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for whereas it hath been well said, that the arch-flatterer, with whom all the petty flatterers have intelligence, is a man's self; certainly the lover is more; for there was never proud man thought so absurdly well of himself as the lover doth of the person loved; and therefore it was well said, that it is impossible to love, and to be wise. Neither doth this weakness appear to others only, and not to the party loved, but to the loved most of all; except the love be reciprocal. For it is a true rule, that love is ever rewarded either with the reciprocal, or with an inward and secret contempt: by how much the more men ought to beware of this passion, which loseth not only other things but itself. As for the other losses, the poet's relation doth well figure them; that he that preferred Helena, quitted the gifts of Juno and Pallas: for whosoever esteemeth too much of amourous affection, quitteth both riches and wisdom. This passion hath his floods in the very times of weakness, which are, great prosperity and great adversity; though this latter hath been less observed: both which times kindle love, and make it more frequent, and therefore, show it to be the child of folly. They do best, who, if they cannot but admit love, yet make it keep quarter; and sever it wholly from their serious affairs and actions of life: for if it check once with business, it troubleth men's fortunes, and maketh men that they can no ways be true to their own ends. I know not how, but martial men are given to love: I think it is, but as they are given to wine; for perils commonly ask to be paid in pleasures. There is in man's nature a secret inclination and motion toward love of others, which, if it be not spent upon some one or a few, doth naturally spread itself toward many, and maketh men to become humane and charitable; as it is seen sometimes in friars. Nuptial love maketh mankind; friendly love perfecteth it; but wanton love corrupteth and embaseth it.
Whatsoever is under the moon is subject to corruption, alterations; and so long as thou livest upon earth, look not for other. Thou shalt not here find peaceable and cheerful days, quiet times, but rather clouds, storms, calumnies, such is our fate. And as those errant planets, in their distinct orbs, have their several motions, sometimes direct, stationary, retrograde, in apogeo, perigeo, oriental, occidental, combust, feral, free, and as astrologers will have their fortitudes and debilities, by reason of those good and bad irradiations, conferred to each other's site in the heavens, in their terms,
uses, ease, detriments, etc.; so we rise and fall in this world, ebb and flow, in and out, reared and dejected, lead a troublesome life, subject to many accidents and casualties of fortunes, variety of passions, infirmities, as well from ourselves as others.
Yea, but thou thinkest thou art more miserable than the rest, other men are happy in respect of thee, their miseries are but flea-bitings to thine, thou alone art unhappy, none so bad as thyself. Yet, if as Socrates said: All the men in the world should come and bring their grievances together, of body, mind, fortune, sores, ulcers, madness, epilepsies, agues, and all those common calamities of beggary, want, servitude, imprisonment, and lay them on a heap to be equally divided, wouldst thou share alike, and take thy portion, or be as thou art? Without question thou wouldst be as thou art. If some Jupiter should say, to give us all content:
Jam faciam quod vultis; eris tu, qui modò miles,
1 From The Anatomy of Melancholy,
Well, be 't so then: you, master soldier,
Every man knows his own but not others' defects and miseries and 'tis the nature of all men still to reflect upon themselves, their own misfortunes, not to examine or consider other men's, not to confer themselves with others: to recount their miseries, but not their good gifts, fortunes, benefits, which they have to ruminate on their adversity, but not once to think on their prosperity, not what they have, but what they want: to look still on them that go before, but not on those infinite numbers that come after; whereas many a man would think himself in heaven, a petty prince, if he had but the least part of that fortune which thou so much repinest at, abhorrest, and accountest a most vile and wretched state. How
thousands want that which thou hast? How many myriads of poor slaves, captives, of such as work day and night in coalpits, tin-mines, with sore toil to maintain a poor living, of such as labour in body and mind, live in extreme anguish and pain, all of which thou art free from? O fortunatos nimium bona si sua norînt; thou art most happy, if thou couldst be content and acknowledge thy happiness; Rem carendo, non fruendo cognoscimus, when thou shalt hereafter come to want that which thou now loathest, abhorrest, and art weary of, and tired with, when 'tis past, thou wilt say thou wast most happy: and, after a little miss, wish with all thine heart, thou hadst the same content again, mightst lead but such a life, a world for such a life; the remembrance of it is pleasant. Be silent, then, rest satisfied, desine, intuensque in aliorum infortunia, solare mentem, comfort thyself with other men's misfortunes, and as the moldiwarpe in Æsop told the fox, complaining for want of a tail, and the rest of his companions
tacete, quando me Oculis captum videtis; you complain of toys, but I am blind, be quiet. I say to thee be thou satisfied. It is recorded of the hares, that with a general consent they went to drown themselves, out of a feeling of their misery; but when they saw a company of frogs more fearful than they were, they began to take courage and comfort again. Confer thine estate with others. Similes aliorum respice casus, mitius ista feres. Be content and rest satisfied, for thou art well in respect of others; be thankful for that thou hast, that God hath done for thee, he hath not made thee a monster, a beast, a base creature, as he might, but a man, a Christian, such a man: consider aright of it, thou art full well as thou art. Quicquid vult, habere nemo potest, no man can have what he will: Illud potest nolle, quod non habet, he may choose whether he will desire that which he hath not: Thy lot is fallen, make the best of it. If we should all sleep at all times (as Endymion is said to have done), who then were happier than his fellow? Our life is but short, a very dream, and while we look about, Immortalitas adest, eternity is at hand. Our life is a pilgrimage on earth, which wise men pass with great alacrity. If thou be in woe, sorrow, want, distress, in pain, or sickness, think of that of our Apostle, God chastiseth them whom he loveth: They that sow in tears, shall reap in joy, Psal. cxxvi: 6. As the furnace proveth the potter's vessel, so doth temptation true men's thoughts, Eccl. xxv: 5. 'Tis for thy good, Periisses, nisi periisses: Hadst thou not been so visited, thou hadst been utterly undone; as gold in the fire, so men are tried in adversity. Tribulatio ditat: and which Camerarius hath well shadowed in an emblem of a thresher and corn:
Si tritura absit, paleis sunt abdita grana,
As threshing separates from straw the corn,
"Tis the very same which Chrysostome comments, Hom. 2, in 3 Mat. Corn is not separated but by threshing, nor men from worldly impediments but by tribulation. "Tis that which Cyprian ingerminates, Serm. 4, de Immort. "Tis that which Hierom, which all the Fathers inculcate, so we are catechised for eternity. 'Tis that which the proverb insinuates, Nocumentum documentum. 'Tis that which all the world rings into our ears. Deus unicum habet filium sine peccato, nullum sine flagello: God, saith Austin, hath one son without sin, none without correction. An expert seaman is tried in a tempest, a runner in a race, a captain in a battle, a valiant man in adversity, a Christian in temptation and misery. Basil. Hom. 8. We are sent as so many soldiers into this world, to strive with it, the flesh, the devil; our life is a warfare, and who knows it not? Non est ad astra mollis è terris via: and therefore peradventure this world here is made troublesome unto us, that, as Gregory notes, we should not be delighted by the way, and forget whither we are going.
Ite nunc fortes, ubi celsa magni
Go on then merrily to heaven. If the way be troublesome, and you in misery, in many grievances; on the other side you have many pleasant sports, objects, sweet smells, delightsome tastes, music, meats, herbs, flowers, etc., to recreate your senses. Or put a case, thou art now forsaken of the world, dejected, contemned, yet comfort thyself, as it was said to Agar in the wilderness, God sees thee, He takes notice of thee: there is a God above that can vindicate thy cause, that can relieve thee. And surely Seneca thinks he takes delight in seeing thee. The gods are well pleased when they see great men contending with adversity, as we are to see