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Not. 6.—Some that turn over all books, and are equally searching in all papers, that write out of what they presently find or meet, without choice; by which means it happens, that what they have discredited and impugned in one week, they have before or after extolled the same in another. Such are all the essayists, even their master Montaigne. These, in all they write, confess still what books they have read last; and therein their own folly, so much, that they bring it to the stake raw and undigested: not that the place did need it neither; but that they thought themselves furnished, and would vent it.
Not. 7.—Some again (who after they have got authority, or, which is less, opinion, by their writings, to have read much) dare presently to feign whole books and authors, and lye safely. For what never was, will not easily be found, not by the most curious.
Not. 8.–And some, by a cunning protestation against all reading, and false venditation of their own naturals, think to divert the sagacity of their readers from themselves, and cool the scent of their own foxlike thefts; when yet they are so rank, as a man may find whole pages together usurped from one author : their necessities compelling them to read for present use, which could not be in many books; and so come forth more ridiculously, and palpably guilty than those, who because they cannot trace, they yet would slander their industry.
Not. 9.—But the wretcheder are the obstinate contemners of all helps and arts; such as presuming on their own naturals (which perhaps are excellent) dare deride all diligence, and seem to mock at the terms, when they understand not the things ; thinking that way to get off wittily, with their ignorance.
These are imitated often by such as are their peers in negligence, though they cannot be in nature : and they utter all they can think with a kind of violence and indisposition ; unexamined, without relation either to person, place, or any fitness else ; and the more wilful and stubborn they are in it, the more learned they are esteemed of the multitude, through their excellent vice of judgment : who think those things the stronger, that have no art; as if to break, were better than to open ; or to rent asunder, gentler than to loose.
men who commonly seek to do more than enough, an
Not. 10.—It cannot but come to pass, that these
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may sometimes happen on something that is good and great; but very seldom : and when it comes, it doth not recompense the rest of their ill. For their jests, and their sentences (which they only and ambitiously seek for) stick out, and are more eminent; because all is sordid, and vile about them ; as lights are more discerned in a thick darkness, than a faint shadow. Now because they speak all they can (however unfitly) they are thought to have the greater copy: where the learned use ever election and a mean; they look back to what they intended at first, and make all an even and proportioned
body. The true artificer will not run away from nature, as the were afraid of her; or depart from life, and the likeness of truth ; but speak to the capacity of his hearers. And though his language differ from the vulgar somewhat, it shall not fly from all humanity, with the Tamer-lanes, and Tamer-chams of the late age, which had nothing in them but the scenical strutting, and furious vociferation, to warrant them to the ignorant gapers. He knows it is his only art, so to carry it, as none but artificers perceive it. In the mean time, perhaps, he is called barren, dull,
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lean, a poor writer, or by what contumelious word can come in their cheeks, by these men, who without labour, judgment, knowledge, or almost sense, are received or preferred before him. He gratulates them, and their fortune. Another age, or juster men, will acknowledge the virtues of his studies, his wisdom in dividing, his subtlety in arguing, with what strength he doth inspire his readers, with what sweetness he strokes them; in inveighing, what sharpness; in jest, what urbanity he uses : how he doth reign in men's affections : how invade, and break in upon them; and makes their minds like the thing he writes. Then in his elocution to behold what word is proper, which hath ornaments, which height, what is beautifully translated, where figures are fit, which gentle, which strong, to shew the composition manly: and how he hath avoided faint, obscure, obscene, sordid, humble, improper, or effeminate phrase ; which is not only praised of the most, but commended, (which is worse) especially for that it is naught.
Ignorantia anima.--I know no disease of the soul, but ignorance ; not of the arts and sciences, but of itself: yet relating to those it is a pernicious evil, the darkener of man's life, the disturber of his reason, and common confounder of truth; with which a man goes groping in the dark, no otherwise than if he were blind. Great understandings are most racked and troubled with it : nay, sometimes they will rather choose to die, than not to know the things they study for.
Think then what an evil it is, and what good the contrary.
LXXIV. Scientia.-Knowledge is the action of the soul, and is perfect without the senses, as having the seeds
of all science and virtue in itself; but not without the service of the senses ; by these organs the soul works : she is a perpetual agent, prompt and subtle ; but often flexible, and erring, intangling herself like a silk-worm : but her reason is a weapon with two edges, and cuts through. In her indagations ofttimes new scents put her by, and she takes in errors into her, by the same conduits she doth truths.
Otium.-Studiorum.--Ease and relaxation are profitable to all studies. The mind is like a bow, the stronger by being unbent.
But the temper in spirits is all, when to command a man's wit, when to favour it. I have known a man vehement on both sides, that knew no mean, either to intermit his studies, or call upon them again. When he hath set himself to writing, he would join night to day, press upon himself without release, not minding it, till he fainted and when he left off, resolve himself into all sports and looseness again, that it was almost a despair to draw him to his book; but once got to it, he grew stronger and more earnest by the ease. His whole powers were renewed; he would work out of himself what he desired ; but with such excess, as his study could not be ruled; he knew not how to dispose his own abilities, or husband them, he was of that immoderate power against himself
. Nor was he only a strong but an absolute speaker, and writer ; but his subtlety did not shew itself ; his judgment thought that a vice : for the ambush hurts more that is hid. He never forced his language, nor went out of the highway of speaking, but for some great necessity, or apparent profit : for he denied figures to be invented for ornament, but for aid; and still thought it an extreme madness to bind or wrest that which ought to be right.
Still eminentia.-Virgil.—Tully.—Sallust.—It is no wonder men's eminence appears but in their own way. Virgil's felicity left him in prose, as Tully's forsook him in verse. Sallust's orations are read in the honour of story; yet the most eloquent Plato's speech, which he made for Socrates, is neither worthy of the patron, nor the person defended. Nay, in the same kind of oratory, and where the matter is one, you shall have him that reasons strongly, open negligently; another that prepares well, not fit so well: And this happens not only to brains, but to bodies. One can wrestle well, another run well, a third leap, or throw the bar, a fourth lift, or stop a cart going : each hath his way of strength. So in other creatures, some dogs are for the deer, some for the wild boar, some are fox-hounds, some otterhounds. Nor are all horses for the coach or saddle, some are for the cart and paniers.
De claris Oratoribus.-I have known many excellent men, that would speak suddenly, to the admiration of their hearers; who upon study and premeditation have been forsaken by their own wits, and no way answered their fame: their eloquence was greater than their reading ; and the things they uttered, better than those they knew : their fortune deserved better of them than their care. For men of present spirits, and of greater wits than study, do please more in the things they invent, than in those they bring. And I have heard some of them compelled to speak, out of necessity, that have so infinitely exceeded themselves, as it was better both for them and their auditory, that they were so surprised, not prepared. Nor was it safe then to cross them, for their adversary, their anger made them