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contemporary literature, the difficulty of choice has been increased by the superabundance of material. To have included selections even from one-tenth of the writings of recently deceased authors, and those who still live to instruct or entertain their countrymen, would have extended the work to many volumes ; but the Editor hopes that, notwithstanding all omissions enforced upon him by this cause, the work will be found sufficiently varied and comprehensive. He has to return his thanks to Messrs. Longman & Co. for permission to include extracts from the works of Lord Macaulay and the Rev. Sydney Smith, and to Messrs. Chapman and Hall for permission to extract from the works of the late Charles Dickens. He would have been glad to offer the same acknowledgment to the proprietors of the copyright of the works of his friend Mr. Thackeray, who, if living, would not, he thinks, have been well pleased to be unrepresented in this collection; but those gentlemen peremptorily refused permission. Had it not been that the Messrs. Routledge possess the copyright of one work to which Mr. Thackeray was a contributor, no specimen of that eminent writer could have appeared in these pages.
A THOUSAND AND ONE
ONE GEMS OF ENGLISH PROSE.
MORAL AND DESCRIPTIVE.
[LORD Bacon. 1561-1626.]
game, some of quarrel, stood all sociably PROSPERITY AND ADVERSITY. together, listening unto the airs and
accords of the harp ; the sound whereof THE virtue of prosperity is temperance;
no sooner ceased, or was drowned by the virtue of adversity is fortitude. Pros- some louder noise, but every beast reperity is the blessing of the Old Testa- turned to his own nature. Wherein is ment ; adversity is the blessing of the aptly described the nature and condition New, which carrieth the greater benedic- of men, who are full of savage and unre. tion and the clearer revelation of God's claimed desires of profit, "of lust, of favour. Yet even in the Old Testament, revenge": which, as long as they give ear if you listen to David's harp, you shalí to precepts, to laws, to religion, sweetly hear as many hearselike airs as carols
touched with eloquence and persuasion and the pencil of the Holy Ghost hath of books, of sermons, of harangues, so laboured more in describing the afflictions long is society and peace maintained ; of Job than the felicities of Solomon. but if these instruments be silent, or Prosperity is not without many fears and sedition and tumult make them not distastes; and adversity is not without audible, all things dissolve into anarchy comforts and hopes. We see in needle and confusion. works and embroideries, it is more pleasing to have a lively work upon a sad and solemn ground, than to have a
FRIENDSHIP. dark and melancholy work upon a lightsome ground ; judge therefore of the
It had been hard for him that spake pleasure of the heart by the pleasure of it
, to have put more truth and untruth the eye. Certainly, virtue is like precious together in few words, than in that odours, most fragrant where they are
speech, “ Whosoever is delighted in incensed or crushed : for prosperity doth solitude, is either a wild beast or best discover vice, but adversity doth god; "' for it is most true, that a natural best discover virtue.
and secret hatred and aversion towards society, in any man, hath somewhat of
the savage beast ; but it is most untrue, GOVERNMENT.
that it should have any character at all
of the divine nature, except it proceed, IN Orpheus's theatre, all beasts and not out of a pleasure in solitude, but out birds assembled ; and, forgetting their of a love and desire to sequester a man's several appetites, some of prey, some of self for a higher conversation : such as is
found to have been falsely and feignedly faithful counsel, which a man receiveth in some of the heathens--as Epimenides, from his friend ; but before you come to the Candian ; Numa, the Roman ; Em- that, certain it is, that whosoever hath pedocles, the Sicilian; and Apollonius, his mind fraught with many thoughts, his of Tyana ; and truly, and really, in wits and understanding do clarify and divers of the ancient hermits and holy break up, in the communicating and disfathers of the church. But little do men coursing with another: he tosseth his perceive what solitude is, and how far it thoughts more easily—he marshalleth extendeth ; for a crowd is not company, them more orderly—he seeth how they and faces are but a gallery of pictures, and look when they are turned into wordstalk but a tinkling cymbal where there is finally, he waxeth wiser than himself; no love. The Latin adage meeteth with and that more by an hour's discourse it a little: “Magna civitas, magna soli- than by a day's meditation. It was well tudo;' because in a great town friends said by Themistocles to the king of are scattered, so that there is not that Persia, “That speech was like cloth of fellowship, for the most part, which is Arras, opened and put abroad”—whereby in less neighbourhoods; but we may go the imagery doth appear in figure, whereas farther, and affirm most truly, that it in thoughts they lie but as in packs. is a mere and miserable solitude to want Neither is this second fruit of friendship, true friends, without which the world is in opening the understanding, restrained but a wilderness; and, even this scene only to such friends as are able to give a also of solitude, whosoever, in the frame man counsel (they indeed are best), but of his nature and affections, is unfit for even without that a man learneth of him. friendship, he taketh it of the beast, and self, and bringeth his own thoughts to not from humanity. .
light, and whetteth his wits as against a This communicating of a man's self stone, which itself cuts not. In a word, to his friend, works two contrary effects, a man were better relate himself to for it redoubleth joys, and cutteth griefs a statue or picture, than to suffer his in halves ; for there is no man that im- thoughts to pass in smother. parteth his joys to his friend, but he joyeth Add now, to make this second fruit of the more, and no man that imparteth his friendship complete, that other point griefs to his friend, but he grieveth the which lieth more open, and falleth within less. So that it is, in truth, of operation vulgar observation - which is faithful upon a man's mind of like virtue as the counsel from a friend. Heraclitus saith alchymists use to attribute to their stone well, in one of his enigmas, “Dry light for man's body, that it worketh all con- is ever the best ;” and certain it is, that trary effects, but still to the good and the light that a man receiveth by counsel benefit of nature ; but yet, without pray- from another, is drier and purer than ing in aid of alchymists, there is a mani- that which cometh from his own underfest image of this in the ordinary course standing and judgment, which is ever of nature ; for, in bodies, union strength- infused and drenched in his affections and eneth and cherisheth any natural action, customs. So as there is as much differand, on the other side, weakeneth and ence between the counsel that a friend dulleth any violent impression—and even giveth, and that a man giveth himself, as so is it of minds.
there is between the counsel of a friend The second fruit of friendship is health- and of a flatterer ; for there is no such ful and sovereign for the understanding, flatterer as is a man's self, and there is no as the first is for the affections; for friend- such remedy against flattery of a man's ship maketh indeed a fair day in the self as the liberty of a friend. Counsel affections from storm and tempests, but it is of two sorts ; the one concerning manmaketh daylight in the understanding, ners, the other concerning business : for out of darkness and confusion of thoughts. the first, the best preservative to keep the Neither is this to be understood only of mind in health is the faithful admonition of a friend. The calling of a man's self present business, how he dasheth upon to a strict account, is a medicine some other inconvenience—and, therefore, rest times too piercing and corrosive; reading not upon scattered counsels, for they will good books of morality is a little flat and rather distract and mislead, than settle dead; observing our faults in others is and direct. sometimes improper for our case; but the After these two noble fruits of friend. best receipt (best, I say, to work, and ship (peace in the affections, and support best to take) is the admonition of a friend. of the judgment), followeth the last fruit, It is a strange thing to behold what gross which is, like the pomegranate, full of errors and extreme absurdities many many kernels-I mean, aid and bearing (especially of the greater sort) do commit, a part in all actions and occasions. Here, for want of a friend to tell them of them, the best way to represent to life the manito the great damage both of their fame fold use of friendship, is to cast and see and fortune: for, as St. James saith, they how many things there are which a man are as men “that look sometimes into a cannot do himself; and then it will apglass, and presently forget their own shape pear that it was a sparing speech of the and favour :” as for business, a man may ancients, to say
" that a friend is another think, if he will, that two eyes see no himself; for that a friend is far more than more than one; or, that a gamester seeth himself.” Men have their time, and die always more than a looker-on; or, that a many times in desire of some things man in anger is as wise as he that hath which they principally take to heart; the said over the four-and-twenty letters ; or, bestowing of a child, the finishing of a that a musket may be shot off as well work, or the like. If a man have a true upon the arm as upon a rest; and such friend, he may rest almost secure that the other fond and high imaginations, to care of those things will continue after think himself all in all: but when all is him; so that a man hath, as it were, two done, the help of good counsel is that lives in his desires. A man hath a body, which setteth business straight; and if and that body is confined to a place; but any man think that he will take counsel, where friendship is, all offices of life are, but it shall be by pieces ; asking counsel as it were, granted to him and his deputy; in one business of one man, and in for he may exercise them by his friend. another business of another man; it is as How many things are there which a man well (that is to say, better, perhaps, than cannot, with any face or comeliness, say if he asked none at all), but he runneth or do himself? A man can scarce allege two dangers; one, that he shall not be his own merits with modesty, much less faithfully counselled-for it is a rare thing, extol them; a man cannot sometimes except it be from a perfect and entire brook to supplicate or beg; and a numfriend, to have counsel given, but such as ber of the like: but all these things are shall be bowed and crooked to some ends graceful in a friend's mouth, which are which he hath that giveth it; the other, blushing in a man's own. So, again, a that he shall have counsel given, hurtful man's person hath many proper relations and unsafe (though with good meaning), which he cannot put off. A man cannot and mixed partly of mischief and partly speak to his son but as a father; to his of remedy-even as if you would call a wife but as a husband; to his enemy but physician, that is thought good for the upon terms: whereas a friend may speak cure of the disease you complain of, but as the case requires, and not as it sorteth is unacquainted with your body—and with the person. But to enumerate these therefore, may put you in a way for pre- things were endless: I have given the sent cure, but overthroweth your health rule, where a man cannot fitly play his in some other kind, and so cure the dis- own part; if he have not a friend, he ease, and kill the patient: but a friend, may quit the stage. that is wholly acquainted with a man's estate, will beware, by furthering any
tend; “ Abeunt studia in mores;” nay, STUDIES.
there is no stond or impediment in the STUDIES serve for delight, for orna- wit, but may be wrought out by fit ment, and for ability. Their chief use studies: like as diseases of the body may for delight is in privateness and retiring;
have appropriate exercises; bowling is for ornament, is in discourse; and for good for the stone and reins, shooting for ability, is in the judgment and disposition the lungs and breast, gentle walking for of business; for expert men can execute, the stomach, riding for the head and the and perhaps judge of particulars, one by like; so if a man's wit be wandering, let one; but the general counsels, and the him study the mathematics; for in demonplots and marshalling of affairs, come strations, if his wit be called away never best from those that are learned. To so little, he must begin again; if his wit spend too much time in studies, is sloth; be not apt to distinguish or find differto use them too much for ornament, is ences, let him study the schoolmen, for affectation; to make judgment wholly by they are “Cymini sectores;” if he be their rules, is the humour of a scholar; not apt to beat over matters, and to call they perfect nature, and are perfected by up one thing to prove and illustrate experience—for natural abilities are like another, let him study the lawyers' cases: natural plants, that need pruning by so every defect of the mind may have a study; and studies themselves do give special receipt. forth directions too much at large, except they be bounded in by experience. Crafty men contemn studies, simple men admire
OF GREAT PLACE. them, and wise men use them; for they teach not their own use; but that is a Men in great place are thrice servants : wisdom without them, and above them, servants of the sovereign or state ; serwon by observation. Read not to con- vants of fame; and servants of business. tradict and confute, nor to believe and So they have no freedom, neither in take for granted, nor to find talk and dis- their persons; nor in their actions ; nor course, but to weigh and consider. Some in their times. It is a strange desire to books are to be tasted, others to be swal- seek power, and to lose liberty ; or to lowed, and some few to be chewed and seek power over others, and to lose power digested: that is, some books are to be over a man's self. The rising unto place read only in parts; others to be read, but is laborious ; and by pains men come to not curiously; and some few to be read greater pains; and it is sometimes base : wholly, and with diligence and attention. and by indignities, men come to dignities. Some books also may be read by deputy, The standing is slippery, and the regress and extracts made of them by others; is either a downfall, or at least an eclipse, but that would be only in the less im- which is a melancholy thing : Cum non portant arguments, and the meaner sort sis, qui fueris, non esse, cur velis vivere ? of books: else distilled books are, like (“Since you are no longer what you were, common distilled waters, flashy things. here is no reason why you should desire Reading maketh a full mán, conference a to live as a nonentity.") Nay, retire men ready man, and writing an exact man; cannot when they would ; neither will and, therefore, if a man write little, he they when it were reason : but are impahad need have a great memory; if he tient of privateness, even in age and sickconfer little, he had need have a present ness, which require the shadow : like old wit; and if he read little, he had need townsmen that will be still sitting at their have much cunning, to seem to know street door, though thereby they offer age that he doth not. Histories make men to scorn. Certainly, great persons had wise; poets, witty; the mathematics, need to borrow other men's opinions to subtile; natural philosophy, deep; moral, think themselves happy; for if they judge grave; logic and rhetoric, able to con- | by their own feeling, they cannot find it;