Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

saith: “ Haec pro amicitiâ nostra non occultavi;" and the whole Senate dedicated an altar to Friendship, as to a goddess, in respect of the great dearness of friendship between them two. The like or more was between Septimius Severus and Plautianus. For he forced his eldest son to marry the daughter of Plautianus, and would often maintain Plautianus in doing affronts to his son ; and did write also in a letter to the Senate by these words: “ 12 I love the man so well, as I wish he may over-live me.” Now if these princes had been as a Trajan or a Marcus Aurelius, a man might have thought that this had proceeded of an abundant goodness of nature ; but being men so wise, of such strength and severity of mind, and so extreme lovers of themselves as all these were, it proveth most plainly that they found their own felicity (though as great as ever happened to mortal men) but as an half peace, except they might have a friend to make it entire : and yet, which is more, they were princes that had wives, sons, nephews; and yet all these could not supply the comfort of friendship.

13 It is not to be forgotten what Commineus observeth of his first master, Duke Charles the Hardy, namely, that he would communicate his secrets with none, and least of all those secrets which troubled him most. Whereupon he goeth on and saith, that towards his latter time,“ that closeness did impair and a little 14 perish his understanding.” Surely Commineus might have made the same judgment also, if it had pleased him, of his second master, Louis the Eleventh, whose closeness was indeed his tormentor. The parable of Pythagoras is dark but true: “Cor ne edito”—“Eat not the heart.” Certainly, if a man would give it a hard phrase, those that want friends to open themselves unto, are cannibals of their own hearts. But one thing is most admirable (wherewith I will conclude this first fruit of friendship), which is, that this communicating of a man's self to his friend works two contrary effects; for it redoubleth joys and cutteth griefs in halfs : for there is no man that imparteth his joys to his friend, but he joyeth the more; and no man that imparteth his griefs to his friend, but he grieveth the less. So that it is, in truth, of operation upon a man's mind of like virtue as 15 the alchymists used to attribute

to their stone for man's body; that it worketh all contrary effects, but still to the good and benefit of nature. But yet, 16 without praying in aid of alchymists, there is a manifest image of this in the ordinary course of nature ; for in bodies union strengtheneth and cherisheth any natural action, and, on the other side, weakeneth and dulleth any violent impression ; and even so is it of minds.

The second fruit of friendship is healthful and sovereign for the understanding, as the first is for the affections ; for friendship maketh indeed a fair day in the affections from storm and tempests, but it maketh daylight in the understanding out of darkness and confusion of thoughts. Neither is this to be understood only of faithful counsel which a man receiveth from his friend; but before you come to that, certain it is that whosoever hath his mind fraught with many thoughts, his wits and understanding do clarify and break up in the communicating and discoursing with another : he tosseth his thoughts more easily; he marshalleth them more orderly; he seeth how they look when they are turned into words ; finally, he waxeth wiser than himself, and that more by an hour's discourse than by a day's meditation. 17 It was well said by Themistocles to the king of Persia:“That speech was like cloth of 18 Arras opened and put abroad, whereby the imagery doth appear in figure; whereas in thoughts they lie but as in packs." Neither is this second fruit of friendship, in opening the understanding, 19 restrained only to such friends as are able to give a man counsel : (they indeed are best), but even without that, a man learneth of himself, and bringeth his own thoughts to light, 20 and whetteth his wits as against a stone, which itself cuts not. 21 In a word, a man were better relate himself to a statue or picture, than to suffer his thought to pass in smother.

Add now, to make this second fruit of friendship complete, that other point, which lieth more open and falleth within vulgar observation; which is, faithful counsel from a friend. Heraclitus saith well, in one of his enigmas: “ 22 Dry light is ever the best.” And certain it is, that the light that a man receiveth by counsel from another is drier and purer than that which cometh from his own understanding and judgment, which is ever infused and drenched in his affections and customs : so as there is as much difference between the counsel that a friend giveth and that a man giveth himself, as there is between the counsel of a friend and of a flatterer ; for there is no such flatterer as is a man's self, and there is no such remedy against flattery of a man's self as the liberty of a friend. Counsel is of two sorts; the one concerning manners, the other concerning business. For the first, the best preservative to keep the mind in health, is the faithful admonition of a friend. The calling of a man's self to a strict account is a medicine sometimes too piercing and corrosive ; reading good books of morality is a little flat and dead ; observing our faults in others is sometimes unproper for our case; but the best receipt (best, I say, to work and best to take) is the admonition of a friend. It is a strange thing to behold what gross errors and extreme absurdities many (especially of the greater sort) do commit, for want of a friend to tell them of them, to the great damage both of their fame and fortune ; for, as St. James saitn, they are as men“ 23 that look sometimes into a glass, and presently forget their own shape and favour.” As for business, a man may think, if he will, that two eyes see no more than one ; or that a gamester seeth always more than a lookeron; or that a man in anger is as wise as he that hath said over the four and twenty letters“; or that a musket may be shot off as well upon the arm 24 as upon a rest; and such other 26 fond and high imaginations, to think himself all in all; but when all is done, the help of good counsel is that which setteth business straight. And if any man think that he will take counsel, but it shall be by pieces-asking counsel in one business of one man, and in another business of another man-it is well (that is to say, better, perhaps, than if he asked none at all) ; but he runneth two dangers : one, that he shall not be faithfully counselled; for it is a rare thing, except it be from a perfect and entire friend, to have counsel given but such as shall be bowed and crooked to some ends which he hath that giveth it: the other, that he shall have counsel given hurtful and unsafe (though with good meaning), and mixed partly of mischief and partly of remedy ; even as if you would call å physician that is thought good for the cure of the disease you complain of, but is unacquainted with

your body, and therefore may put you in way for a present cure, but overthroweth your health in some other kind, and so cure the disease and kill the patient. But a friend that is wholly acquainted with a man's estate will beware, by furthering any present business, how he dasheth upon other inconvenience. And therefore rest not upon scattered counsels; they will rather distract and mislead than settle and direct.

After these two noble fruits of friendship (peace in the affections and support of the judgment), followeth the last fruit, which is like the pomegranate, full of many kernels; I mean aid, and bearing a part in all actions and occasions. Here the best way to represent to life the manifold use of friendship, is to cast and see how many thinys there are which a man cannot do himself: and then it will appear that it was a sparing speech of the ancients to say "that a friend is another himself;" for that a friend is far more than himself. Men have their time, and die many times in desire of some things which they principally take to heart—26 the bestowing of a child, the finishing of a work, or the like. If a man have a true friend, he may rest almost secure that the care of those things will continue after him. So that a man hath, as it were, two lives in his desires. A man hath a body, and that body is confined to a place : but where friendship is, all offices of life are, as it were, granted to him and his deputy; for he may exercise them by his friend. How many things are there which a man cannot, with any face or comeliness, say or do himself! A man can scarce allege his own merits with modesty, much less extol them; a man cannot sometimes brook to supplicate or beg, and a number of the like: but all these things are graceful in a friend's mouth, which are blushing in a man's own. So, again, a man's person hath many proper relations, which he cannot put off. A man cannot speak to his son but as a father ; to his wife, but as a husband ; to his enemy, but upon terms ; whereas a friend may speak as the case requires, and not as it sorteth with the person. But to enumerate these things were endless. I have given the rule : where a man cannot fitly play his own part, if he have not a friend he may quit the stage.

THE ADVANCEMENT OF LEARNING.
HOW THE FOLLIES OF LEARNED MEN HAVE DISHONOURED

LEARNING. Now I proceed to those errors and vanities which have intervened amongst the studies themselves of the learned, which is that which is principal and proper to the present argument; wherein my purpose is, not to make a justification of the errors, but, by a 1 censure and separation of the errors, to make a justification of that which is good and sound, and to deliver that from the aspersion of the other. For we see that it is the manner of men to scandalize and deprave that which aretaineth the state and virtue, by taking advantage upon that which is corrupt and degenerate: as the heathens in the primitive Church used to 3 blemish and taint the Christians with the faults and corruptions of heretics. But nevertheless I have no meaning at this time to make any exact animadversion of the errors and impediments in matters of learning, which are more secret and remote from vulgar opinion, but only to 4speak unto such as do fall under or near unto a popular observation.

There be, therefore, chiefly three vanities in studies, whereby learning hath been most traduced. For those things we do esteem vain which are either false or frivolous, those which either have no truth or no use: and those persons we esteem vain which are either credulous or 5curious ; and curiosity is either in matter or words. So that in reason, as well as in experience, there fall out to be these three distempers, as I may term them, of learning: the first, fantastical learning; the second, contentious learning; and the last, delicate learning; vain imaginations, vain altercations, and vain affectations; and with the last I will begin. Martin Luther, conducted no doubt by a higher providence, but in discourse of reason, finding what a

province he had undertaken against the Bishop of Rome and the degenerate traditions of the Church, and finding his own solitude, being no ways aided by the opinions of his own time, was enforced to awake all antiquity, and to call former times to his succour to make a party against the present time. So that the ancient authors, both in divinity and in 8 humanity, which had long time slept in

« AnteriorContinuar »