Images de page


Heaven doth with us as we with torches do:

Not light them for themselves; for if our virtues
Did not go forth of us, 'twere all alike

As if we had them not. Spirits are not finely touched,
But to fine issues. Nature never lends

The smallest scruple of her excellence;
But, like a thrifty goddess, she determines
Herself the glory of a creditor,

Both thanks and use.


Sweet are the uses of adversity

Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,

Wears yet a precious jewel in his head;
And this our life, exempt from public haunt,

Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brcoks,
Sermons in stones, and good in everything.


JEREMY TAYLOR. Born 1613; Died 1667.

He was of humble birth, and was at first raised into consideration through the patronage of Archbishop Laud. Siding with the party of the Royalists, he was chaplain to Charles I, during the war : was in adversity during the Commonwealth, and came again into favour with the Restoration.

His chief works are Holy Living and Holy Dying and The Golden Grove: they are grave and devotional, and yet at the same time picturesque and imaginative. His is perhaps the most poetical of all English prose.


REMOVE from thyself all provocations and incentives to anger; especially: I. Games of chance and great wagers. Patroclus killed his friend, the son of Amphidamas, in his rage and sudden fury, rising upon a cross game at tables. Such also are petty curiosities and worldly business and carefulness about it; but manage thyself with indifferency, or contempt of those external things, and do not spend a passion upon them; for it is more than they are worth. But they that desire but few things, can be crossed but in a few. II. In not heaping up with an ambitious or curious prodigality, any very curious or choice utensils, seals, jewels, glasses, precious stones; because those very many accidents, which happen in the spoiling or loss of these rarities, are in event an irresistible cause of violent anger. III. Do not entertain nor suffer tale

bearers for they abuse our ear first, and then our credulity, and then steal our patience; and it may be for a lie; and if it be true, the matter is not considerable; or if it be, yet it is pardonable. And we may always escape with patience at one of these outlets; either, 1. By not hearing slanders; or, 2. By not believing them; or, 3. By not regarding the thing; or, 4. By forgiving the person. IV. To this purpose also it may serve well if we choose (as much as we can) to live with peaceable persons; for that prevents the occasions of confusion; and if we live with prudent persons, they will not easily occasion our disturbance. But because those things are not in many men's power, therefore I propound this rather as a felicity than a remedy or a duty, and an art of prevention rather than of cure.

Be not inquisitive into the affairs of other men, nor the faults of thy servants, nor the mistakes of thy friends; but what is offered to you, use according to the former rules; but do not thou go out to gather sticks to kindle a fire to burn thine own house. And add this: If my friend said or did well in that for which I am angry, I am in the fault, not he; but if he did amiss, he is in the misery, not I; for either he was deceived, or he was malicious; and either of them both is all one with a miserable person; and that is an object of pity, not of anger.

Use all reasonable discourses to excuse the faults of others; considering that there are many circumstances of time, of person, of accident, of inadvertency, of

infrequency, of aptness to amend, of sorrow for doing it; and it is well that we take any good in exchange; for the evil is done or suffered.

In contentions be always passive, never active; upon the defensive, not the assaulting part; and then also give a gentler answer, receiving the furies and indiscretions of the other like a stone into a bed of moss and soft compliance; and you shall find it sit down quietly; whereas anger and violence makes the contention loud and long, and injurious to both the parties.

If anger rises suddenly and violently, first restrain it with consideration, and then let it end in a hearty prayer for him that did the real or seeming injury. The former of the two stops its growth, and the latter quite kills it, and makes amends for its monstrous and involuntary birth.


A man is a bubble, said the Greek proverb: which Lucian represents with advantages and its proper circumstances, to this purpose: saying, that all the world is a storm, and men rise up in their several generations like bubbles descending from the dew of heaven, from a tear and drop of rain, from nature and Providence; and some of these instantly sink into the deluge of their first parent, and are hidden in a sheet of water, having had no other business in the world, but to be born that they might be able to die; others float up and down two or three turns, and suddenly disappear, and give their place to others; and they

that live longest upon the face of the waters are in perpetual motion, restless and uneasy, and being crushed with the great drop of a cloud sink into flatness and a froth; the change not being great, it being hardly possible it should be more a nothing than it was before. So is every man he is born in vanity and sin; he comes into the world like morning mushrooms, soon thrusting up their heads into the air, and conversing with their kindred of the same production, and as soon they turn into dust and forgetfulness.

If the bubble stands the shock of a bigger drop and outlives the chances of a child, then the young man dances like a bubble empty and gay, and shines like a dove's neck, or the image of a rainbow, which hath no substance, and whose very imagery and colours are fantastical; and so he dances out the gaiety of his youth, and is all the while in a storm.

And, therefore, the wise men of the world have contended who shall best fit man's condition with words signifying his vanity and short abode. Homer calls a man a leaf, the smallest, the weakest part of a short lived, unsteady plant. Pindar calls him the dream of a shadow: another, the dream of the shadow of smoke. But St. James spake by a more excellent spirit, saying, Our life is but a vapour.

A man is so vain, so unfixed, so perishing a creature, that he cannot long last in the scene of fancy: a man goes off and is forgotten like the dream of a distracted person. The sum of all is this, that thou art a man; than whom there is not in the world any greater

« PrécédentContinuer »