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creatures disparage the variety of nature, nor any way confound the works of God. For even in things alike there is diversity; and those that do seem to accord, do manifestly disagree. And thus is man like God; for in the same things that we resemble him, we are utterly different from him. There was never any thing so like another, as in all points to concur; there will ever some reserved difference slip in, to prevent the identity, without which, two several things would not be alike, but the same, which is impossible.
But to return from philosophy to charity: I hold not so narrow a conceit of this virtue, as to conceive that to give alms is only to be charitable, or think a piece of liberality can comprehend the total of charity. Divinity hath wisely divided the acts thereof into many branches, and hath taught us in this narrow way, many paths unto goodness: as many ways as we may do good, so many ways we may be charitable; there are infirmities, not only of body but of soul and fortunes, which do require the merciful hand of our abilities. I cannot contemn a man for ignorance, but behold him with as much pity as I do Lazarus.(2) It is no greater charity to clothe his body, than apparel the nakedness of his soul. It is an honourable object to see the reasons of other men wear our liveries, and
(121) See note 116, and reconcile the passages by supposing the author to have been in a more kindly mood when this was written.-ED.
their borrowed understandings do homage to the bounty of ours. It is the cheapest way of beneficence, and like the natural charity of the sun, illuminates another without obscuring itself. To be reserved and caitiff in this part of goodness is the sordidest piece of covetousness, and more contemptible than pecuniary avarice. To this (as calling myself a scholar) I am obliged by the duty of my condition: I make not, therefore, my head, a grave, but a treasure of knowledge; (122) I intend no monopoly, but a community in learning; I study not for my own sake only, but for theirs that study not for themselves. I envy no man that knows more than myself, but pity them that know less. I instruct no man as an exercise of my knowledge, or with an intent rather to nourish and keep it alive in mine own head, than beget and propagate it in his; and in the midst of all my endeavours, there is but one thought that dejects me, that my acquired parts must perish with myself, nor can be legacied among my honoured friends. I cannot fall out, or contemn a man for an error, or conceive why a difference in opinion should divide an affection for controversies, disputes, and argumentations, both in philosophy and in divinity, if they meet with discreet and peaceable natures, do not infringe the laws of charity in all disputes, so much as there is of passion, so much there is of nothing to the purpose; for then reason, like a
(122) To enlighten mankind, which, in my opinion, is much better than despising them.-ED.
bad hound, spends upon a false scent, (123) and forsakes the question first started. And this is one reason why controversies are never determined; for though they be amply proposed, they are scarce at all handled, they do so swell with unnecessary digressions; and the parenthesis on the party, is often as large as the main discourse upon the subject. The foundations. of religion are already established, and the principles of salvation subscribed unto by all; there remain not many controversies worth a passion, and yet never any disputed without, not only in divinity, but inferior arts: what a Bẞarpaxoμvoμaxía and hot skirmish is betwixt S. and T. in Lucian; how do grammarians hack and slash for the genetive case in Jupiter! How do they break their own pates to salve that of Priscian: Si foret in terris, rideret Democritus! Yea, even amongst wiser militants, how many wounds have been given, and credits slain, for the poor victory of an opinion, or beggerly conquest of a distinction! Scholars are men of peace, they bear no arms, but their tongues
(123) Socrates, in a passage of the Gorgias, alluded to in a former note, makes several very excellent remarks on this common failing. "Like me, I presume," says he to the sophist, "you have been present at many disputations, and have remarked how great is the difficulty, be the subject of the conversation what it may, which men experience, in keeping to the matter in hand, and in conducting the debate to a conclusion with profit to themselves and others. Generally, people accuse each other of being wanting in clearness and precision, and, in consequence, get out of temper, imagine they are contradicted from mere malice, and end by descending to mutual abuse, and the grossest personalities." (Plat. Oper. III. 25.) --ED.
are sharper than Actus's razor; their pens carry fur
ther, and give a louder report than thunder: I had rather stand the shock of a basilisco, than the fury of a merciless pen. It is not mere zeal to learning, or devotion to the muses, that wiser princes patronize the arts and carry an indulgent aspect unto scholars; but a desire to have their names eternized by the memory of their writings, and a fear of the revengeful pen of succeeding ages: for these are the men, that when they have played their parts, and had their exits, must step out and give the moral of their scenes, and deliver unto posterity an inventory of their virtues and vices. (124) And surely there goes a great deal of conscience to the compiling of a history: there is no reproach to the scandal of a story; it is such an authentic kind of falsehood, that with authority belies our good names to all nations and posterity.
(124) And as often as they are able, they take upon themselves the task of chronicling their own deeds, in the hope of throwing dust into the eyes of posterity. Sometimes, unable to write, and apprehending the justice of those who can, they affect to speak contemptuously of authors, taking their revenge, by a kind of prolepsis, for what they know will be said of them. Their sentiments are condensed, and given in somewhat better language than they could themselves have mastered, by the youthful Phædros, in the Dialogue named after him. Kaì oúvololá, says he, που καὶ αὐτὸς ὅτι οἱ μέγιστον δυνάμενοί τε καὶ σεμνότατοι ἐν ταῖς πόλεσιν αἰσχύνονται λόγους τε γράφειν καὶ καταλείπειν συγγράμματα ἑαυτῶν, δόξαν φοβούμενοι τοῦ ἔπειτα χρόνου, μὴ σοφισταὶ καλῶνται. But Socrates soon convinces the young man that all these feints are absurd; and that none think meanly of literature, but such as despair of rendering it a stepping-stone to fame. (Plat. Oper. I. 62 f. Bekk.)—ED.
There is another offence unto charity, which no author hath ever written of, and few take notice of; and that is the reproach, not of whole professions, mysteries, and conditions, but of whole nations; wherein by opprobrious epithets we miscall each other, and by an uncharitable logic, from a disposition in a few, conclude a habit in all.
Le mutin Anglais, et le bravache Ecossois;
Le poltron Romain, le larron de Gasgogne,
St. Paul, that calls the Cretans liars, doth it but indirectly, and upon quotation of their own poet. It is as bloody a thought in one way as Nero's was in another. For by a word we wound a thousand, and at one blow assassinate the honour of a nation. It is as complete a piece of madness to miscall and rave against the times, or think to recall men to reason, by a fit of passion. Democritus, that thought to laugh the times into goodness, seems to me as deeply hypochondriac, as Heraclitus that bewailed them. It moves not my spleen to behold the multitude in their proper humours, that is, in their fits of folly and madness, as well understanding that wisdom is not profaned unto the world, and it is the privilege of a few to be virtuous. They that endeavour to abolish vice, destroy also virtue, (125) for contraries, though they destroy one another, are yet in life of one another. Thus
(125) But they promote happiness. Even regarding the matter philosophically, however, this is a mere sophism; it is as if one should say, 66 By abolishing the crooked, you also destroy the straight." So long as the power to err remains, virtue will re