow bad courses.'

• That will not serve your turn,' I replied. • Many lose their limbs in civil or foreign wars, as lately in the Cornish rebellion, and some time ago in your wars with France. Thus mutilated in the service of their country, they can no longer follow their old trades, and are too old to learn new ones. But since wars are only accidental, and have intervals, let us consider the occurrences of every day.

• Your numerous nobility are themselves as idle as drones,

« VorigeDoorgaan »