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with a coronet, 'tis like to fall' a victim to my enemies, by the hands of an executioner.
But, say you, such, at least, whom nature hath sent into the world with crowns on their heads, and scepters in their hands; such as from their birth are placed in that high sphere, that they have nothing more to wish for; such are exempt from all the forementioned evils, and therefore may call themselves happy: it may be, indeed, they may be less sensible of them, having been born, bred, and brought up amongst them: as one, born near the downfalls of Nilus, becomes deaf to the sound of those waters; and he, that is born and brought up in prison, laments not the loss of liberty; nor does he wish for day that is brought up amongst the Cimmerians in perpetual night. Yet even persons of this high quality are far from being free ;' for the lightning often blasts a flower of their crowns, or breaks the scepter in their hands; sometimes their crowns are made of thorns, and the scepter that they bear is but a reed: and such crowns and scepters are so far from curing the chagrine of the mind, and from keeping off those cares and griefs that hover still about them, that, on the contrary, it is the crown that brings them, and the scepter that attracts them. "O crown,' said the Persian monarch, he, that knew how heavy thou sittest on the head, would not vouchsafe to take thee up, though he should meet thee in his way. This prince gave law to the whole world, and each man's fortune was what he pleased to make it; and therefore, to appearance, could give to every man content; and yet you see himself confessing, that in the whole world, which he held in his hand, there was nothing but grief and unhappiness.
And what better account can the rest give us, if they would speak impartially what they found? We will not ask them who have coneluded a miserable life with a dishonourable death; who have beheld their kingdoms buried before them, and have in great misery long over-lived their greatness. Neither will we enquire of Dionysius the tyrant of Sicily, who was more content with a handful of twigs to whip the little children of Corinth in a school, than with the scepter wherewith he had beaten all Sicily. Nor will we ask of Sylla, who, having robbed the common-wealth of Rome, which had herself before robbed the whole world, never found means of rest in himself, but by robbing himself of his own estate, with incredible hazard of his power and authority. Nor (to come nearer home, will we enquire of Charles, the royal martyr, the lustre of whose crown did only serve to tempt his enemies, not only to take it from his head, but to take his head off too; and whose scepter was too weak to overcome the force' of armed rebels. Nor will we ask of his two exiled sons, the first of which endured twelve years of banishment e're he enjoyed his crown; and the last, in less than a Quinque Neronem, was forced to leave his crown and kingdoms, and fly for refuge to a neighbouring monarch, whose generous goodness has ever since supported him; whose sad misfortunes I the more regret, because they both include my own, and are their source and foun.
tain. It is of none of these unhappy princes that we will make en. quiry after happiness : but let us ask the opinion of the most opulent and flourishing of princes, even of the great king Solomon, a man endowed with singular wisdom from above, beyond the rest of men; and whose immense riches was so great, that gold and silver were as plentiful as the stones in the street; and the sacred history tells us, there was such plenty of gold, that silver was nothing accounted of, in the days of Solomon; and, as he wanted not treasyre, so peither did he want for largeness of heart to make use of it; and, after he had tried all the felicities that the world could afford him, this is the account that he gives of it,' All is vanity and vexation of spirit.'
If we ask of the emperor Augustus, who peaceably possessed the whole world, be will bewail his life past, and, anong infạite toils,
wish for the rest of the meanest of his subjects ;' esteeming that happy day, that would ease him of his insupportable greatness, and suder him to live quietly among the least.
If of Tiberius, his successor, he will tell us, that he holds the empire, as a wolf by the ears, and that, if he could do it without danger of being bitten, he would gladly let it go;' complaining on fortune for lifting him so high; and then taking away the ladder, that he could not get down.
If of Dioclesian, a prince of great wisdom and virtue in the opinion of the world; he will prefer his voluntary, banishment at Solona, before all the Roman empire.
And lastly, if of the emperor Charles the Fifth, esteemed the most happy that hath lived these many ages, he will curse his conquests, victories, and triumphs; and not be ashamed to own, that he hath felt more good in one day of his monkish * solitude, than in all his triumphant life.
Now can we imagine those happy in this imaginary greatness, who think themselves unhappy in it. And do profess that happi, ness consists in being lesser and not greater. In a word, whatever bappiness ambition promiseth, it is nothing else, but suffering of much evil, to get more. Men think, by daily climbing higher, te pluck themselves out of this evil; and yet the height, whereunto they so plainly aspire, is the height of misery itself.
I speak not here of the wretchedness of them, who all their lives have been holding out their caps to fortune for the alms of court favour, and can get nothing nor of them who, jostling one another for it, cast it into the hands of a third; nor of those who having it, and seeking to hold it faster, drop it through their fingers, which often happens. Such, by all men, are esteemed unhappy; and are so indeed, because, they judge themselves so
Well, you will now say, the covetous, in all his goods, hath ng good; the ambitious, at the best he can be, is but ill : but may there not be some, who, supplying the place of justice, or being Charles the Fifth, according to some authors, being morger
vereinfrieronymiento resigned his crown to his son, and became a monk in the cloister of the at St. Jastus, near Placenta, on the frontien of Cantike and Portugal, anno 1661.
near about a prince, may without following such unbridled passions, enjoy their goods with innocence and pleasure, joining hom pour with rest, and contentment of mind ?
Perhaps, in former ages (when there remained among men some sparks of sincerity) it might in some sort be so; but, being of that composition they now are, it is, in a manner, impossible. For, if you deal in affairs of state, you shall either do well or ill; if ill, you bave God for your enemy, and your own conscience for a perpetual tormenting executioner: if well, you have men for your enemies, and of men the greatest; whose envy and malice will espy you out, and whose cruelty and tyranny will evermore threaten you. Please the people, you please a beast; and pleasing such ought to be displeasing to yourself. Please yourself, you displease God: please him, you incur a thousand dangers in the world, with the purchase of a thousand displeasures. The sum of all therefore is this, there are none contented with their present stations; for, if you could hear the talk of the wisest and least discontented of men, whether they speak advisedly, or their words pass them by force of truth, one would gladly change garments with his tenant. Another preacheth, how goodly an estate it is to have nothing. A tbird, complaining that his brains are broken with the noise of a court, or palace, hath no other thought, but as soon as he can to retire bimself thence. So that you shall not see any but is displeased with his own calling, and envieth that of another: and yet ready to recoil, if a man should take him at his word. None but is
of the inconveniences whereunto his age is subject, and yet wishes not to be older, to free himself of them, though otherwise he keeps off old age, as much as in him lieth.
What must we then do in so great a contrariety and confusion of minds? Must we, to find true contentment, fly the society of men, hide us in forests among wild beasts, and sequester ourselves from all conversation, to preserve ourselves from the evil of the world? Could we, in so doing, live at rest, it were something; but alas! Men cannot take herein what part they would; and even they, which do, find not there all the rest they sought for.
But where can be fly, that carries his enemy in his bosom? And since, as the wise man says, the world in our hearts, hardly can we find a place in this world, where the world will not find us. And as some make profession to fly the world, who thereby seek nothing but the praise of the world, and as some hide themselves from men, to no other end but that men should seek them; so the world often harbours in disguised attire, among them that fly the world. It is not, therefore, solitude and retirement can give us contentment, but, only the subduing of our unruly lusts and passions,
Now, as touching that contentment, that may be found in solitude, by wise men, in the exercise of reading divers books, of both divine and prophane authors, in order to the acquiring of knowledge and learning, it is indeed a very commendable thing; but, if we will take Solomon's judgment in the case, it is all but vanity
and vexation of spirit:' for some are ever learning to correct their speech, and never think of correcting their life. Others, by logical discourses of the art of reason, dispute many times'so long, till they lose thereby their natural reason. One learns by arithmetick to divide into the smallest fractions, and yet hath not skill to part one shilling with his brother. Another, by geometry, can measure fields, and towns, and countries, but cannot measure himself. The musician can accord his voices, and sounds, and times together, having nothing in his heart, but discords ; nor one passion in his soul, but what is out of tune. The astrologer looks up to the stars, and falls in the next ditch: foreknows the future, and is careless for the present; hath often his eye on the heavens, though his heart be buried on the earth. The philosopher discourseth of the nature of all other things, and yet knows not himself. The historian can tell of the wars of Thebes and of Troy, but is ignorant of what is done in his own house. The lawyer will make laws for all the world, and yet observe none himself. The physician cures others, but languishes himself under his own malady: he can find the least alteration in his putse, but takes no notice of the burning fever of his mind. Lastly, the divine will spend the greatest part of his time in disputing of faith, and yet cares not to hear of charity: will talk of God, but has no regard to succour men. These knowledges bring on the mind an endless labour, but no contentment; for, the more he knows, the more he desires to know.
They pacify not the debates a man feels in himself, they cure not the diseases of his mind. They make him learned, but they make him not good; cunning, but not wise. The more a man knows, the more he knows, that he knows not; the fuller the mind is, the emptier it finds itself: forasmuch as whatsoever a man can know of any science, in this world, is but the least part of what he is ignorant of: all his knowledge consisting in knowing his ignorance, all his perfection in seeing his imperfections, which who best knows and notes is, in truth, among men, the most wise and perfect. In short, we must conclude with Solomon, that the beginning and end of wisdom is the fear of God; yet this wisdom, nevertheless, is taken by the world for meer folly, and persecuted by the world as a deadly enemy; and therefore, as he, that fears God, ought to fear no evil, for that all his evils are converted to his good : so neither ought he to hope for good in the world, having there the devil his professed enemy, whom the scripture termeth the prince of this world.
But, with what exercise soever we pass the time, old age unawares comes upon us, which never fails to find us out. Every man makes account in that age to repose himself without further care, and to keep himself at ease in health. But, on the contrary, in this age, there is nothing but an after-taste of all the foregoing evils; and most commonly a plentiful harvest of all such vices as, in the whole course of their life, hath held and possessed them. There you have the imbecillity and weakness of infancy, and (wbich is worse) many times accompanied with authority. There you are paid for the excess and riot of your youth, with gouts, palsies, and such like diseases, which take from you limb after limb, with pain and torment. There you are recompensed for the anxieties of mind, the watchings and cares of manhood, with loss of sight, loss of hearing, and all the senses one after another, except only the sense of pain. Not one part in us, but death takes hold of, to be assured of us, as of bad pay-masters, which seldom keep days of payment: there is nothing in us, which is not visibly declining, except our vices; and they not only live, but, in despite of nature, grow young again. The covetous man hath one foot in his grave, and is yet burying his money, as if he had hopes to find it again another day. The ambitious in his will provides for a pompous funeral, making his vice to triumph, even after his death. The riotous, no longer able to dance on his feet, danceth with his shoulders, all vices having left him, and he not able to leave them. The child wishes for youth, and this man laments it. The young man lives in hope of the future, and this feels the evil present, laments the false pleasures past, and sees for the time to come nothing to hope for; and the old man is more foolish than the child, in bewailing the time he cannot recal, and remembers not the evil that he suffered in it; and more wretched than the young man, in that, after a vicious life, and not being able any longer to live, he must miserably die, seeing nothing round about him but matter of despair.
As for him that, from his youth, hath undertaken to combate against the flesh and the world, who hath used to mortify himself, and leave the world, whilst he continues in it; who, besides those ordinary evils, finds himself vexed with this great and incurable disease of old age; and yet feels his flesh, how weak soever, often stronger than his spirit; what satisfaction can he take, but only in this, that he sees his death is at hand; that his warfare is accomplished, and that he is ready to depart by death out of this loathsome prison, wherein he has been all along racked and tormented?
I forbear to mention the almost infinite evils wherewith men in all ages are afflicted, as loss of friends and parents, banishments, exiles, disgraces, and other accidents, common and ordinary in the world; one complaining of losing his children, another of have ing them; one lamenting for his wife's death, another for her life; one finding fault that he is too high in court, and others more often that they are not high enough. The world is so full of evils, that it would require a world of time to write them in. And, if the most happy man in the world should set his felicities against each other, he would see cause enough to judge himself unhappy :' and yet perhaps another man might judge him happy, who yet, if he had been but three days in his place, would give it over to bim that should come next. And he that shall consider, in all the goods that ever he hath had, the evils he hath suffered to get them, and having got them, to retain and keep them (I speak of pleasures that may be kept, and not of those that wither in a moment)