Page images
[ocr errors]

Help to English History' (1641), and “ History of the Reformation' (1601). As an bisiorinn, he display's too much of the spirit of a partisan and bigot, and stands among the defenders of civil and ecclesiastical tyranny. His works though now almost forgotten, were much read in the seventeenth century, and portions of them may still be perused with pleasure. After the Restoration, his health suffered so much from disappointment at the neglect of his claims for preferment in the church, that he died soon after, in 1662. In a narrative whicla he published of a six weeks' lour to France in 1625, he gives the fullowing humorous description of

The French. The present French is nothing but an old Gaul monlded into a new name: as rash he is, as head-trong, and us hure-brained. A nation whom you shall win with a feather, and Jose with a straw ; upon the first sight of him, you shall have him as familiar as your sleep, or the necessity of breathing. In one hour's conference you may endear him to you, in the second unbutton him, the third pumps bim dry of all his secrets, and he gives them you as faithfully us if you were his gbostly father, and bound to conceal them sub sigrillo confessionis ( under the seal of contession 'í

--when you have learned this, you may lay him ucide, for he is no longer serviceable. If you have any humour in holding him in a further acquaintance-a favour which he confesseth, and I believe him, he is uworthy of himself will make the first separation : he nath Faid over his lesson now unto you, and now must find out somebody else to whom to repeat it. Fare him well; be is a garment whom I would be loath to wear above two days tog, ther, for in that time he will be threachare, Famviare pst hominis omnia sibi remittere [. It is usual for men to overlook their own faults'], saith. Velleius of all; it holdeth mout properly in this people. He is Very kind-hearted to himsell, and thinketh bimself as free from wants as he is full; 80 mnch he liath in him the nature of a Chinese, that he thinketh all men blind but himself. In this private self-conceitedness he hateth the Spaniard, loveth not the English, and contemneth the German ; himself is the only courtier aud complete gentleman, but it is his own glass which he seeth in. Out of this conceit of his own excellency, and partly out of a shallowness of brain, he is very liable to exceptions; the least distaste thit can be draweth his swor, and a minute's pause sheatheth it to your hand: afterwards, if you beat him into better manners. le phall take it kindly, and cry arriteur. In this one thing they are wonderfully like the devil; merknees or submission mukes them insolent; à little resistance putteth them to their heels, or mikes them your spaniels. In a word--for I have held himn too long he is a walking vanity in a new fashion.

I will give you now a taste of his table, which yon shall find in a measure fun. nished-I speak vot of the peasant-but not with so full a mamer as with us. There wet they cut out into such chops, that tunt which got th there for a laudable disl), would be thought her a university commons, 1koW served from the hatch. A loin ot mutton serves amongst them for three coatings, besides the hazard of making pottage with the rump. Fowl, also, they have in good plenty, especially such as the king found in Scotland ; to say trutti, that which they have is sufficient for nature and a friend, were it not for the mistries or th: kitchen wench. I have heard much fome of the French cooks, but th'ir skill lieth not in the neat hanuling of be f aud mutton. They have-as generally have all this nation--good faucies, and are special fellows for the making of puff-pastes, and the ordering of banquets. Their trude is not to feed the belly, but the palate. It is now time you were set down, where the first thing yorumu-i do is to pay your grace: private graces are us ordinary ther: us private masses, and from thenice I think they learned ihem. That done, fall to whero you like best; they observe no method in their eating, and if you look for a carver, you may rise fasting. When you are risen, if you can disest the sluttishness of the cookery, which is most aboininable at first sight, I dare trust you in a garrison. Follow him to church, and there he will shes himself most irreligious and irreverent; 1 speak uot of all, but the generul. At it inass, in Cordeliers' church in Paris, I saw

two French papists, even when the most sacred mystery of their faith was celebrating, break ont into such a lilasphemous and atheistical laughter, that even an Ethnic would have hat d it; it was well they were Catholics, otherwise some French hothead or other would have sent them laughing to Pluto.

The French language is, indeed, very sweet and deiectable: it is cleared of all barshness, by the cutting and leaving out the consonants, which makth it fall off the tonguc very volubly;

yet, in my opinion, it is rather elegant than copious; und, therefore, is mich troubled for wait of words to find ont paraphrases. It exples eth very much of salt in the action; the head, body, and shoulders concur all in the prononuciug of it; and he' that hopeth to speak it with a good grace, must have something in him of the mimic. It is enriched with a full number of significant proverbs, which is a great liep to the French bumour in scoffing; and very full of courtship, which maketh all the people complimental. The poorest cobbler in the village hath his conrt cring s and his cau bénite de cour, his court holy-water, as perfectly as the Prince of Condé.

French Love of Dancing. At my being there, the sport was dancing, an exercise much nised by the French, who do naturally affect it. And it sceins this natural inclination is so strong and deep rooted, thai neither age nor the absence of a smiling fortune can prevail against it. For on this dancing green there assembleth not only youth and gentry, but al.o age and beggary; old wives, which could not set foot to ground without a crutch in the streets, had here taught their feet to amble; yon would have thought, by the cleanly conveyance and carriage of their bodies, that they had been troubled with the sciatica, and yet so eager in the sport, as if their dancing-days should bever be done. Somo there was so razred, that a swift galliard would almost have shaken them into nakedness, and they, also, most violent to have their carcasses directed in a measure. To have attempted the staying of them at home, or the persunding of them to work when they heard the fiddle, had been a task too uwielely for Hercules. In this mixture of age and condition, did we observe them at their pastime; the rags being so interwoven with the silks, and wrinkled browe so interchangeably mingled with fresh beauties, thint you would have thought it to have been a muiinery of fortunes; as for those of both sexes which wer: aliogether post action, they had cansed themeelves to be carried thither in their chairs, and trod the measures with their eyes.*

OWEN FELTHAM. OWEN FELTHAM or FELLTILAM (circa 1610–1678), the author of a work of great popularity in its day, entitled “Resolves; Divine, Moral, and Political,' is a writer of whose personal liistory little is known, except that he was of a good Suffolk family, and lived for some years in the house of the Earl of Thomond. The first part of hisResolves' appeared in 1628; the second part in 1707, and in two years it had reached the twelfth edition, The work consists of essays moral and religious, in the sententious style of that perioil, and was perbaps suggested by Bacon's E-says. Mr. Hallam has characterised Feltham as one of our worst writers in point of style. He is, indeed, often affected and obscure, but his essays have a fine vein of moral observation and reflection, with occasional picturesqueness of expression.

* Goldsmith. a century and a quarter after this period, finely illustrated the same nasional peculiarity :

Alike all ages: dames of ancient days
Have led their children through the mirthful maze :
And the gay grind wire, skilled in gestelor
Has frisked beneath the burden of threescore.

The Traveller.

Moderation in Grief. I llke of Solon's course, in conforting his constant friend ; when, taking him up to the top of a turret, over-looking all the piled buildings, he bids him think how many discontents there had been in those houses since their framing-how many are, and how many will be; then, if he can, to leave the world's calamities, and mourn but for his own. To mourn for none else were hardness and injustice. To mourn for all were endless. The best way is to uncontract the brow, and let the world's mad spleen fret, for that we smile in woes.

Silence was a full answer in that philosopher, that being asked what he thought of human life, said nothing, turned him round, and vanished.

Limitation of Iluman Knowledge. Learning is like a river whose head being far in the land, is at first rising little, and easily viewed: but, still as you go, it gapeth with a wider bank, not without pleasure and delightful winding, while it is on both sides set with trees, and the bk aufies of various flowers. But still the further you follow it, the deeper and the broader 'tis; till at lust, it inwaves itself in the unfathomed ocean: there you see more water, but no shoreno end of that liquid, fluid vastness. In many things we may sound Nature, in the shallows of her revelations. We may trace her to lier second causes: but, beyond them, we meet with nothing but the puzzle of the soul, and the dazzle of the inind's dim eyes. While we speak of things that are that we may dissect, and have power and means to find the causes, there is soine pleasure, some certainty: But when we come to metaphysics, to long-buried antiquity, and unto unrevealed divinity, we are in a sea, which is deeper than the short reach of the line of man. Much inay be gained by studious inquisition; but more will ever rest, which man cunnot discover.

Against Readiness to take Offence. We make ourselves more injuries than are offered 18; they many times pass for wrongs in our own thoughts, that were never ment so by the heart of liim that speaketh. The apprehcusion of wrong hurts more than the sharpest part of the wrong done. So, by falsely making ourselves patients of wrong, we become the true and first actors. It is not good, in matters of discourtesy, to dive into a man's mind, beyond his own cominent; nor to stir upon a doubtful indiguity withont it, uuless we have proofs that carry weight and conviction with them. Words do sometimes fly from the tongue that ihe heart did neither hatch nor hurbour. While we think to revenge an injury, we many times begin one ; and after that, repent our misconceptions. In things that may have a double sense, it is good to think the better was intended; so shull we still both keep our friends and quietness.

Against Detraction, In some dispositions there is such an envious kind of pride, that they cannot endure that any but Memselves should be set forth as excolent; so that, whes they heur one justly praised, they will either openly detract from his virtues, or, if those virtues be like a clear and shining light, eminent and distinguished, ro that he cannot be safely traduced by the tongue, they will then raise a suspicion against him by a mysterious silence, as if there were something remaining to be told, which over clouded even his brightest glory. Surely, if we considered detraction to proceed, as it does, from envy, and to be long only to deficient minds, we should find that is applaud virtue would procure us far more honour, than underbandeilly se king to its parage her. The foriner would shew that we loved what we commended, while the latter tells the world we grudge that in others which we want in ourselves. It is one of the basest offices of mu to make his tongue the lash of the worthy. Even if we do know of faults in others, I think we can scarcely shew ourselves more nobly virtuous than in having the charity to conceal them; so that we do not flatter or incourage them in their failings. But to relate anything we may know against our neighbour, in his absence, is most unbeseeming couduct. And who will not condemin him as a trator to reputation and society, who tells the private fault of his friend to the public and ill-natured world ? When two friends part, they should lock up one another's secrets, and exchange their keys. The hon si man will rather le a grave to his neighbour's crrcrs, than in any way expose ther.

Of Neglect. There is the same difference between diligence and neglect, that there is betwren a garden properly cultivated and the sluggard's field which fell under Solomon's view, when overgrown with nettles and thorns. The one is clothed with beauty, the other is unpleasant and disgusting to the sight. Negligence is the rust of the soul, that corrodes through all her best resolutions. What mature made for usı, for etrength, and ornament, neglect alone converts to trouble, weakness, and deformity. We need only sit still, and diseases will arise from the mere want of exercise.

How fair soever the soul may be, yet while connected with our fleshy nature, it requires continual care and vigilance to prevent its being soiled and diecoloured. Take the verders from the Flora/ium and a very little time will change it to a wilderness, and turn that which was before a recreation for men into a habitution for vermin. Our life is a warfare; and we ought not, while passing through it, 10 sleep without a sentiuel, or inarch without a scout. He who neglects either of these procautions expose himself to surprise, and to becoming a prey to the diligence and perseverance of his adscrsury.

The mounds of life and virtue, as well as those of pastures, will decay; and if we do not repair them, all the beasts of the field will enter, and tear up everything good which grows within them. With the religious and well-disposed, a slight deviation from wiedom's laws will disturb the mind's fair peace. Macarius did penance for only killing a ypat in anger. Like the Jewish fonch of things unclean, the least miscarriage requires purification. Man is like a watch; if evening and morning he be not wound up with prayer and circumspection, he is unprofitable and false, or serves to mislead If the instrument be not truly set, it will be harsh and out of tune; the diapason dies, when every string does not perform his part. Surely, without a union to God, we cannot be secure or well. Can he be happy who from happiness is divided? To be united to God, we must be intinenced by His goodness, and strive to imitate His perfections. Diligence alone is a good patrimony ; but neglect will wasto the fairest fortune. Oue preserves and gathers; the other, like death, is the dissolution of all. The industrious bee, by her sedulity in summer, lives on honey all the winter. But the drone is not only cast out from ihe hive, but beaten and punished.

No Man can be Good to All, I never yet knew any man so bad, but some have thought him honest and affordod him love; ñor ever any so good, but some have thought him eviland hated him. Few are so stigmatical as that they are not honest to some; and few, again, are so just, as that they seem not to some unequal; cither the ignorance, the euvy, or the partiality of those that judge, do constitute a various man. Nor can a man in hiinseif always appear alike to all. In some, nature hath invested a disparity; in some, rcport haih fore-blinded judgment; and in soine, accident is the cause of disposing us to love or hate. Or, if not these, the variation of the bodies' humours; or, pero baps, not any of these. The soul is often led by secret motions, and loves she knows not why. There are impulsive privacies which urge us to a liking, even against the parliamental acts of the two houses, reason and the common sense; as if there were some hidden beauty, of a more magnetic force than all that the eye can see; and this, too, more powerful at one time than another. Undiscovered influences please 118 now, with what we would sometimes contemn. I have come to the same man that bath now welcomed me with a free expression of love and courtesy, and another time hath left ine usaluted at all; yet, knowing him well, I have been certain of his sound affection; and have found this not an intended neglect, but an indisposedness, or a mind serionsly buried within. Occasion reing the motions of the stirring mind. Like men that walk in their sleep, we are led about, we neither know whither nor how

Meditation. afeditation is the soul's perspective glass ; wherely, in her long remove, she disa cerneth God, as if he were nearer hand. I persuade no man to inake it his wholo life's business, We have bodies as well as souls; and even this world, while we aro in it, ought somewhat to be cared for. As those states are likely to flourish where execution follows round advisements, so is inan when contemplation is seconded by action. Contemplation generates; action propagates. Without the first, the latter is defective; without the last, the first is but abortive and embryone. St. Bernard coni pares contemplation to Rachel, which was the more fair; but action to Leah, which was the more fruitful. I will neither always be busy and doing, nor ever shot up in nothing but thonght. Yet that which some would call idleness, I will call the sweetest part of my life, and that is, my thinking.

ABRAILAM COWLEY. COWLEY (1618-1667) holds a distinguished position among the prose writers of this age; indeed, he has been placed at the head of those who cultivated that clear, easy, and natural style which was sub-equently employer and improved by Dryden, Tillotson, Sir William Temple, and Aldison Jolinson has pointed out as remarkable the contrast between the simplicity of Cowley's prose, and the stiff formality and aff ctation of his poetry. • No avihor,' says he, 'ever kept his verse and liis prose at a greater distance from each other. His thoughts are natural, aụd his style bas a smooth and placid cquability, which has never yet obtained its due commendation, Nothing is fur-sought or hard-laboured; but all is easy without feebleness, and familiar without grossness.' The prose works of Cowley extend to but sixty folio pages, and consist of Essays, which treat of Liberty, Solitude, Obscurily; Agriculture, The Garden, Greatness, Avarice, The Dangers of an Honest Man in much Company, The Shortness of Life and Uncertainty of Riches, The Dinger of Procrastination, Of Myself, &c. He wrote also a Discourse, by way of Vision, concerning the Government of Oliver Cromwell,' and a Proposition for the Acivancement of Experimental Philosophy.' In his Essays, Cowley's longing for peace and retirement is a frequently re. curing theme. But he has also wit and humour, with an occasional touch of satire

Of Myse?f It is a hard and nice subject for a man to write of himself; it grates his cwn heart to say anythius of disparagement, and the reader's ears to hear anything of praise from hinu. There is no danger from me of ottending bim in this kind; neither iny rind, por my body, nor my fortune allow me any materials for that vanty. It is suficient for my own contentment, that they have preserved me from being scandalous, or remarkabic on the defective side. But besides that, I shall hire speak of myself only in relation to the subject of these procedent discourses, and shall be likulier therely to fall into the contempt, than rise up to the estimation of most peo ple. As far as oy inemory can r turn back into my past life, b fore I kuew or wing capable of guessing what the world. or glories, or business of it were, the natural affections on my soul gave a secret bent of avcrsion from them, a3 soinc plants are suid to turn away írom others, by an antipathy impercptible to themselves, and in scrutable to men's und rstanding. Even when I was a very young boy at school, instead of running about on holidays, and playing with my fellows, I was wont to Bical from them, and walk into the fields, either alone with a book, or with some one companion, if I could find any of the saine tempor. I was then too, so much an enemy to constraint, that my musters could never prevail on me, by any persnusions or enco:imgemonts, to learn, withont book, the common rules of granimár, in which they dispensed with me alone, because they found I inade a shift io do the usual cx crcise out of my own rading and observation. That I was then of the saine miud as I am now-which, I confess, I wonder at myself-may appear at the latter end of au ode which I made when I was but thirteen years old, and which was then printed,

The beginning of it is bovish; but of this part which I bere set down, if a very little were corrected, I should hardly now be mach ashamede

with many other vers: 9.

« EelmineJätka »