Honest Objects of Love

Honest Objects of Love

Beauty is the common object of all love, "as jet draws a straw, so doth beauty love:" virtue and honesty are great motives, and give as fair a lustre as the rest, especially if they be sincere and right, not fucate, but proceeding from true form, and an incorrupt judgment; those two Venus' twins, Eros and Anteros, are then most firm and fast. For many times otherwise men are deceived by their flattering gnathos, dissembling camelions, outsides, hypocrites that make a show of great love, learning, pretend honesty, virtue, zeal, modesty, with affected looks and counterfeit gestures: feigned protestations often steal away the hearts and favours of men, and deceive them, specie virtutis et umbra, when as revera and indeed, there is no worth or honesty at all in them, no truth, but mere hypocrisy, subtlety, knavery, and the like. As true friends they are, as he that Cúlius Secundus met by the highway side; and hard it is in this temporising age to distinguish such companions, or to find them out. Such gnathos as these for the most part belong to great men, and by this glozing flattery, affability, and such like philters, so dive and insinuate into their favours, that they are taken for men of excellent worth, wisdom, learning, demigods, and so screw themselves into dignities, honours, offices; but these men cause harsh confusion often, and as many times stirs as Rehoboam's counsellors in a commonwealth, overthrew themselves and others. Tandlerus and some authors make a doubt, whether love and hatred may be compelled by philters or characters; Cardan and Marbodius, by precious stones and amulets; astrologers by election of times, &c. as I shall elsewhere discuss. The true object of this honest love is virtue, wisdom, honesty, real worth, Interna forma, and this love cannot deceive or be compelled, ut ameris amabilis esto, love itself is the most potent philtrum, virtue and wisdom, gratia gratum faciens, the sole and only grace, not counterfeit, but open, honest, simple, naked, "descending from heaven," as our apostle hath it, an infused habit from God, which hath given several gifts, as wit, learning, tongues, for which they shall be amiable and gracious, Eph. iv. 11. as to Saul stature and a goodly presence, 1 Sam. ix. 1. Joseph found favour in Pharaoh's court, Gen. xxxix, for his person; and Daniel with the princes of the eunuchs, Dan. xix. 19. Christ was gracious with God and men, Luke ii. 52. There is still some peculiar grace, as of good discourse, eloquence, wit, honesty, which is the primum mobile, first mover, and a most forcible loadstone to draw the favours and good wills of men's eyes, ears, and affections unto them. When "Jesus spake, they were all astonished at his answers," (Luke ii. 47.) "and wondered at his gracious words which proceeded from his mouth." An orator steals away the hearts of men, and as another Orpheus, quo vult, unde vult, he pulls them to him by speech alone: a sweet voice causeth admiration; and he that can utter himself in good words, in our ordinary phrase, is called a proper man, a divine spirit. For which cause belike, our old poets, Senatus populusque pútarum, made Mercury the gentleman-usher to the Graces, captain of eloquence, and those charities to be Jupiter's and Eurymone's daughters, descended from above. Though they be otherwise deformed, crooked, ugly to behold, those good parts of the mind denominate them fair. Plato commends the beauty of Socrates; yet who was more grim of countenance, stern and ghastly to look upon? So are and have been many great philosophers, as Gregory Nazianzen observes, "deformed most part in that which is to be seen with the eyes, but most elegant in that which is not to be seen." Sæpe sub attrita latitat sapientia veste. Æsop, Democritus, Aristotle, Politianus, Melancthon, Gesner, &c. withered old men, Sileni Alcibiadis, very harsh and impolite to the eye; but who were so terse, polite, eloquent, generally learned, temperate and modest? No man then living was so fair as Alcibiades, so lovely quo ad superficiem, to the eye, as Boethius observes, but he had Corpus turpissimum interne, a most deformed soul; honesty, virtue, fair conditions, are great enticers to such as are well given, and much avail to get the favour and goodwill of men. Abdolominus in Curtius, a poor man, (but which mine author notes, "the cause of this poverty was his honesty") for his modesty and continency from a private person (for they found him digging in his garden) was saluted king, and preferred before all the magnificoes of his time, injecta ei vestis purpura auroque distincta, "a purple embroidered garment was put upon him, and they bade him wash himself, and, as he was worthy, take upon him the style and spirit of a king," continue his continency and the rest of his good parts. Titus Pomponius Atticus, that noble citizen of Rome, was so fair conditioned, of so sweet a carriage, that he was generally beloved of all good men, of Cæsar, Pompey, Antony, Tully, of divers sects, &c. multas hæreditates ( Cornelius Nepos writes) sola bonitate consequutus. Operæ, pretium audire, &c. It is worthy of your attention, Livy cries, "you that scorn all but riches, and give no esteem to virtue, except they be wealthy withal, Q. Cincinnatus had but four acres, and by the consent of the senate was chosen dictator of Rome." Of such account were Cato, Fabricius, Aristides, Antonius, Probus, for their eminent worth: so Cæsar, Trajan, Alexander, admired for valour, Hæphestion loved Alexander, but Parmenio the king: Titus deliciæ humani generis, and which Aurelius Victor hath of Vespasian, the darling of his time, as Edgar Etheling was in England, for his excellent virtues: their memory is yet fresh, sweet, and we love them many ages after, though they be dead: Suavem memoriam sui reliquit, saith Lipsius of his friend, living and dead they are all one. "I have ever loved as thou knowest" (so Tully wrote to Dolabella) "Marcus Brutus for his great wit, singular honesty, constancy, sweet conditions; and believe it" "there is nothing so amiable and fair as virtue." "I do mightily love Calvisinus," (so Pliny writes to Sossius) "a most industrious, eloquent, upright man, which is all in all with me:" the affection came from his good parts. And as St. Austin comments on the 84th Psalm, "there is a peculiar beauty of justice, and inward beauty, which we see with the eyes of our hearts, love, and are enamoured with, as in martyrs, though their bodies be torn in pieces with wild beasts, yet this beauty shines, and we love their virtues." The stoics are of opinion that a wise man is only fair; and Cato in Tully 3 de Finibus contends the same, that the lineaments of the mind are far fairer than those of the body, incomparably beyond them: wisdom and valour according to Xenophon, especially deserve the name of beauty, and denominate one fair, et incomparabiliter pulchrior est (as Austin holds) veritas Christianorum quam Helena Græcorum. "Wine is strong, the king is strong, women are strong, but truth overcometh all things," Esd. i. 3, 10, 11, 12. "Blessed is the man that findeth wisdom, and getteth understanding, for the merchandise thereof is better than silver, and the gain thereof better than gold: it is more precious than pearls, and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared to her," Prov. ii. 13, 14, 15, a wise, true, just, upright, and good man, I say it again, is only fair: it is reported of Magdalene Queen of France, and wife to Lewis 11th, a Scottish woman by birth, that walking forth in an evening with her ladies, she spied M. Alanus, one of the king's chaplains, a silly, old, hard-favoured man fast asleep in a bower, and kissed him sweetly; when the young ladies laughed at her for it, she replied, that it was not his person that she did embrace and reverence, but, with a platonic love, the divine beauty of his soul. Thus in all ages virtue hath been adored, admired, a singular lustre hath proceeded from it: and the more virtuous he is, the more gracious, the more admired. No man so much followed upon earth as Christ himself: and as the Psalmist saith, xlv. 2, "He was fairer than the sons of men." Chrysostom Hom. 8 in Mat. Bernard Ser. 1. de omnibus sanctis; Austin, Cassiodore, Hier. in 9 Mat. interpret it of the beauty of his person; there was a divine majesty in his looks, it shined like lightning and drew all men to it: but Basil, Cyril, lib. 6. super. 55. Esay. Theodoret, Arnobius, &c. of the beauty of his divinity, justice, grace, eloquence, &c. Thomas in Psal. xliv. of both; and so doth Baradius and Peter Morales, lib de pulchritud. Jesu et Mariæ, adding as much of Joseph and the Virgin Mary,-- hæc alias forma præcesserit omnes, ("She excelled all others in beauty.") according to that prediction of Sibylla Cumea. Be they present or absent, near us, or afar off, this beauty shines, and will attract men many miles to come and visit it. Plato and Pythagoras left their country, to see those wise Egyptian priests: Apollonius travelled into Ethiopia, Persia, to consult with the Magi, Brachmanni, gymnosophists. The Queen of Sheba came to visit Solomon; and "many," saith Hierom, "went out of Spain and remote places a thousand miles, to behold that eloquent Livy:" Multi Romam non ut urbem pulcherrimam, aut urbis et orbis dominum Octavianum, sed ut hunc unum inviserent audirentque, a Gadibus profecti sunt. No beauty leaves such an impression, strikes so deep , or links the souls of men closer than virtue.

"Non per deos aut pictor posset,
Aut statuarius ullus fingere
Talem pulchritudinem qualem virtus habet;"

"no painter, no graver, no carver can express virtue's lustre, or those admirable rays that come from it, those enchanting rays that enamour posterity, those everlasting rays that continue to the world's end." Many, saith Phavorinus, that loved and admired Alcibiades in his youth, knew not, cared not for Alcibiades a man, nunc intuentes quærebant Alcibiadem; but the beauty of Socrates is still the same; virtue's lustre never fades, is ever fresh and green, semper viva to all succeeding ages, and a most attractive loadstone, to draw and combine such as are present. For that reason belike, Homer feigns the three Graces to be linked and tied hand in hand, because the hearts of men are so firmly united with such graces. "O sweet bands (Seneca exclaims) , which so happily combine, that those which are bound by them love their binders, desiring withal much more harder to be bound," and as so many Geryons to be united into one. For the nature of true friendship is to combine, to be like affected, of one mind,

"Velle et nolle ambobus idem, satiataque toto
Mens ævo" --

as the poet saith, still to continue one and the same. And where this love takes place there is peace and quietness, a true correspondence, perfect amity, a diapason of vows and wishes, the same opinions, as between David and Jonathan, Damon and Pythias, Pylades and Orestes, Nysus and Euryalus, Theseus and Pirithous, they will live and die together, and prosecute one another with good turns. Nam vinci in amore turpissimum putant, not only living, but when their friends are dead, with tombs and monuments, nenias, epitaphs elegies, inscriptions, pyramids, obelisks, statues, images, pictures, histories, poems, annals, feasts, anniversaries, many ages after (as Plato's scholars did) they will parentare still, omit no good office that may tend to the preservation of their names, honours, and eternal memory. Illum coloribus, illum cera, illum ære, &c. "He did express his friends in colours, in wax, in brass, in ivory, marble, gold, and silver" (as Pliny reports of a citizen in Rome) , "and in a great auditory not long since recited a just volume of his life." In another place, speaking of an epigram which Martial had composed in praise of him, "He gave me as much as he might, and would have done more if he could: though what can a man give more than honour, glory, and eternity?" But that which he wrote peradventure will not continue, yet he wrote it to continue. 'Tis all the recompense a poor scholar can make his well-deserving patron, Mecænas, friend, to mention him in his works, to dedicate a book to his name, to write his life, &c., as all our poets, orators, historiographers have ever done, and the greatest revenge such men take of their adversaries, to persecute them with satires, invectives, &c., and 'tis both ways of great moment, as Plato gives us to understand. Paulus Jovius, in the fourth book of the life and deeds of Pope Leo Decimus, his noble patron, concludes in these words, "Because I cannot honour him as other rich men do, with like endeavour, affection, and piety, I have undertaken to write his life; since my fortunes will not give me leave to make a more sumptuous monument, I will perform those rites to his sacred ashes, which a small, perhaps, but a liberal wit can afford." But I rove. Where this true love is wanting, there can be no firm peace, friendship from teeth outward, counterfeit, or for some by-respects, so long dissembled, till they have satisfied their own ends, which, upon every small occasion, breaks out into enmity, open war, defiance, heart-burnings, whispering, calumnies, contentions, and all manner of bitter melancholy discontents. And those men which have no other object of their love, than greatness, wealth, authority, &c., are rather feared than beloved; nec amant quemquam, nec amantur ab ullo: and howsoever borne with for a time, yet for their tyranny and oppression, griping, covetousness, currish hardness, folly, intemperance, imprudence, and such like vices, they are generally odious, abhorred of all, both God and men.

"Non uxor salvum te vult, non filius, omnes
Vicini oderunt," --

"wife and children, friends, neighbours, all the world forsakes them, would feign be rid of them," and are compelled many times to lay violent hands on them, or else God's judgments overtake them: instead of graces, come furies. So when fair Abigail, a woman of singular wisdom, was acceptable to David, Nabal was churlish and evil-conditioned; and therefore Mordecai was received, when Haman was executed, Haman the favourite, "that had his seat above the other princes, to whom all the king's servants that stood in the gates, bowed their knees and reverenced." Though they flourished many times, such hypocrites, such temporising foxes, and blear the world's eyes by flattery, bribery, dissembling their natures, or other men's weakness, that cannot so apprehend their tricks, yet in the end they will be discerned, and precipitated in a moment: "surely," saith David, "thou hast set them in slippery places," Psal. xxxvii. 5. as so many Sejani, they will come down to the Gemonian scales; and as Eusebius in Ammianus, that was in such authority, ad jubendum Imperatorem, be cast down headlong on a sudden. Or put case they escape, and rest unmasked to their lives' end, yet after their death their memory stinks as a snuff of a candle put out, and those that durst not so much as mutter against them in their lives, will prosecute their name with satires, libels, and bitter imprecations, they shall male audire in all succeeding ages, and be odious to the world's end.

 

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