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determine the will, unless they are enforced by the same means; and we are obliged to apply to ourselves what we see happen to other
Instructions by precept have the further disadvantage of coming on the authority of others, and frequently require a long deduction of reasoning. 4“ Homines amplius oculis, quam auribus, credunt: longum iter est per praecepta, breve et efficax per exempla.” The reason of this judgment, which I quote from one of Seneca's epistles in confirmation of my own opinion, rests, I think, on this; that when examples are pointed out to us, there is a kind of appeal, with which we are flattered, made to our senses as well as our understandings. The instruction comes then upon our authority: we frame the precept after our own experience, and yield to fact when we resist speculation. But this is not the only advantage of instruction by example; for example appeals not to our understanding alone, but to our passions likewise. Example assuages these or animates them; sets passion on the side of judgment, and makes the whole man of a piece; which is more than the strongest reasoning and the clearest demonstration can do: and thus forming habits by repetition, example secures the observance of those precepts which example insinuated. Is it not Pliny, my lord, who says, that the gentlest, he should have added the most effectual way of commanding, is by example: "Mitius jubetur exemplo.” The harshest orders are softened by example, and tyranny itself becomes persuasive. What pity it is that so few princes have learned this way of commanding ! But again, the force of examples is not confined to those alone that pass immediately under our sight: the examples that memory suggests have the same effect in their degree, and an habit of recalling them will soon produce the habit of imitating them. In the same epistle from whence I cited a passage just now, Seneca says that Cleanthes had never become so perfect a copy of Zeno, if he had not passed his life with him; that Plato, Aristotle, and the other philosophers of that school, profited more by the example than by the discourse of Socrates. [But here, by the way, Seneca mistook; for Socrates died two years according to some, and four years according to others, before the birth of
Aristotle: and his mistake might come from the inaccuracy of those who collected for him; as Erasmus observes, after Quintilian, in his judgment on Seneca.] But be this, which was scarce worth a parenthesis, as it will; he adds that Metrodorus, Hermachus, and Polyaenus, men of great note, were formed by living under the same roof with Epicurus, not by frequenting his school. These are instances of the force of immediate example. But your lordship knows that the citizens of Rome placed the images of their ancestors in the vestibules of their houses; so that, whenever they went in or out, these venerable 6 bustoes met their eyes, and recalled the glorious actions of the dead, to fire the living, to excite them to imitate and even to emulate their great forefathers. The success answered the design. The virtue of one generation was transfused, by the magic of example, into several ; and a spirit of heroism was maintained through many ages of that commonwealth. Now these are so many instances of the force of remote example; and from all these instances we may conclude that examples of both kinds are necessary.
The school of example, my lord, is the world; and the masters of this school are History and Experience. I am far from contending that the former is preferable to the latter. I think upon the whole otherwise: but this I say, that the former is absolutely necessary to prepare us for the latter, and to accompany us whilst we are under the discipline of the latter; that is, through the whole course of our lives. No doubt some few men may be quoted, to whom Nature gave what art and industry can give to no man. But such examples will prove nothing against me, because I admit that the study of history, without experience, is insufficient; but assert, that experience itself is so without genius. Genius is preferable to the other two; but I would wish to find the three together: for how great soever a genius may be, and how much soever he may acquire new light and heat as he proceeds in his rapid course, certain it is that he will never shine with the full lustre, nor shed the full influence he is capable of, unless to his own experience he adds the experience of other men and other ages. Genius, without the improvement, at least of experience, is—what comets once were thought to be a blazmeteor, irregular in his course, and dangerous in his approach ; of no use to any system, and able to destroy any. Mere sons of earth, if they have experience without any knowledge of the history of the world, are but half scholars in the science of mankind. And if they are conversant in history without experience, they are worse than ignorant; they are pedants, always incapable, sometimes meddling and presuming. The man who has all three, is an honour to his country, and a public blessing: and such, I trust, your lordship will be in this century, as your great-grandfather was in the last.
LETTER VII.-A SKETCH OF THE STATE AND HISTORY
When Lewis XIV. took the administration of affairs into his own hands, about the year 1660, he was in the prime of his age, and had, what princes seldom have, the advantages of youth and those of experience together. Their education is generally bad; for which reason royal birth, that gives a right to the throne among other people, gave an absolute exclusion from it among the Mamalukes. His was, in all respects except one, as bad as that of other princes. He jested sometimes on his own ignorance; and there were other defects in his character, owing to his education, which he did not see. But Mazarin had initiated him betimes in the mysteries of his policy. He had seen a great part of those foundations laid on which he was to raise the fabric of his future grandeur : and as Mazarin finished the work that Richelieu began, he had the lessons of one, and the examples of both, to instruct him. He had acquired habits of secrecy and method in business ; of reserve, discretion, decency, and dignity in behaviour. If he was not the greatest king, he was the best actor of majesty at least, that ever filled a throne. He by no means wanted that courage which is commonly called bravery, though the want of it was imputed to him in the midst of his greatest triumphs: nor that other courage, less ostentatious and more rarely found, calm, steady, persevering resolution;
which seems to arise less from the temper of the body, and is therefore called courage of the mind. He had them both most certainly, and I could produce unquestionable anecdotes in proof. He was, in one word, much superior to any prince with whom he had to do, when he began to govern. He was surrounded with great captains bred in former wars, and with great ministers bred in the same school as himself. They who had worked under Mazarin-worked on the same plan under him: and as they had the advantages of genius and experience over most of the ministers of other countries, so they had another advantage over those who were equal or superior to them; the advantage of serving a master whose absolute power was established; and the advantage of a situation wherein they might exert their whole capacity without contradiction,-over that, for instance, wherein your lordship’s great-grandfather was placed at the same time in England, and John de Wit in Holland. Among these ministers, Colbert must be mentioned particularly upon this occasion; because it was he who improved the wealth, and consequently the power of France extremely, by the order he put into the finances, and by the encouragement he gave to trade and manufactures. The soil, the climate, the situation of France, the ingenuity, the industry, the vivacity of her inhabitants are such ; she has so little want of the product of other countries, and other countries have so many real or imaginary wants to be supplied by her; that when she is not at war with all her neighbours, when her domestic quiet is preserved and any tolerable administration of government prevails, she must grow rich at the expense of those who trade, and even of those who do not open a trade with her. Her a bawbles, her modes, the follies and extravagancies of her luxury, cost England, about the time we are speaking of, little less than eight hundred thousand pounds sterling a year, and other nations in their proportions. Colbert made the most of all these advantageous circumstances, and whilst he filled the national spunge, he taught his successors how to squeeze it; a secret that he repented having discovered, they say, when he saw the immense sums that were necessary to supply the growing magnificence of his master.
This was the character of Lewis XIV., and this was the state of his kingdom at the beginning of the present period. If his power was great, his pretensions were still greater. He had renounced, and the Infanta with his consent had renounced, all right to the succession of Spain, in the strongest terms that the precaution of the councils of Madrid could contrive. No matter; he consented to these renunciations, but your lordship will find by the letters of Mazarin, and by other memorials, that he acted on the contrary principle from the first, which he avowed soon afterwards. Such a power, and such pretensions, should have given, one would think, an immediate alarm to the rest of Europe. Philip IV. was broken and decayed, like the monarchy he governed.
One of his sons died, as I remember, during the negotiations that preceded the year 1660; and the survivor, who was Charles II., rather languished than lived, from the cradle to the grave. So dangerous a contingency, therefore, as the union of the two monarchies of France and Spain, being in view forty years together, one would imagine that the principal powers of Europe had the means of preventing it constantly in view during the same time. But it was otherwise. France acted very systematically from the year 1660 to the death of King Charles II. of Spain. She never lost sight of her great object, the succession to the whole Spanish monarchy; and she accepted the will of the King of Spain in favour of the Duke of Anjou. As she never lost sight of her great object during this time, so she lost no opportunity of increasing her power while she waited for that of succeeding in her pretensions. The two branches of Austria were in no condition of making a considerable opposition to her designs and attempts. Holland, who of all other powers was the most concerned to oppose them, was at that time under two influences that hindered her from pursuing her true interest. Her true interest was to have used her utmost endeavours to unite closely and intimately with England on the restoration of King Charles. She did the very contrary. John de Wit, at the head of the Louvestein faction governed. The interest of his party was to keep the house of Orange down: he courted therefore the friendship of France, and