Page images
PDF
EPUB

181

SECTION IV.

BISHOP HALL.

All that I can say for myself, is a desire of doing good ; which if it were as fervent in richer hearts, the church, which now we see comely, would then be glorious. This honest ambition hath carried me to neglect the fear of seeming prodigal of my little; and, while I see others' talents rusting in the earth, hath drawn me to traffic with mine in public.

REAL AND APPARENT HAPPINESS.

We see

We pity the folly of the lark, which while it playeth with the feather and stoopeth to the glass is caught in the fowler's net; and yet cannot see ourselves alike made fools by Satan : who, deluding us by the vain feathers and glasses of the world, suddenly enwrappeth us in his snares. not the nets indeed : it is too much that we shall feel them, and that they are not so easily escaped after, as before avoided. O Lord keep thou mine eyes from beholding vanity. And, though mine eyes see it, let not my heart stoop to it, but loath it afar off. And, if I stoop at any time and be taken, set thou my soul at liberty, that I may say, my soul is escaped, even as a bird out of the snare of the fowler; the snare is broken, and I am delivered. *

Cent. ii. 25.

[graphic][ocr errors]
[graphic]

ORDER OF ATTAINING OBJECTS.

I will account virtue the best riches, knowledge the next, riches the worst : and therefore will labour to be virtuous and learned, without condition; as for riches, if they fall in my way, I refuse them not; but if not, I desire them not.*

IGNORANCE AND INTELLIGENCE.

Tell a plain country man, that the sun, or some higher or lesser star is much bigger than his cart

* Cent. ii. 44.

Lord Bacon says, as for the true marshalling of men's pursuits towards their fortune, as they are more or less material, I hold them to stand thus; first, the amendment of their own minds ; for the remove of the impediments of the mind will sooner clear the passages of fortune, than the obtaining fortune will remove the impediments of the mind. In the second place I set down wealth and means; which I know most men would have placed first, because of the general use which it beareth towards all variety of occasions ; but that opinion I may condemn with like reason as Machiavel doth that other, that moneys were the sinews of the wars; whereas, saith he, the true sinews of the wars are the sinews of men's arms, that is, a valiant, populous, and military nation ; and he voucheth aptly the authority of Solon, who, when Crosus showed him his treasury of gold, said to him, that if another came that had better iron, he would be master of his gold. In like manner it may be truly affirmed that it is not moneys that are the sinews of fortune, but it is the sinews and steel of men's minds, wit, courage, audacity, resolution, temper, industry, and the like. In the third place,

TW

wheel; or at least so many scores bigger than the whole earth; he laughs thee to scorn, as affecting admiration with a learned untruth; yet the scholar, by the eye of reason, doth as plainly see and acknowledge this truth, as that his hand is bigger than his

pen.

What a thick mist, yea, what a palpable and more than Egyptian darkness, doth the natural man live in! what a world is there that he doth not see at all! and how little doth he see in this, which is his proper element! there is no bodily thing, but the brute creatures see as well as he, and some of them better. As for his

eye

of reason, how dim is it in those things which are best fitted to it! what one thing is there in nature,

I set down reputation, because of the peremptory tides and currents it hath ; which if they be not taken in their due time, are seldom recovered, it being extreme hard to play an after game of reputation. And lastly, I place honour, which is more easily won by any of the other three, much more by all, than any of them can be purchased by honour.

He, in whom talents, genius, and principle are united, will have a firm mind, in whatever embarrassment he may be placed; will look steadily at the most undefined shapes of difficulty and danger, of possible mistake or mischance : nor will they appear to him more formidable than they really are. For his attention is not distracted-he has but one business, and that is with the object before him. Neither in general conduct nor in particular emergencies are his plans subservient to considerations of rewards, estate, or title ; these are not to have precedence in his thoughts, to govern his actions, but to follow in the train of his duty. Such men in ancient times, were Phocion, Epaminondas, and Philopæmon; and such a man was Sir Philip Sidney, of whom it has been said, that he first taught this country the majesty of honest dealing.-WILLIAM WORDSWORTH.

« PreviousContinue »