One of the greatest miseries that can befall a man, in the world's esteem, is poverty or want, which makes men steal, bear false witness, swear, forswear, contend, murder and rebel, which breaketh sleep, and causeth death itself. ουδεν πενιας Βαρυτζρον εστι φορτιον [oyden penias Baruteron esti phortion], no burden (saith Menander) so intolerable as poverty: it makes men desperate, it erects and dejects, census honores, census amicitias; money makes, but poverty mars, &c. and all this in the world's esteem: yet if considered aright, it is a great blessing in itself, a happy estate, and yields no cause of discontent, or that men should therefore account themselves vile, hated of God, forsaken, miserable, unfortunate. Christ himself was poor, born in a manger, and had not a house to hide his head in all his life, "lest any man should make poverty a judgment of God, or an odious estate." And as he was himself, so he informed his Apostles and Disciples, they were all poor, Prophets poor, Apostles poor, (Act. iii. "Silver and gold have I none.") "As sorrowing" (saith Paul) "and yet always rejoicing; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things," 1 Cor. vi. 10. Your great Philosophers have been voluntarily poor, not only Christians, but many others. Crates Thebanus was adored for a God in Athens, "a nobleman by birth, many servants he had, an honourable attendance, much wealth, many manors, fine apparel; but when he saw this, that all the wealth of the world was but brittle, uncertain and no whit availing to live well, he flung his burden into the sea, and renounced his estate." Those Curii and Fabricii will be ever renowned for contempt of these fopperies, wherewith the world is so much affected. Amongst Christians I could reckon up many kings and queens, that have forsaken their crowns and fortunes, and wilfully abdicated themselves from these so much esteemed toys; many that have refused honours, titles, and all this vain pomp and happiness, which others so ambitiously seek, and carefully study to compass and attain. Riches I deny not are God's good gifts, and blessings; and honor est in honorante, honours are from God; both rewards of virtue, and fit to be sought after, sued for, and may well be possessed: yet no such great happiness in having, or misery in wanting of them. Dantur quidem bonis, saith Austin, ne quis mala æstimet: malis autem ne quis nimis bona, good men have wealth that we should not think it evil; and bad men that they should not rely on or hold it so good; as the rain falls on both sorts, so are riches given to good and bad, sed bonis in bonum, but they are good only to the godly. But compare both estates, for natural parts they are not unlike; and a beggar's child, as Cardan well observes, "is no whit inferior to a prince's, most part better;" and for those accidents of fortune, it will easily appear there is no such odds, no such extraordinary happiness in the one, or misery in the other. He is rich, wealthy, fat; what gets he by it? pride, insolency, lust, ambition, cares, fears, suspicion, trouble, anger, emulation, and many filthy diseases of body and mind. He hath indeed variety of dishes, better fare, sweet wine, pleasant sauce, dainty music, gay clothes, lords it bravely out, &c., and all that which Misillus admired in Lucian; but with them he hath the gout, dropsies, apoplexies, palsies, stone, pox, rheums, catarrhs, crudities, oppilations, melancholy, &c., lust enters in, anger, ambition, according to Chrysostom, "the sequel of riches is pride, riot, intemperance, arrogancy, fury, and all irrational courses."
------"turpi fregerunt sæcula luxu
Divitiæ molles"- -----
(Juven. Sat. 6. "Effeminate riches have destroyed the age by the introduction of shameful luxury.")
with their variety of dishes, many such maladies of body and mind get in, which the poor man knows not of. As Saturn in Lucian answered the discontented commonalty, (which because of their neglected Saturnal feasts in Rome, made a grievous complaint and exclamation against rich men) that they were much mistaken in supposing such happiness in riches; "you see the best" (said he) "but you know not their several gripings and discontents:" they are like painted walls, fair without, rotten within: diseased, filthy, crazy, full of intemperance's effects; "and who can reckon half? if you but knew their fears, cares, anguish of mind and vexation, to which they are subject, you would hereafter renounce all riches."
"O si pateant pectora divitum,
Quantos intus sublimis agit
Fortuna metus? Brutia
Coro Pulsante fretum mitior unda est."
"O that their breasts were but conspicuous,
How full of fear within, how furious?
The narrow seas are not so boisterous."
Yea, but he hath the world at will that is rich, the good things of the earth: suave est de magno tollere acervo, (it is sweet to draw from a great heap) he is a happy man, adored like a god, a prince, every man seeks to him, applauds, honours, admires him. He hath honours indeed, abundance of all things; but (as I said) withal "pride, lust, anger, faction, emulation, fears, cares, suspicion enter with his wealth;" for his intemperance he hath aches, crudities, gouts, and as fruits of his idleness, and fullness, lust, surfeiting and drunkenness, all manner of diseases: pecuniis augetur improbitas, the wealthier, the more dishonest. "He is exposed to hatred, envy, peril and treason, fear of death, degradation," &c. 'tis lubrica statio et proxima præcipitio, and the higher he climbs, the greater is his fall.
------"celsæ graviore casu
Decidunt turres,feriuntque summos"
Fulgura montes, the lightning commonly sets on fire the highest towers; in the more eminent place he is, the more subject to fall.
"Rumpitur innumeris arbos uberrima pomis,
Et subito nimiæ præcipitantur opes."
As a tree that is heavy laden with fruit breaks her own boughs, with their own greatness they ruin themselves: which Joachimus Camerarius hath elegantly expressed in his 13 Emblem cent. 1. Inopem se copia fecit. Their means is their misery, though they do apply themselves to the times, to lie, dissemble, collogue and flatter their lieges, obey, second his will and commands as much as may be, yet too frequently they miscarry, they fat themselves like so many hogs, as Aeneas Sylvius observes, that when they are full fed, they may be devoured by their princes, as Seneca by Nero was served, Sejanus by Tiberius, and Haman by Ahasuerus: I resolve with Gregory, potestas culminis, est tempestas mentis; et quo dignitas altior, casus gravior, honour is a tempest, the higher they are elevated, the more grievously depressed. For the rest of his prerogatives which wealth affords, as he hath more his expenses are the greater. "When goods increase, they are increased that eat them; and what good cometh to the owners, but the beholding thereof with the eyes?" Eccles. iv. 10.
"Millia frumenti tua triverit area centum,
Non tuus hinc capiet venter plus quam meus"------
Hor. "Although a hundred thousand bushels of wheat may have been threshed in your granaries, your stomach will not contain more than mine."
"an evil sickness," Solomon calls it, "and reserved to them for an evil," 12 verse. "They that will be rich fall into many fears and temptations, into many foolish and noisome lusts, which drown men in perdition." 1 Tim. vi. 9. "Gold and silver hath destroyed many," Ecclus. viii. 2. divitia sæculi sunt laquei diaboli: so writes Bernard; worldly wealth is the devil's bait: and as the Moon when she is fuller of light is still farthest from the Sun, the more wealth they have, the farther they are commonly from God. (If I had said this of myself, rich men would have pulled me to pieces; but hear who saith, and who seconds it, an Apostle) therefore St. James bids them "weep and howl for the miseries that shall come upon them; their gold shall rust and canker, and eat their flesh as fire," James v. 1, 2, 3. I may then boldly conclude with Theodoret, quotiescunque divitiis affluentem, &c. "As often as you shall see a man abounding in wealth," qui gemmis bibit et Serrano dormit in ostro, "and naught withal, I beseech you call him not happy, but esteem him unfortunate, because he hath many occasions offered to live unjustly; on the other side, a poor man is not miserable, if he be good, but therefore happy, that those evil occasions are taken from him."
"Non possidentem multa vocaveris
Recte beatum; rectius occupat
Nomen beati, qui deorum
Muneribus sapienter uti,
Duramque callet pauperiem pati,
Pejusque lætho flagitium timet."
"He is not happy that is rich,
And hath the world at will,
But he that wisely can God's gifts
Possess and use them still:
That suffers and with patience
Abides hard poverty,
And chooseth rather for to die;
Than do such villainy."
Wherein now consists his happiness? what privileges hath he more than other men? or rather what miseries, what cares and discontents hath he not more than other men?
"Non enim gazæ, neque consularis
Summovet lictor miseros tumultus
Mentis, et curas laqueata circum
("Nor treasures, nor majors officers remove
The miserable tumults of the mind:
Or cares that lie about, or fly above
Their high-roofed houses, with huge beams combin'd.")
'Tis not his wealth can vindicate him, let him have Job's inventory, sint Cr?si et Crassi licet, non hos Pactolus aureas undas agens, eripiat unquum e miseriis, Croesus or rich Crassus cannot now command health, or get himself a stomach. "His worship," as Apuleius describes him, "in all his plenty and great provision, is forbidden to eat, or else hath no appetite," (sick in bed, can take no rest, sore grieved with some chronic disease, contracted with full diet and ease, or troubled in mind) "when as, in the meantime, all his household are merry, and the poorest servant that he keeps doth continually feast." 'Tis Bracteata felicitas, as Seneca terms it, tinfoiled happiness, infelix felicitas, an unhappy kind of happiness, if it be happiness at all. His gold, guard, clattering of harness, and fortifications against outward enemies, cannot free him from inward fears and cares.
"Reveraque metus hominum, curæque sequaces
Nec metuunt fremitus armorum, aut ferrea tela,
Audacterque inter reges, regumque potentes
Versantur, neque fulgorem reverentur ab auro."
("Indeed men still attending fears and cares
Nor armours clashing, nor fierce weapons fears:
With kings converse they boldly, and kings peers,
Fearing no flashing that from gold appears.")
Look how many servants he hath, and so many enemies he suspects; for liberty he entertains ambition; his pleasures are no pleasures; and that which is worst, he cannot be private or enjoy himself as other men do, his state is a servitude. A countryman may travel from kingdom to kingdom, province to province, city to city, and glut his eyes with delightful objects, hawk, hunt, and use those ordinary disports, without any notice taken, all which a prince or a great man cannot do. He keeps in for state, ne majestatis dignitas evilescat, as our China kings, of Borneo, and Tartarian Chams, those aurea mancipia, are said to do, seldom or never seen abroad, ut major sit hominum erga se observantia, which the Persian kings so precisely observed of old. A poor man takes more delight in an ordinary meal's meat, which he hath but seldom, than they do with all their exotic dainties and continual viands; Quippe voluptatem commendat rarior usus, 'tis the rarity and necessity that makes a thing acceptable and pleasant. Darius, put to flight by Alexander, drank puddle water to quench his thirst, and it was pleasanter, he swore, than any wine or mead. All excess, as Epictetus argues, will cause a dislike; sweet will be sour, which made that temperate Epicurus sometimes voluntarily fast. But they being always accustomed to the same dishes, (which are nastily dressed by slovenly cooks, that after their obscenities never wash their bawdy hands) be they fish, flesh, compounded, made dishes, or whatsoever else, are therefore cloyed; nectar's self grows loathsome to them, they are weary of all their fine palaces, they are to them but as so many prisons. A poor man drinks in a wooden dish, and eats his meat in wooden spoons, wooden platters, earthen vessels, and such homely stuff: the other in gold, silver, and precious stones; but with what success? in auro bibitur venenum, fear of poison in the one, security in the other. A poor man is able to write, to speak his mind, to do his own business himself; locuples mittit parasitum, saith Philostratus, a rich man employs a parasite, and as the major of a city, speaks by the town clerk, or by Mr. Recorder, when he cannot express himself. Nonius the senator hath a purple coat as stiff with jewels as his mind is full of vices; rings on his fingers worth 20,000 sesterces, and as Perox the Persian king, an union in his ear worth one hundred pounds weight of gold: Cleopatra hath whole boars and sheep served up to her table at once, drinks jewels dissolved, 40,000 sesterces in value; but to what end?
"Num tibi cum fauces urit sitis, aurea quæris
Doth a man that is adry desire to drink in gold? Doth not a cloth suit become him as well, and keep him as warm, as all their silks, satins, damasks, taffeties and tissues? Is not homespun cloth as great a preservative against cold, as a coat of Tartar lamb's-wool, died in grain, or a gown of giant's beards? Nero, saith Sueton., never put on one garment twice, and thou hast scarce one to put on? what's the difference? one's sick, the other sound: such is the whole tenor of their lives, and that which is the consummation and upshot of all, death itself makes the greatest difference. One like a hen feeds on the dunghill all his days, but is served up at last to his Lord's table; the other as a falcon is fed with partridge and pigeons, and carried on his master's fist, but when he dies is flung to the muck-hill, and there lies. The rich man lives like Dives jovially here on earth, temulentus divitiis, make the best of it; and "boasts himself in the multitude of his riches," Psalm xlix. 6. 11. he thinks his house "called after his own name," shall continue for ever; "but he perisheth like a beast," verse 20. "his way utters his folly," verse 13. male parta, male dilabuntur; "like sheep they lie in the grave," verse 14. Puncto descendunt ad infernum, "they spend their days in wealth, and go suddenly down to hell," Job xxi. 13. For all physicians and medicines enforcing nature, a swooning wife, families' complaints, friends' tears, dirges, masses, nænias, funerals, for all orations, counterfeit hired acclamations, eulogiums, epitaphs, hearses, heralds, black mourners, solemnities, obelisks, and Mausolean tombs, if he have them, at least, he, like a hog, goes to hell with a guilty conscience (propter hos dilatavit infernos os suum), and a poor man's curse; his memory stinks like the snuff of a candle when it is put out; scurrilous libels, and infamous obloquies accompany him. When as poor Lazarus is Dei sacrarium, the temple of God, lives and dies in true devotion, hath no more attendants, but his own innocency, the heaven a tomb, desires to be dissolved, buried in his mother's lap, and hath a company of Angels ready to convey his soul into Abraham's bosom, he leaves an everlasting and a sweet memory behind him. Crassus and Sylla are indeed still recorded, but not so much for their wealth as for their victories: Croesus for his end, Solomon for his wisdom. In a word, "to get wealth is a great trouble, anxiety to keep, grief to lose it."
"Quid dignum stolidis mentibus imprecer?
Opes, honores ambiant:
Et cum falsa gravi mole paraverint,
Tum vera cognoscant bona."
(B?thius de consol. phil. l. 3. "How contemptible stolid minds! They covet riches and titles, and when they have obtained these commodities of false weight and measures, then, and not before, they understand what is truly valuable.")
But consider all those other unknown, concealed happinesses, which a poor man hath (I call them unknown, because they be not acknowledged in the world's esteem, or so taken) O fortunatos nimium bona si sua norint: happy they are in the meantime if they would take notice of it, make use, or apply it to themselves. "A poor man wise is better than a foolish king," Eccles. ii. 13. "Poverty is the way to heaven," "the mistress of philosophy," "the mother of religion, virtue, sobriety, sister of innocency, and an upright mind." How many such encomiums might I add out of the fathers, philosophers, orators? It troubles many that are poor, they account of it as a great plague, curse, a sign of God's hatred, ipsum scelus, damned villainy itself, a disgrace, shame and reproach; but to whom, or why? "If fortune hath envied me wealth, thieves have robbed me, my father have not left me such revenues as others have," that I am a younger brother, basely born,-- cui sine luce genus, surdumque parentum -- nomen, of mean parentage, a dirt-dauber's son, am I therefore to be blamed? "an eagle, a bull, a lion is not rejected for his poverty, and why should a man?" 'Tis fortunæ telum, non culpæ, fortune's fault, not mine. "Good Sir, I am a servant," (to use Seneca's words) "howsoever your poor friend; a servant, and yet your chamber-fellow, and if you consider better of it, your fellow-servant." I am thy drudge in the world's eyes, yet in God's sight peradventure thy better, my soul is more precious, and I dearer unto him. Etiam servi diis curæ sunt, as Evangelus at large proves in Macrobius, the meanest servant is most precious in his sight. Thou art an epicure, I am a good Christian; thou art many parasangs before me in means, favour, wealth, honour, Claudius's Narcissus, Nero's Massa, Domitian's Parthenius, a favourite, a golden slave; thou coverest thy floors with marble, thy roofs with gold, thy walls with statues, fine pictures, curious hangings, &c., what of all this? calcas opes, &c., what's all this to true happiness? I live and breathe under that glorious heaven, that august capitol of nature, enjoy the brightness of stars, that clear light of sun and moon, those infinite creatures, plants, birds, beasts, fishes, herbs, all that sea and land afford, far surpassing all that art and opulentia can give. I am free, and which Seneca said of Rome, culmen liberos texit, sub marmore et auro postea servitus habitavit, thou hast Amaltheæ cornu, plenty, pleasure, the world at will, I am despicable and poor; but a word overshot, a blow in choler, a game at tables, a loss at sea, a sudden fire, the prince's dislike, a little sickness, &c., may make us equal in an instant; howsoever take thy time, triumph and insult awhile, cinis æquat, as Alphonsus said, death will equalise us all at last. I live sparingly, in the mean time, am clad homely, fare hardly; is this a reproach? am I the worse for it? am I contemptible for it? am I to be reprehended? A learned man in Nevisanus was taken down for sitting amongst gentlemen, but he replied, "my nobility is about the head, yours declines to the tail," and they were silent. Let them mock, scoff and revile, 'tis not thy scorn, but his that made thee so; "he that mocketh the poor, reproacheth him that made him," Prov. xi. 5. "and he that rejoiceth at affliction, shall not be unpunished." For the rest, the poorer thou art, the happier thou art, ditior est, at non melior, saith Epictetus, he is richer, not better than thou art, not so free from lust, envy, hatred, ambition.
"Beatus ille qui procul negotiis
Paterna rura bobus exercet suis."
Happy he, in that he is freed from the tumults of the world, he seeks no honours, gapes after no preferment, flatters not, envies not, temporiseth not, but lives privately, and well contented with his estate;
"Nec spes corde avidas, nec curam pascit inanem
Securus quo fata cadant."
He is not troubled with state matters, whether kingdoms thrive better by succession or election; whether monarchies should be mixed, temperate, or absolute; the house of Ottomon's and Austria is all one to him; he inquires not after colonies or new discoveries; whether Peter were at Rome, or Constantine's donation be of force; what comets or new stars signify, whether the earth stand or move, there be a new world in the moon, or infinite worlds, &c. He is not touched with fear of invasions, factions or emulations;
"Felix ille animi, divisque simillimus ipsis,
Quem non mordaci resplendens gloria fuco
Solicitat, non fastosi mala gaudia luxus,
Sed tacitos sinit ire dies, et paupere cultu
Exigit innocuæ tranquilla silentia vitæ.
"A happy soul, and like to God himself,
Whom not vain glory macerates or strife.
Or wicked joys of that proud swelling pelf,
But leads a still, poor, and contented life."
A secure, quiet, blissful state he hath, if he could acknowledge it. But here is the misery, that he will not take notice of it; he repines at rich men's wealth, brave hangings, dainty fare, as Simonides objected to Hieron, he hath all the pleasures of the world, in lectis eburneis dormit, vinum phialis bibit, optimis unguentis delibuitur, "he knows not the affliction of Joseph, stretching himself on ivory beds, and singing to the sound of the viol." And it troubles him that he hath not the like: there is a difference (he grumbles) between Laplolly and Pheasants, to tumble i' th' straw and lie in a down bed, betwixt wine and water, a cottage and a palace. "He hates nature" (as Pliny characterised him) "that she hath made him lower than a god, and is angry with the gods that any man goes before him;" and although he hath received much, yet (as Seneca follows it) "he thinks it an injury that he hath no more, and is so far from giving thanks for his tribuneship, that he complains he is not praetor, neither doth that please him, except he may be consul." Why is he not a prince, why not a monarch, why not an emperor? Why should one man have so much more than his fellows, one have all, another nothing? Why should one man be a slave or drudge to another? One surfeit, another starve, one live at ease, another labour, without any hope of better fortune? Thus they grumble, mutter, and repine: not considering that inconstancy of human affairs, judicially conferring one condition with another, or well weighing their own present estate. What they are now, thou mayst shortly be; and what thou art they shall likely be. Expect a little, compare future and times past with the present, see the event, and comfort thyself with it. It is as well to be discerned in commonwealths, cities, families, as in private men's estates. Italy was once lord of the world, Rome the queen of cities, vaunted herself of two myriads of inhabitants; now that all-commanding country is possessed by petty princes, Rome a small village in respect. Greece of old the seat of civility, mother of sciences and humanity; now forlorn, the nurse of barbarism, a den of thieves. Germany then, saith Tacitus, was incult and horrid, now full of magnificent cities: Athens, Corinth, Carthage, how flourishing cities, now buried in their own ruins! Corvorum, ferarum, aprorum et bestiarum lustra, like so many wildernesses, a receptacle of wild beasts. Venice a poor fisher-town; Paris, London, small cottages in Caesar's time, now most noble emporiums. Valois, Plantagenet, and Scaliger how fortunate families, how likely to continue! now quite extinguished and rooted out. He stands aloft today, full of favour, wealth, honour, and prosperity, in the top of fortune's wheel: tomorrow in prison, worse than nothing, his son's a beggar. Thou art a poor servile drudge, F?x populi, a very slave, thy son may come to be a prince, with Maximinus, Agathocles, &c. a senator, a general of an army; thou standest bare to him now, workest for him, drudgest for him and his, takest an alms of him: stay but a little, and his next heir peradventure shall consume all with riot, be degraded, thou exalted, and he shall beg of thee. Thou shalt be his most honourable patron, he thy devout servant, his posterity shall run, ride, and do as much for thine, as it was with Frisgobald and Cromwell, it may be for thee. Citizens devour country gentlemen, and settle in their seats; after two or three descents, they consume all in riot, it returns to the city again.
------"Novus incola venit;
Nam propriæ telluris herum natura, neque illum.
Nec me, nec quenquam statuit; nos expulit ille:
Illum aut nequities, aut vafri inscitia juris."
------"have we liv'd at a more frugal rate,
Since this new stranger seiz'd on our estate?
Nature will no perpetual heir assign,
Or make the farm his property or mine.
He turn'd us out: but follies all his own,
Or lawsuits and their knaveries yet unknown,
Or, all his follies and his lawsuits past,
Some long-liv'd heir shall turn him out at last."
A lawyer buys out his poor client, after a while his client's posterity buy out him and his; so things go round, ebb and flow.
"Nunc ager Umbreni sub nomine, nuper Ofelli
Dictus erat, nulli proprius, sed cedit in usum
Nunc mihi, nunc aliis;"------
"The farm, once mine, now bears Umbrenus' name;
The use alone, not property, we claim;
Then be not with your present lot depressed,
And meet the future with undaunted breast;"
as he said then, ager cujus, quot habes Dominos? So say I of land, houses, movables and money, mine today, his anon, whose tomorrow? In fine, (as Machiavel observes) "virtue and prosperity beget rest; rest idleness; idleness riot; riot destruction from which we come again to good laws; good laws engender virtuous actions; virtue, glory, and prosperity;" "and 'tis no dishonour then" (as Guicciardine adds) "for a flourishing man, city, or state to come to ruin," "nor infelicity to be subject to the law of nature." Ergo terrena calcanda, sitienda c?lestia, (therefore I say) scorn this transitory state, look up to heaven, think not what others are, but what thou art: Qua parte locatus es in re: and what thou shalt be, what thou mayst be. Do (I say) as Christ himself did, when he lived here on earth, imitate him as much as in thee lies. How many great Caesars, mighty monarchs, tetrarchs, dynasties, princes lived in his days, in what plenty, what delicacy, how bravely attended, what a deal of gold and silver, what treasure, how many sumptuous palaces had they, what provinces and cities, ample territories, fields, rivers, fountains, parks, forests, lawns, woods, cells, &c.? Yet Christ had none of all this, he would have none of this, he voluntarily rejected all this, he could not be ignorant, he could not err in his choice, he contemned all this, he chose that which was safer, better, and more certain, and less to be repented, a mean estate, even poverty itself; and why dost thou then doubt to follow him, to imitate him, and his apostles, to imitate all good men: so do thou tread in his divine steps, and thou shalt not err eternally, as too many worldlings do, that run on in their own dissolute courses, to their confusion and ruin, thou shalt not do amiss. Whatsoever thy fortune is, be contented with it, trust in him, rely on him, refer thyself wholly to him. For know this, in conclusion, Non est volentis nec currentis, sed miserentis Dei, 'tis not as men, but as God will. "The Lord maketh poor and maketh rich, bringeth low, and exalteth" (1 Sam. ii. ver. 7. 8), "he lifteth the poor from the dust, and raiseth the beggar from the dunghill, to set them amongst princes, and make them inherit the seat of glory;" 'tis all as he pleaseth, how, and when, and whom; he that appoints the end (though to us unknown) appoints the means likewise subordinate to the end.
Yea, but their present estate crucifies and torments most mortal men, they have no such forecast, to see what may be, what shall likely be, but what is, though not wherefore, or from whom, hoc anget, their present misfortunes grind their souls, and an envious eye which they cast upon other men's prosperities, Vicinumque pecus grandius uber habet, how rich, how fortunate, how happy is he? But in the meantime he doth not consider the other miseries, his infirmities of body and mind, that accompany his estate, but still reflects upon his own false conceived woes and wants, whereas if the matter were duly examined, he is in no distress at all, he hath no cause to complain.
Pauper enim non est cui rerum suppetit usus,"
"Then cease complaining, friend, and learn to live.
He is not poor to whom kind fortune grants,
Even with a frugal hand, what Nature wants."
he is not poor, he is not in need. "Nature is content with bread and water; and he that can rest satisfied with that, may contend with Jupiter himself for happiness." In that golden age, somnos dedit umbra salubres, potum quoque lubricus amnis, the tree gave wholesome shade to sleep under, and the clear rivers drink. The Israelites drank water in the wilderness; Samson, David, Saul, Abraham's servant when he went for Isaac's wife, the Samaritan woman, and how many besides might I reckon up, Egypt, Palestine, whole countries in the Indies, that drank pure water all their lives. The Persian kings themselves drank no other drink than the water of Chaospis, that runs by Susa, which was carried in bottles after them, whithersoever they went. Jacob desired no more of God, but bread to eat, and clothes to put on in his journey, Gen. xxviii. 20. Bene est cui deus obtulit Parca quod satis est manu; bread is enough "to strengthen the heart." And if you study philosophy aright, saith Maudarensis, "whatsoever is beyond this moderation, is not useful, but troublesome." Agellius, out of Euripides, accounts bread and water enough to satisfy nature, "of which there is no surfeit, the rest is not a feast, but a riot." S. Hierome esteems him rich "that hath bread to eat, and a potent man that is not compelled to be a slave; hunger is not ambitious, so that it have to eat, and thirst doth not prefer a cup of gold." It was no epicurean speech of an epicure, he that is not satisfied with a little will never have enough: and very good counsel of him in the poet, "O my son, mediocrity of means agrees best with men; too much is pernicious."
"Divitiæ grandes homini sunt vivere parce,
And if thou canst be content, thou hast abundance, nihil est, nihil deest, thou hast little, thou wantest nothing. 'Tis all one to be hanged in a chain of gold, or in a rope; to be filled with dainties or coarser meat.
"Si ventri bene, si lateri, pedibusque tuis, nil
Divitiæ poterunt regales addere majus."
"If belly, sides and feet be well at ease,
A prince's treasure can thee no more please."
Socrates in a fair, seeing so many things bought and sold, such a multitude of people convented to that purpose, exclaimed forthwith, "O ye gods! what a sight of things do not I want?" 'Tis thy want alone that keeps thee in health of body and mind, and that which thou persecutest and abhorrest as a feral plague is thy physician and chiefest friend, which makes thee a good man, a healthful, a sound, a virtuous, an honest and happy man. For when virtue came from heaven (as the poet feigns) rich men kicked her up, wicked men abhorred her, courtiers scoffed at her, citizens hated her, and that she was thrust out of doors in every place, she came at last to her sister Poverty, where she had found good entertainment. Poverty and Virtue dwell together.
------"O vitæ tuta facultas
Pauperis, angustique lares, o munera nondum
(Lucan. "O protecting quality of a poor man's life, frugal means, gifts scarce yet understood by the gods themselves.")
How happy art thou if thou couldst be content. "Godliness is a great gain, if a man can be content with that which he hath," 1 Tim. vi. 6. And all true happiness is in a mean estate. I have a little wealth, as he said, sed quas animus magnas facit, a kingdom in conceit;
------"nil amplius opto
Maia nate, nisi ut propria hæc mihi munera faxis;"
I have enough and desire no more.
"Dii bene fecerunt inopis me quodque pusilli
'tis very well, and to my content. Vestem et fortunam concinnam potius quam laxam probo, let my fortune and my garments be both alike fit for me. And which Sebastian Foscarinus, sometime Duke of Venice, caused to be engraven on his tomb in St. Mark's Church, "Hear, O ye Venetians, and I will tell you which is the best thing in the world: to contemn it." I will engrave it in my heart, it shall be my whole study to contemn it. Let them take wealth, Stercora stercus amet so that I may have security: bene qui latuit, bene vixit; though I live obscure, yet I live clean and honest; and when as the lofty oak is blown down, the silky reed may stand. Let them take glory, for that's their misery; let them take honour, so that I may have heart's ease. Duc me O Jupiter et tu fatum, &c. Lead me, O God, whither thou wilt, I am ready to follow; command, I will obey. I do not envy at their wealth, titles, offices;
"Stet quicunque volet potens
Aulæ culmine lubrico,
Me dulcis saturet quies."
("Let whosoever covets it, occupy the highest pinnacle of fame, sweet tranquillity shall satisfy me.")
let me live quiet and at ease. Erimus fortasse (as he comforted himself) quando illi non erunt, when they are dead and gone, and all their pomp vanished, our memory may flourish:
Stemmata non peritura Musæ."
(Marullus. "The immortal Muses confer imperishable pride of origin.")
Let him be my lord, patron, baron, earl, and possess so many goodly castles, 'tis well for me that I have a poor house, and a little wood, and a well by it, &c.
"His me consolor victurum suavius, ac si
Quæstor avus pater atque meus, patruusque fuissent."
"With which I feel myself more truly blest
Than if my sires the quæstor's power possess'd."
I live, I thank God, as merrily as he, and triumph as much in this my mean estate, as if my father and uncle had been lord treasurer, or my lord mayor. He feeds of many dishes, I of one: qui Christum curat, non multum curat quam de preciosis cibis stercus conficiat, what care I of what stuff my excrements be made? "He that lives according to nature cannot be poor, and he that exceeds can never have enough," totus non sufficit orbis, the whole world cannot give him content. "A small thing that the righteous hath, is better than the riches of the ungodly," Psal. xxxvii. 19; "and better is a poor morsel with quietness, than abundance with strife," Prov. xvii. 7. Be content then, enjoy thyself, and as Chrysostom adviseth, "be not angry for what thou hast not, but give God hearty thanks for what thou hast received."
"Si dat oluscula
Ne pete grandia,
("If your table afford frugal fare with peace, seek not, in strife, to load it lavishly.")
But what wantest thou, to expostulate the matter? or what hast thou not better than a rich man? "health, competent wealth, children, security, sleep, friends, liberty, diet, apparel, and what not," or at least mayst have (the means being so obvious, easy, and well known) for as he inculcated to himself,
"Vitam quæ faciunt beatiorem,
Jucundissime Martialis, hæc sunt;
Res non parta labore, sed relicta,
Lis nunquam," &c.
I say again thou hast, or at least mayst have it, if thou wilt thyself, and that which I am sure he wants, a merry heart. "Passing by a village in the territory of Milan," saith St. Austin, "I saw a poor beggar that had got belike his bellyful of meat, jesting and merry; I sighed, and said to some of my friends that were then with me, what a deal of trouble, madness, pain and grief do we sustain and exaggerate unto ourselves, to get that secure happiness which this poor beggar hath prevented us of, and which we peradventure shall never have? For that which he hath now attained with the begging of some small pieces of silver, a temporal happiness, and present heart's ease, I cannot compass with all my careful windings, and running in and out," "And surely the beggar was very merry, but I was heavy; he was secure, but I timorous. And if any man should ask me now, whether I had rather be merry, or still so solicitous and sad, I should say, merry. If he should ask me again, whether I had rather be as I am, or as this beggar was, I should sure choose to be as I am, tortured still with cares and fears; but out of peevishness, and not out of truth." That which St. Austin said of himself here in this place, I may truly say to thee, thou discontented wretch, thou covetous niggard, thou churl, thou ambitious and swelling toad, 'tis not want but peevishness which is the cause of thy woes; settle thine affection, thou hast enough.
"Denique sit finis quaerendi, quoque habeas plus,
Pauperiem metuas minus, et finire laborem
Incipias; parto, quod avebas, utere."
Make an end of scraping, purchasing this manor, this field, that house, for this and that child; thou hast enough for thyself and them:
------"Quod petis hic est,
Est Ulubris, animus si te non deficit æquus."
'Tis at hand, at home already, which thou so earnestly seekest. But
------"O si angulus ille
Proximus accedat, qui nunc denormat agellum,"
O that I had but that one nook of ground, that field there, that pasture, O si venam argenti fors quis mihi monstret -- O that I could but find a pot of money now, to purchase, &c., to build me a new house, to marry my daughter, place my son, &c. "O if I might but live a while longer to see all things settled, some two or three years, I would pay my debts," make all my reckonings even: but they are come and past, and thou hast more business than before. "O madness, to think to settle that in thine old age when thou hast more, which in thy youth thou canst not now compose having but a little." Pyrrhus would first conquer Africa, and then Asia, et tum suaviter agere, and then live merrily and take his ease: but when Cyneas the orator told him he might do that already, id jam posse fieri, rested satisfied, condemning his own folly. Si parva licet componere magnis, thou mayst do the like, and therefore be composed in thy fortune. Thou hast enough: he that is wet in a bath, can be no more wet if he be flung into Tiber, or into the ocean itself: and if thou hadst all the world, or a solid mass of gold as big as the world, thou canst not have more than enough; enjoy thyself at length, and that which thou hast; the mind is all; be content, thou art not poor, but rich, and so much the richer as Censorinus well writ to Cerellius, quanto pauciora optas, non quo plura possides, in wishing less, not having more. I say then, Non adjice opes, sed minue cupiditates ('tis Epicurus' advice), add no more wealth, but diminish thy desires; and as Chrysostom well seconds him, Si vis ditari, contemne divitias; that's true plenty, not to have, but not to want riches, non habere, sed non indigere, vera abundantia: 'tis more glory to contemn, than to possess; et nihil agere, est deorum, "and to want nothing is divine." How many deaf, dumb, halt, lame, blind, miserable persons could I reckon up that are poor, and withal distressed, in imprisonment, banishment, galley slaves, condemned to the mines, quarries, to gyves, in dungeons, perpetual thraldom, than all which thou art richer, thou art more happy, to whom thou art able to give an alms, a lord, in respect, a petty prince: be contented then I say, repine and mutter no more, "for thou art not poor indeed but in opinion."
Yea, but this is very good counsel, and rightly applied to such as have it, and will not use it, that have a competency, that are able to work and get their living by the sweat of their brows, by their trade, that have something yet; he that hath birds, may catch birds; but what shall we do that are slaves by nature, impotent, and unable to help ourselves, mere beggars, that languish and pine away, that have no means at all, no hope of means, no trust of delivery, or of better success? as those old Britons complained to their lords and masters the Romans oppressed by the Picts. mare ad barbaros, barbari ad mare, the barbarians drove them to the sea, the sea drove them back to the barbarians: our present misery compels us to cry out and howl, to make our moan to rich men: they turn us back with a scornful answer to our misfortune again, and will take no pity of us; they commonly overlook their poor friends in adversity; if they chance to meet them, they voluntarily forget and will take no notice of them; they will not, they cannot help us. Instead of comfort they threaten us, miscall, scoff at us, to aggravate our misery, give us bad language, or if they do give good words, what's that to relieve us? According to that of Thales, Facile est alios monere; who cannot give good counsel? 'tis cheap, it costs them nothing. It is an easy matter when one's belly is full to declaim against fasting, Qui satur est pleno laudat jejunia ventre; "Doth the wild ass bray when he hath grass, or loweth the ox when he hath fodder?" Job vi. 5. Neque enim populo Romano quidquam potest esse lætius, no man living so jocund, so merry as the people of Rome when they had plenty; but when they came to want, to be hunger-starved, "neither shame, nor laws, nor arms, nor magistrates could keep them in obedience." Seneca pleadeth hard for poverty, and so did those lazy philosophers: but in the meantime he was rich, they had wherewithal to maintain themselves; but doth any poor man extol it? "There are those" (saith Bernard) "that approve of a mean estate, but on that condition they never want themselves: and some again are meek so long as they may say or do what they list; but if occasion be offered, how far are they from all patience?" I would to God (as he said) "No man should commend poverty, but he that is poor," or he that so much admires it, would relieve, help, or ease others.
"Nunc si nos audis, atque es divinus Apollo,
Dic mihi, qui nummos non habet, unde petat:"
"Now if thou hear'st us, and art a good man,
Tell him that wants, to get means, if you can."
But no man hears us, we are most miserably dejected, the scum of the world. Vix habet in nobis jam nova plaga locum. (Ovid. "There is no space left on our bodies for a fresh stripe.") We can get no relief, no comfort, no succour, Et nihil inveni quod mihi ferret opem. We have tried all means, yet find no remedy: no man living can express the anguish and bitterness of our souls, but we that endure it; we are distressed, forsaken, in torture of body and mind, in another hell: and what shall we do? When Crassus the Roman consul warred against the Parthians, after an unlucky battle fought, he fled away in the night, and left four thousand men, sore, sick, and wounded in his tents, to the fury of the enemy, which, when the poor men perceived, clamoribus et ululatibus omnia complerunt, they made lamentable moan, and roared downright, as loud as Homer's Mars when he was hurt, which the noise of 10,000 men could not drown, and all for fear of present death. But our estate is far more tragical and miserable, much more to be deplored, and far greater cause have we to lament; the devil and the world persecute us, all good fortune hath forsaken us, we are left to the rage of beggary, cold, hunger, thirst, nastiness, sickness, irksomeness, to continue all torment, labour and pain, to derision and contempt, bitter enemies all, and far worse than any death; death alone we desire, death we seek, yet cannot have it, and what shall we do? Quod male fers, assuesce; feres bene -- accustom thyself to it, and it will be tolerable at last. Yea, but I may not, I cannot, In me consumpsit vires fortuna nocendo, I am in the extremity of human adversity; and as a shadow leaves the body when the sun is gone, I am now left and lost, and quite forsaken of the world. Qui jacet in terra, non habet unde cadat; comfort thyself with this yet, thou art at the worst, and before it be long it will either overcome thee or thou it. If it be violent, it cannot endure, aut solvetur, aut solvet: let the devil himself and all the plagues of Egypt come upon thee at once, Ne tu cede malis, sed contra audentior ito, be of good courage; misery is virtue's whetstone.
"--serpens, sitis, ardor, arenæ,
as Cato told his soldiers marching in the deserts of Libya, "Thirst, heat, sands, serpents, were pleasant to a valiant man;" honourable enterprises are accompanied with dangers and damages, as experience evinceth: they will make the rest of thy life relish the better. But put case they continue; thou art not so poor as thou wast born, and as some hold, much better to be pitied than envied. But be it so thou hast lost all, poor thou art, dejected, in pain of body, grief of mind, thine enemies insult over thee, thou art as bad as Job; yet tell me (saith Chrysostom) "was Job or the devil the greater conqueror? surely Job; the devil had his goods, he sat on the muck-hill and kept his good name; he lost his children, health, friends, but he kept his innocency; he lost his money, but he kept his confidence in God, which was better than any treasure." Do thou then as Job did, triumph as Job did, and be not molested as every fool is. Sed qua ratione potero? How shall this be done? Chrysostom answers, facile si c?lum cogitaveris, with great facility, if thou shalt but meditate on heaven. Hannah wept sore, and troubled in mind, could not eat; "but why weepest thou," said Elkanah her husband, "and why eatest thou not? why is thine heart troubled? am not I better to thee than ten sons?" and she was quiet. Thou art here vexed in this world; but say to thyself, "Why art thou troubled, O my soul?" Is not God better to thee than all temporalities, and momentary pleasures of the world? be then pacified. And though thou beest now peradventure in extreme want, it may be 'tis for thy further good, to try thy patience, as it did Job's, and exercise thee in this life: trust in God, and rely upon him, and thou shalt be crowned in the end. What's this life to eternity? The world hath forsaken thee, thy friends and fortunes all are gone: yet know this, that the very hairs of thine head are numbered, that God is a spectator of all thy miseries, he sees thy wrongs, woes, and wants. "'Tis his goodwill and pleasure it should be so, and he knows better what is for thy good than thou thyself. His providence is over all, at all times; he hath set a guard of angels over us, and keeps us as the apple of his eye," Ps. xvii. 8. Some he doth exalt, prefer, bless with worldly riches, honours, offices, and preferments, as so many glistering stars he makes to shine above the rest: some he doth miraculously protect from thieves, incursions, sword, fire, and all violent mischances, and as the poet feigns of that Lycian Pandarus, Lycaon's son, when he shot at Menelaus the Grecian with a strong arm, and deadly arrow, Pallas, as a good mother keeps flies from her child's face asleep, turned by the shaft, and made it hit on the buckle of his girdle; so some he solicitously defends, others he exposeth to danger, poverty, sickness, want, misery, he chastiseth and corrects, as to him seems best, in his deep, unsearchable and secret judgment, and all for our good. "The tyrant took the city" (saith Chrysostom), "God did not hinder it; led them away captives, so God would have it; he bound them, God yielded to it: flung them into the furnace, God permitted it: heat the oven hotter, it was granted: and when the tyrant had done his worst, God showed his power, and the children's patience; he freed them:" so can he thee, and can help in an instant, when it seems to him good. "Rejoice not against me, O my enemy; for though I fall, I shall rise: when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall lighten me." Remember all those martyrs what they have endured, the utmost that human rage and fury could invent, with what patience they have borne, with what willingness embraced it. "Though he kill me," saith Job, "I will trust in him." Justus inexpugnabilis, as Chrysostom holds, a just man is impregnable, and not to be overcome. The gout may hurt his hands, lameness his feet, convulsions may torture his joints, but not rectam mentem his soul is free.
------"nempe pecus, rem,
Lectos, argentum tollas licet; in manicis, et
Compedibus sævo teneas custode"------
"Perhaps, you mean,
My cattle, money, movables or land,
Then take them all.--But, slave, if I command,
A cruel jailor shall thy freedom seize."
"Take away his money, his treasure is in heaven: banish him his country, he is an inhabitant of that heavenly Jerusalem: cast him into bands, his conscience is free; kill his body, it shall rise again; he fights with a shadow that contends with an upright man:" he will not be moved.
------"si fractus illabatur orbis,
Impavidum ferient ruinæ."
Though heaven itself should fall on his head, he will not be offended. He is impenetrable, as an anvil hard, as constant as Job.
"Ipse deus simul atque volet me solvet opinor."
"A God shall set me free whene'er I please."
Be thou such a one; let thy misery be what it will, what it can, with patience endure it; thou mayst be restored as he was. Terris proscriptus, ad c?lum propera; ab hominibus desertus, ad deum fuge. "The poor shall not always be forgotten, the patient abiding of the meek shall not perish for ever," Psal. x. 18. ver. 9. "The Lord will be a refuge of the oppressed, and a defence in the time of trouble."
"Servus Epictetus, multilati corporis, Irus
Pauper: at hæc inter charus erat superis."
"Lame was Epictetus, and poor Irus,
Yet to them both God was propitious."
Lodovicus Vertomannus, that famous traveller, endured much misery, yet surely, saith Scaliger, he was vir deo carus, in that he did escape so many dangers, "God especially protected him, he was dear unto him:" Modo in egestate, tribulatione, convalle deplorationis, &c. "Thou art now in the vale of misery, in poverty, in agony," "in temptation; rest, eternity, happiness, immortality, shall be thy reward," as Chrysostom pleads, "if thou trust in God, and keep thine innocency." Non si male nunc, et olim sic erit semper; a good hour may come upon a sudden; expect a little.
Yea, but this expectation is it which tortures me in the mean time; futura expectans præsentibus angor, whilst the grass grows the horse starves: despair not, but hope well,
"Spera Batte, tibi melius lux Crastina ducet;
Dum spiras spera"------
(Theocritus. "Hope on, Battus, tomorrow may bring better luck; while there's life there's hope.")
Cheer up, I say, be not dismayed; Spes alit agricolas: "he that sows in tears, shall reap in joy," Psal. cxxvi. 7.
"Si fortune me tormente,
Esperance me contente."
Hope refresheth, as much as misery depresseth; hard beginnings have many times prosperous events, and that may happen at last which never was yet. "A desire accomplished delights the soul," Prov. xiii. 19.
"Grata superveniet quæ non sperabitur hora:"
"Which makes m'enjoy my joys long wish'd at last,
Welcome that hour shall come when hope is past:"
a lowering morning may turn to a fair afternoon, Nube solet pulsa candidus ire dies. "The hope that is deferred, is the fainting of the heart, but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life," Prov. xiii. 12, suavissimum est voti compos fieri. Many men are both wretched and miserable at first, but afterwards most happy: and oftentimes it so falls out, as Machiavel relates of Cosmo de Medici, that fortunate and renowned citizen of Europe, "that all his youth was full of perplexity, danger, and misery, till forty years were past, and then upon a sudden the sun of his honour broke out as through a cloud." Huniades was fetched out of prison, and Henry the Third of Portugal out of a poor monastery, to be crowned kings.
"Multa cadunt inter calicem supremaque labra,"
"Many things happen between the cup and the lip,"
beyond all hope and expectation many things fall out, and who knows what may happen? Nondum omnium dierum Soles occiderunt, as Philippus said, all the suns are not yet set, a day may come to make amends for all. "Though my father and mother forsake me, yet the Lord will gather me up," Psal. xxvii. 10. "Wait patiently on the Lord, and hope in him," Psal. xxxvii. 7. "Be strong, hope and trust in the Lord, and he will comfort thee, and give thee thine heart's desire," Psal. xxvii. 14.
"Sperate et vosmet rebus servate secundis."
"Hope, and reserve yourself for prosperity."
Fret not thyself because thou art poor, contemned, or not so well for the present as thou wouldst be, not respected as thou oughtest to be, by birth, place, worth; or that which is a double corrosive, thou hast been happy, honourable, and rich, art now distressed and poor, a scorn of men, a burden to the world, irksome to thyself and others, thou hast lost all: Miserum est fuisse, felicem, and as Boethius calls it, Infelicissimum genus infortunii; this made Timon half mad with melancholy, to think of his former fortunes and present misfortunes: this alone makes many miserable wretches discontent. I confess it is a great misery to have been happy, the quintessence of infelicity, to have been honourable and rich, but yet easily to be endured: security succeeds, and to a judicious man a far better estate. The loss of thy goods and money is no loss; "thou hast lost them, they would otherwise have lost thee." If thy money be gone, "thou art so much the lighter," and as Saint Hierome persuades Rusticus the monk, to forsake all and follow Christ: "Gold and silver are too heavy metals for him to carry that seeks heaven."
"Vel nos in mare proximum,
Gemmas et lapides, aurum et inutile,
Summi materiam mali
Mittamus, scelerum si hene p?nitet."
(Hor. "Let us cast our jewels and gems, and useless gold, the cause of all vice, into the sea, since we truly repent of our sins.")
Zeno the philosopher lost all his goods by shipwreck, he might like of it, fortune had done him a good turn: Opes a me, animum auferre non potest: she can take away my means, but not my mind. He set her at defiance ever after, for she could not rob him that had nought to lose: for he was able to contemn more than they could possess or desire. Alexander sent a hundred talents of gold to Phocion of Athens for a present, because he heard he was a good man: but Phocion returned his talents back again with a permitte me in posterum virum bonum esse to be a good man still; let me be as I am: Non mi aurum posco, nec mi precium ("I do not desire riches, nor that a price should be set upon me.") -- That Theban Crates flung of his own accord his money into the sea, abite nummi, ego vos mergam, ne mergar, a vobis, I had rather drown you, than you should drown me. Can stoics and epicures thus contemn wealth, and shall not we that are Christians? It was mascula vox et præclara, a generous speech of Cotta in Sallust, "Many miseries have happened unto me at home, and in the wars abroad, of which by the help of God some I have endured, some I have repelled, and by mine own valour overcome: courage was never wanting to my designs, nor industry to my intents: prosperity or adversity could never alter my disposition." A wise man's mind, as Seneca holds, "is like the state of the world above the moon, ever serene." Come then what can come, befall what may befall, infractum invictumque animum opponas: Rebus angustis animosus atque fortis appare. (Hor. Od. 11. lib. 2.) Hope and patience are two sovereign remedies for all, the surest reposals, the softest cushions to lean on in adversity:
"Durum sed levius fit patientia,
Quicquid corrigere est nefas."
"What can't be cured must be endured."
If it cannot be helped, or amended, make the best of it; necessitati qui se accommodat, sapit, he is wise that suits himself to the time. As at a game at tables, so do by all such inevitable accidents.
"Ita vita est hominum quasi cum ludas tesseris,
Si illud quod est maxime opus jactu non cadit,
Illud quod cecidit forte, id arte ut corrigas;"
If thou canst not fling what thou wouldst, play thy cast as well as thou canst. Everything, saith Epictetus, hath two handles, the one to be held by, the other not: 'tis in our choice to take and leave whether we will (all which Simplicius's Commentator hath illustrated by many examples), and 'tis in our power, as they say, to make or mar ourselves. Conform thyself then to thy present fortune, and cut thy coat according to thy cloth, Ut quimus (quod aiunt) quando quod volumus non licet, "Be contented with thy loss, state, and calling, whatsoever it is, and rest as well satisfied with thy present condition in this life:"
"Este quod es; quod sunt alii, sine quamlibet esse;
Quod non es, nolis; quod potus esse, velis."
"Be as thou art; and as they are, so let
Others be still; what is and may be covert."
And as he that is invited to a feast eats what is set before him, and looks for no other, enjoy that thou hast, and ask no more of God than what he thinks fit to bestow upon thee. Non cuivis contingit adire Corinthum, we may not be all gentlemen, all Catos, or Laelii, as Tully telleth us, all honourable, illustrious, and serene, all rich; but because mortal men want many things, "therefore," saith Theodoret, "hath God diversely distributed his gifts, wealth to one, skill to another, that rich men might encourage and set poor men at work, poor men might learn several trades to the common good." As a piece of arras is composed of several parcels, some wrought of silk, some of gold, silver, crewel of diverse colours, all to serve for the exornation of the whole: music is made of diverse discords and keys, a total sum of many small numbers, so is a commonwealth of several unequal trades and callings. If all should be Croesi and Darii, all idle, all in fortunes equal, who should till the land? As Menenius Agrippa well satisfied the tumultuous rout of Rome, in his elegant apologue of the belly and the rest of the members. Who should build houses, make our several stuffs for raiments? We should all be starved for company, as Poverty declared at large in Aristophanes' Plutus, and sue at last to be as we were at first. And therefore God hath appointed this inequality of states, orders, and degrees, a subordination, as in all other things. The earth yields nourishment to vegetables, sensible creatures feed on vegetables, both are substitutes to reasonable souls, and men are subject amongst themselves, and all to higher powers, so God would have it. All things then being rightly examined and duly considered as they ought, there is no such cause of so general discontent, 'tis not in the matter itself, but in our mind, as we moderate our passions and esteem of things. Nihil aliud necessarium ut sis miser (saith Cardan) quam ut te miserum credas, let thy fortune be what it will, 'tis thy mind alone that makes thee poor or rich, miserable or happy. Vidi ego (saith divine Seneca) in villa hilari et amæna mæstos, et media solitudine occupatos; non locus, sed animus facit ad tranquillitatem. I have seen men miserably dejected in a pleasant village, and some again well occupied and at good ease in a solitary desert. 'Tis the mind not the place causeth tranquillity, and that gives true content. I will yet add a word or two for a corollary. Many rich men, I dare boldly say it, that lie on down beds, with delicacies pampered every day, in their well-furnished houses, live at less heart's ease, with more anguish, more bodily pain, and through their intemperance, more bitter hours, than many a prisoner or galley-slave; Mæcenas in pluma æque vigilat ac Regulus in dolio: those poor starved Hollanders, whom Bartison their captain left in Nova Zembla, anno 1596, or those eight miserable Englishmen that were lately left behind, to winter in a stove in Greenland, in 77 deg. of lat., 1630, so pitifully forsaken, and forced to shift for themselves in a vast, dark, and desert place, to strive and struggle with hunger, cold, desperation, and death itself. 'Tis a patient and quiet mind (I say it again and again) gives true peace and content. So for all other things, they are, as old Chremes told us, as we use them.
"Parentes, patriam, amicos, genus, cognates, divitias,
Hæc perinde sunt ac illius animus qui ea possidet;
Qui uti scit, ei bona; qui utitur non recte, mala."
"Parents, friends, fortunes, country, birth, alliance, &c., ebb and flow with our conceit; please or displease, as we accept and construe them, or apply them to ourselves." Faber quisque fortunæ suæ, and in some sort I may truly say, prosperity and adversity are in our own hands. Nemo læditur nisi a seipso, and which Seneca confirms out of his judgment and experience. "Every man's mind is stronger than fortune, and leads him to what side he will; a cause to himself each one is of his good or bad life." But will we, or nill we, make the worst of it, and suppose a man in the greatest extremity, 'tis a fortune which some indefinitely prefer before prosperity; of two extremes it is the best. Luxuriant animi rebus plerumque secundis, men in prosperity forget God and themselves, they are besotted with their wealth, as birds with henbane: miserable if fortune forsake them, but more miserable if she tarry and overwhelm them: for when they come to be in great place, rich, they that were most temperate, sober, and discreet in their private fortunes, as Nero, Otho, Vitellius, Heliogabalus (optimi imperatores nisi imperassent) degenerate on a sudden into brute beasts, so prodigious in lust, such tyrannical oppressors, &c., they cannot moderate themselves, they become monsters, odious, harpies, what not? Cum triumphos, opes, honores adepti sunt, ad voluptatem et otium deinceps se convertunt: 'twas Cato's note, "they cannot contain." For that cause belike
"Eutrapilus cuicunque nocere volebat,
Vestimenta dabat pretiosa: beatus enim jam,
Cum pulchris tunicis sumet nova consilia et spes,
Dormiet in lucem scorto, postponet honestum Officium"------
"Eutrapilus when he would hurt a knave,
Gave him gay clothes and wealth to make him brave:
Because now rich he would quite change his mind,
Keep whores, fly out, set honesty behind."
On the other side, in adversity many mutter and repine, despair, &c., both bad, I confess,
------"ut calceus olim
Si pede major erit, subvertet: si minor, uret."
"As a shoe too big or too little, one pincheth, the other sets the foot awry," sed e malis minimum. If adversity hath killed his thousand, prosperity hath killed his ten thousand: therefore adversity is to be preferred; hæc fr?no indiget, illa solatio: illa fallit, hæc instruit: the one deceives, the other instructs; the one miserably happy, the other happily miserable; and therefore many philosophers have voluntarily sought adversity, and so much commend it in their precepts. Demetrius, in Seneca, esteemed it a great infelicity, that in his lifetime he had no misfortune, miserum cui nihil unquam accidisset, adversi. Adversity then is not so heavily to be taken, and we ought not in such cases so much to macerate ourselves: there is no such odds in poverty and riches. To conclude in Hierom's words, "I will ask our magnificoes that build with marble, and bestow a whole manor on a thread, what difference between them and Paul the Eremite, that bare old man? They drink in jewels, he in his hand: he is poor and goes to heaven, they are rich and go to hell."