SELF-LOVE, pride, and vain-glory, cæcus amor sui, which Chrysostom calls one of the devil's three great nets; Bernard, "an arrow which pierceth the soul through, and slays it; a sly, insensible enemy, not perceived," are main causes. Where neither anger, lust, covetousness, fear, sorrow, &c., nor any other perturbation can lay hold; this will slily and insensibly pervert us, Quem non gula vincit, Philautia superavit, (saith Cyprian) whom surfeiting could not overtake, self-love hath overcome. "He hath scorned all money, bribes, gifts, upright otherwise and sincere, hath inserted himself to no fond imagination, and sustained all those tyrannical concupiscences of the body, hath lost all his honour, captivated by vain-glory." Chrysostom. sup. Io. Tu sola animum mentemque peruris, gloria. A great assault and cause of our present malady, although we do most part neglect, take no notice of it, yet this is a violent batterer of our souls, causeth melancholy and dotage. This pleasing humour; this soft and whispering popular air, Amabilis insania; this delectable frenzy, most irrefragable passion, Mentis gratissimus error, this acceptable disease, which so sweetly sets upon us, ravisheth our senses, lulls our souls asleep, puffs up our hearts as so many bladders, and that without all feeling, insomuch as "those that are misaffected with it, never so much as once perceive it, or think of any cure." We commonly love him best in this malady, that doth us most harm, and are very willing to be hurt; adulationibus nostris libenter favemus (saith Jerome) we love him, we love him for it: O Bonciari, suave suave fuit a te tali hæc tribui; 'Twas sweet to hear it. And as Pliny doth ingenuously confess to his dear friend Augurinus, "all thy writings are most acceptable, but those especially that speak of us." Again, a little after to Maximus, "I cannot express how pleasing it is to me to hear myself commended." Though we smile to ourselves, at least ironically, when parasites bedaub us with false encomiums, as many princes cannot choose but do, Quum tale quid nihil intra se repererint, when they know they come as far short, as a mouse to an elephant, of any such virtues; yet it doth us good. Though we seem many times to be angry, "and blush at our own praises, yet our souls inwardly rejoice, it puffs us up;" 'tis fallax suavitas, blandus dæmon, "makes us swell beyond our bounds, and forget ourselves." Her two daughters are lightness of mind, immoderate joy and pride, not excluding those other concomitant vices, which Iodocus Lorichius reckons up; bragging, hypocrisy, peevishness, and curiosity.
Now the common cause of this mischief, ariseth from ourselves or others, we are active and passive. It proceeds inwardly from ourselves, as we are active causes, from an overweening conceit we have of our good parts, own worth, (which indeed is no worth) our bounty, favour, grace, valour, strength, wealth, patience, meekness, hospitality, beauty, temperance, gentry, knowledge, wit, science, art, learning, our excellent gifts and fortunes, for which, Narcissus-like, we admire, flatter, and applaud ourselves, and think all the world esteems so of us; and as deformed women easily believe those that tell them they be fair, we are too credulous of our own good parts and praises, too well persuaded of ourselves. We brag and venditate our own works, and scorn all others in respect of us; Inflati scientia (saith Paul), our wisdom, our learning, all our geese are swans, and we as basely esteem and vilify other men's, as we do over-highly prize and value our own. We will not suffer them to be in secundis, no, not in tertiis; what, Mecum confertur Ulysses? they are Mures, Muscæ, culices præ se, nits and flies compared to his inexorable and supercilious, eminent and arrogant worship: though indeed they be far before him. Only wise, only rich, only fortunate, valorous, and fair, puffed up with this tympany of self-conceit; as that proud Pharisee, they are not (as they suppose) "like other men," of a purer and more precious metal: Soli rei gerendi sunt efficaces, which that wise Periander held of such: meditantur omne qui prius negotium &c. Novi quendam (saith Erasmus) I knew one so arrogant that he thought himself inferior to no man living, like Callisthenes the philosopher, that neither held Alexander's acts, or any other subject worthy of his pen, such was his insolency; or Seleucus king of Syria, who thought none fit to contend with him but the Romans. Eos solos dignos ratus quibuscum de iiperio certaret. That which Tully writ to Atticus long since, is still in force, "There was never yet true poet nor orator, that thought any other better than himself." And such for the most part are your princes, potentates, great philosophers, historiographers, authors of sects or heresies, and all our great scholars, as Hierom defines; "a natural philosopher is a glorious creature, and a very slave of rumour, fame, and popular opinion," and though they write de contemptu gloriæ, yet as he observes, they will put their names to their books. Vobis et famæ me semper dedi, saith Trebellius Pollio, I have wholly consecrated myself to you and fame. "'Tis all my desire, night and day, 'tis all my study to raise my name." Proud Pliny seconds him; Quanquam O! &c. and that vain-glorious orator, is not ashamed to confess in an Epistle of his to Marcus Lecceius Ardeo incredibili cupiditate, &c. "I burn with an lucreclible desire to have my name registered in thy book." Out of this fountain proceed all those cracks and brags, -- speramus carmina fingi Posse linenda cedro, et leni servanda cupresso -- Non usitata nec tenui ferar penna -- nec in terra morabur longius. Nil parvum aut humili modo, nil mortale loquor. Dicar qua violens obstrepit Ausidas.-- Exegi monumentum ære perennius. Jamque opus exegi, quod nec Jovis ira, nec ignis, &c., cum venit ille dies, &c., parte tamen meliore mei semper alta perennis astra ferar, nomenque erit indelebile nostrum. (This of Ovid I have paraphrased in English.)
"And when I am dead and gone
My corpse laid under a stone
My fame shall yet survive
And I shall be alive
In these my works for ever,
My glory shall persever," &c.
And that of Ennius,
"Nemo me lachrymis decoret, neque funera fictu
Faxit, cur? volito docta per ora virum."
"Let none shed tears over me, or adorn my bier with sorrow -- because I am eternally in the mouths of men." With many such proud strains, and foolish flashes too common with writers. Not so much as Democharis on the Topics, but he will be immortal. Typotius de fama, shall be famous, and well he deserves, because he writ of fame; and every trivial poet must be renowned, "-- Plausuque petit clarescere vulgi." "He seeks the applause of the public." This puffing humour it is, that hath produced so many great tomes, built such famous monuments, strong castles, and Mausolean tombs, to have their acts eternised, "Digito monstrari, et dicier hic est;" "to be pointed at with the finger, and to have it said, 'there he goes,'" to see their names inscribed, as Phryne on the walls of Thebes, Phryne fecit; this causeth so many bloody battles, "et noctes cogit vigilare serenas;" "and induces us to watch during calm nights." Long journeys, "Magnum iter intendo, sed dat mihi gloria vires," "I contemplate a monstrous journey, but the love of glory strengthens me for it," gaining honour, a little applause, pride, self-love, vain-glory. This is it which makes them take such pains, and break out into those ridiculous strains, this high conceit of themselves to scorn all others; ridiculo fastu et intolerando contemptu; as Palæmon the grammarian contemned Varro, secum et natas et morituras literas jactans, and brings them to that height of insolency, that they cannot endure to be contradicted, or "hear of any thing but their own commendation," which Hierom notes of such kind of men. And as Austin well seconds him, "'tis their sole study day and night to be commended and applauded." When as indeed, in all wise men's judgments, quibus cor sapit, they are "mad, empty vessels, funges, beside themselves, derided, et ut Camelus in proverbio quærens cornua, etiam quas habebat aures amisit, ("As Camelus in the novel who lost his ears while he was looking for a pair of horns") their works are toys, as an almanac out of date, authoris pereunt garrulitate sui, they seek fame and immortality, but reap dishonour and infamy, they are a common obloquy, insensati, and come far short of that which they suppose or expect. O puer ut sis vitalis metuo.
"-- How much I dread
Thy days are short, some lord shall strike thee dead"
Of so many myriads of poets, rhetoricians, philosophers, sophisters,as Eusebius well observes, which have written in former ages, scarce one of a thousand's works remains, nomina et libri simul cum corporibus interierunt, their books and bodies are perished together. It is not as they vainly think, they shall surely be admired and immortal, as one told Philip of Macedon insultingly, after a victory, that his shadow was no longer than before, we may say to them,
"Nos demiramur, sed non cum deside vulgo,
Sed velut Harpyas, Gorgonas, et Furias."
"We marvel too, not as the vulgar we,
But as we Gorgons, Harpies, or Furies see."
Or if we do applaud, honour and admire, quota pars, how small a part, in respect of the whole world, never so much as hears our names, how few take notice of us, how slender a tract, as scant as Alcibiades's land in a map! And yet every man must and will be immortal, as he hopes, and extend his fame to our antipodes, when as half no not a quarter of his own province or city, neither knows nor hears of him: but say they did, what's a city to a kingdom, a kingdom to Europe, Europe to the world, the world itself that must have an end, if compared to the least visible star in the firmament, eighteen times bigger than it? and then if those stars be infinite, and every star there be a sun, as some will, and as this sun of ours hath his planets about him, all inhabited, what proportion bear we to them, and where's our glory? Orbem terrarum victor Romanus habebat, as he cracked in Petronius, all the world was under Augustus: and so in Constantine's time, Eusebius brags he governed all the world, universum mundum præclare admodum administravit,-- et omnis orbis gentes Imperatori subjecti: so of Alexander it is given out, the four monarchies, &c., when as neither Greeks nor Romans ever had the fifteenth partof the now known world, nor half of that which was then described. What braggadocioes are they and we then? quam brevis hic de nobis sermo, as he said, pudebit aucti nominis, how short a time, how little a while doth this fame of ours continue? Every private province, every small territory and city, when we have all done, will yield as generous spirits, as brave examples in all respects, as famous as ourselves, Cadwallader in Wales, Rollo in Normandy, Robin Hood and Little John, are as much renowned in Sherwood, as Cæsar in Rome, Alexander in Greece, or his Hephestion, Omnis ætas omnisque populus in exemplum et admirationem veniet, every town, city, book, is full of brave soldiers, senators, scholars; and though Bracydas was a worthy captain, a good man, and as they thought, not to be matched in Lacedæmon, yet as his mother truly said, plures habet Sparta Bracyda meliores, Sparta had many better men than ever he was; and howsoever thou admirest thyself thy friend, many an obscure fellow the world never took notice of, had he been in place or action, would have done much better than he or he, or thou thyself.
Another kind of mad men there is opposite to these, that are insensibly mad, and know not of it, such as contemn all praise and glory, think themselves most free, when as indeed they are most mad: calcant sed alio fastu: a company of cynics, such as are monks, hermits, anchorites, that contemn the world, contemn themselves, contemn all titles, honours, offices: and yet in that contempt are more proud than any man living whatsoever. They are proud in humility, proud in that they are not proud, sæpe homo de vanæ gloriæ contemptu, vanius gloriatur, as Austin hath it, confess. lib. 10. cap. 38, like Diogenes, intus gloriantur, they brag inwardly, and feed themselves fat with a self-conceit of sanctity, which is no better than hypocrisy. They go in sheep's russet, many great men that might maintain themselves in cloth of gold, and seem to be dejected, humble by their outward carriage, when as inwardly they are swoln full of pride, arrogancy, and self-conceit. And therefore Seneca adviseth his friend Lucilius, "in his attire and gesture, outward actions, especially to avoid all such things as are more notable in themselves: as a rugged attire, hirsute head, horrid beard, contempt of money, coarse lodging, and whatsoever leads to fame that opposite way."
All this madness yet proceeds from ourselves, the main engine which batters us is from others, we are merely passive in this business: from a company of parasites and flatterers, that with immoderate praise, and bombast epithets, glozing titles, false eulogiums, so bedaub and applaud, gild over many a silly and undeserving man, that they clap him quite out of his wits. Res imprimis violenta est, as Hierom notes, this common applause is a most violent thing, laudum placenta, a drum, fife, and trumpet cannot so animate; that fattens men, erects and dejects them in an instant. Palma negata macrum, donata reducit opimum. It makes them fat and lean, as frost doth conies. "And who is that mortal man that can so contain himself, that if he be immoderately commended and applauded, will not be moved?" Let him be what he will, those parasites will overturn him: if he be a king, he is one of the nine worthies, more than a man, a god forthwith, -- edictum Domini Deique nostri: and they will sacrifice unto him,
"-- divinos si tu patiaris honores,
Ultro ipsi dabimus meritasque sacrabimus aras.
(Stroza. "If you will accept divine honours, we will willingly erect and consecrate altars to you.")
If he be a soldier, then Themistocles, Epaminondas, Hector, Achilles, duo fulmina belli, triumviri terrarum, &c., and the valour of both Scipios is too little for him, he is invictissimus, serenissimus, multis trophæis ornatissimus, naturæ dominus, although he be lepus galeatus, indeed a very coward, a milksop, and as he said of Xerxes, postremus in pugna, primus in fuga, and such a one as never durst look his enemy in the face. If he be a big man, then is he a Samson, another Hercules; if he pronounce a speech, another Tully or Demosthenes: as of Herod in the Acts, "the voice of God and not of man;" if he can make a verse, Homer, Virgil, &c. And then my silly weak patient takes all these eulogiums to himself; if he be a scholar so commended for his much reading, excellent style, method, &c., he will eviscerate himself like a spider, study to death, Laudatas ostendit avis Junonia pennas, peacock-like he will display all his feathers. If he be a soldier, and so applauded, his valour extolled, though it be impar congressus, as that of Troilus, and Achilles, Infelix puer, he will combat with a giant, run first upon a breach, as another Philippus, he will ride into the thickest of his enemies. Commend his housekeeping, and he will beggar himself; commend his temperance, he will starve himself.
"-- Laudataque virtus
Crescit, et immensum gloria calcar habet."
("Applauded virtue grows apace, and glory includes within it an immense impulse.")
he is mad, mad, mad, no woe with him;-- impatiens consortis erit, he will over the Alps to be talked of; or to maintain his credit. Commend an ambitious man, some proud prince or potentate, si plus æquo laudetur (saith Erasmus) cristas erigit, exuit hominem, Deum se putat, he sets up his crest, and will be no longer a man but a god.
"-- nihil est quod credere de se
Non audet quum laudatur diis æqua potestas."
("There is nothing which over-lauded power will not presume to imagine of itself.")
How did this work with Alexander, that would needs be Jupiter's son, and go like Hercules in a lion's skin? Domitian a god (Dominus Deus noster sic fieri jubet), like the Persian kings, whose image was adored by all that came into the city of Babylon. Commodus the emperor was so gulled by his flattering parasites, that he must be called Hercules. Antonius the Roman would be crowned with ivy, carried in a chariot, and adored for Bacchus. Cotys, king of Thrace, was married to Minerva, and sent three several messengers one after another, to see if she were come to his bed-chamber. Such a one was Jupiter Menecrates, Maximinus Jovianus, Dioclesianus Herculeus, Sapor the Persian king, brother of the sun and moon, and our modern Turks, that will be gods on earth, kings of kings, God's shadow, commanders of all that may be commanded, our kings of China and Tartary in this present age. Such a one was Xerxes, that would whip the sea, fetter Neptune, stulta jactantia, and send a challenge to Mount Athos; and such are many sottish princes, brought into a fool's paradise by their parasites, 'tis a common humour, incident to all men, when they are in great places, or come to the solstice of honour, have done or deserved well, to applaud and flatter themselves. Stultitiam suam produnt, &c., (saith Platerus) your very tradesmen if they be excellent, will crack and brag, and show their folly in excess. They have good parts, and they know it, you need not tell them of it; out of a conceit of their worth, they go smiling to themselves, a perpetual meditation of their trophies and plaudits, they run at last quite mad, and lose their wits. Petrarch, lib. 1. de contemptu mundi, confessed as much of himself, and Cardan, in his fifth book of wisdom, gives an instance in a smith of Milan, a fellow-citizen of his, one Galeus de Rubeis, that being commended for refining of an instrument of Archimedes, for joy ran mad. Plutarch in the life of Artaxerxes, hath such a like story of one Chamus, a soldier, that wounded king Cyrus in battle, and "grew thereupon so arrogant, that in a short space after he lost his wits." So many men, if any new honour, office, preferment, booty, treasure, possession, or patrimony, ex insperato fall unto them, for immoderate joy, and continual meditation of it, cannot sleep or tell what they say or do, they are so ravished on a sudden; and with vain conceits transported, there is no rule with them. Epaminondas, therefore, the next day after his Leuctrian victory, "came abroad all squalid and submiss," and gave no other reason to his friends of so doing, than that he perceived himself the day before, by reason of his good fortune, to be too insolent, overmuch joyed. That wise and virtuous lady, queen Katherine, Dowager of England, in private talk, upon like occasion, said, "that she would not willingly endure the extremity of either fortune, but if it were so, that of necessity she must undergo the one, she would be in adversity, because comfort was never wanting in it, but still counsel and government were defective in the other:" they could not moderate themselves.