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hardest to it. So that this appearance of meliority and pre-eminence is a sign of enervation and weak



“ That kind is altogether best, whose excellence

or pre-eminence is best.” APPERTAINING to this are the forms: Let us not wander in generalities ; let us compare particular with particular,” &c. This appearance, though it seem of strength, and rather logical than rhetorical, yet is very often a fallacy.

Sometimes, because some things are in kind very dangerous; which, if they escape, prove excellent; so that the kind is inferior, because it is so subject to peril: but that which is excellent, being proved, is superior. As the blossom of March, and the blossom of May, whereof the French verse goeth:

Burgeon de Mars, enfans de Paris, *

Si un eschape, bien vaut dix.So that the blossom of May is generally better than the blossom of March; and yet the best blossom of March is better than the best blossom of May.

Sometimes, because the nature of some kinds is to be more equal, and more indifferent, and not to

* The buds of March are like Paris children--if one escapes it is worth ten others.

have very distant degrees : as hath been noted in the warmer climates, the people are generally more wise; but in the northern climate, particular wits are greater. So in many armies, if the matter should be tried by duel between two champions, the victory should go on the one side; and yet, if it were tried by the gross, it would go on the other side. For excellencies go as it were by chance ; but kinds go by a more certain nature, as by discipline

in war.

Lastly, many kinds have much refuse, which countervail that which they have excellent; and therefore generally metal is more precious than stone: and yet a diamond is more precious than gold.


“ That which hath relation to Truth, is greater

than that which refers to Opinion. But the measure and trial of that which belongs to Opinion, is this: It is that which a man would not do, if

he thought it would not be known.So the Epicures say to the Stoics' Felicity placed in Virtue, that it is like the felicity of a player, who, if he were left by his auditors, and their applause, would straight be out of heart and countenance; and therefore they call Virtue, bonum thea


trale ; that is, “ a stage good.” But of Riches the poet saith:

“ Me people hiss abroad,
But I myself applaud.”

And of Pleasure,

“ Your welcome joys within let stifled lie;
But counterfeit abroad, a modesty.”

The fallacy of this appearance is somewhat subtile, though the answer to the example be ready: for Virtue is not chosen propter aurem popularem, for the applause of the people; but contrariwise, Maximè omnium teipsum reverere, a man ought to stand most in awe of himself; so that a virtuous man will be virtuous in private, and not in public only: though perchance it will be more strong by glory and fame; as an heat, which is doubled by reflection. But that denieth the supposition, it doth not reprehend the fallacy, whereof the reprehension is a law, that Virtue (such as is joined with labour and conflict) would not be chosen, but for Fame and Opinion: yet it followeth not, that the chief motive of the election should not be real, and for itself ; for Fame may be only the impelling or urging cause, and not the constituting, or efficient cause. As if there were two horses, and the one would do better without the spur than the other: but again, the other with the spur would far exceed the doing of the former, giving him the spur also; yet the latter will be judged to be the better horse : and the form as to say, Tush, the life of this horse is but in the spur," will not serve as to a wise judgment: for, since the ordinary instrument of horsemanship is the spur, and that it is no matter of impediment or burthen, the horse is not to be accounted the less of, which will not do well without the spur ; but the other is to be reckoned rather a delicacy, than a virtue. So Glory and Honour are the spurs to Virtue : and although Virtue would languish without them, yet since they be always at hand to attend Virtue, Virtue is not said to be the less chosen for itself, because it needeth the spur of Fame and Reputation. And therefore that position, That the mark of a thing chosen for opinion, and not for truth sake, is this, That one would not do it, if he thought it would not be known,” is determined.



“ That which keeps a matter safe and entire, is

good: but what is destitute and unprovided of a retreat, is bad. For, whereas all ability of acting is good ; not to be able to withdraw oneself,

is a kind of impotency." HEREOF Æsop framed the fable of the two Frogs that consulted together in the time of drought,



(when many plashes that they had repaired to were dry) what was to be done : and the one proposed to

down into a deep well, because it was likely the water would not fail there; but the other answered, Yea, but if it do fail, how shall we get up again?And the reason is, that human actions are so uncertain, and subject to perils, as to make that seem the best course, which hath most passages out of it. Appertaining to this persuasion, the forms are, “ You shall engage yourself:" on the other side, “ Take

" what lot you will;" or, you shall keep the matter in your own hand. The result of it is, that examining and resolving in all actions is necessary. For, as he saith well, “ Not to resolve is to resolve ;" so many times it breeds as many necessities, and engageth as far, in some other sort, as to resolve. Thus it is but the covetous man's disease translated in effect; for the covetous man will enjoy nothing, because he will have his full store, and possibility to enjoy the more: and for this reason, a man would then execute nothing, in order that he might be still indifferent, and at liberty to execute any thing. But then, necessity, and this once having cast the dice, hath many times an advantage ; because it awaketh the powers of the mind, and strengtheneth endeavour, which are able to deal with any others, and master them upon necessity.

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