Being short and practical for his Highness special use.
This life is a comedy or a play, wherein every one doth his part, we should press to pass it over with moderate affections, that the end be not cruel or doleful, as in tragedies, but full of mirth like a comedy.
Unto the victor the life is sweet and happy, but to those that are overcome, nothing is more bitter, then to put their hopes in their enemies' mercy.
As unto champions of old lots gave fellows, and not election, with whom they should fight: so every one of us hath destinies in our times, wherewith to strive.
As he who goeth a journey doth reckon the miles: so he that hath entered the way of this life, shall not determine of his years. For as from the spring flow the rivers, from the root the branch: so from the first education cometh the rest of man's life. And if thou wouldst live truly, thou must press to profit thy country, to defend the commonwealth, and to live well without liberty: thou must prefer death before ignominious shame, or slavery. For as this life is rosy, so it hath flowers mixed with thorns, the one to be plucked up, the other to be eschewed so far as we may.
It is a part of victory to trouble the enemy before we fight, and as it is laudable to overcome an enemy, it is no less praiseworthy to have pity on the miserable. For as courage doth merit infinite glory, so the love of all, and the good will of all merits mercy and meekeness.
The feeble and weak minded man is ever prideful in prosperity: for he thinks his virtues are such, as can maintain the fortunes which he hath gotten, and thinks still he is able to attain and acquire more and more: but when the tempest of adversity doth arise, then is he so far afraid, that he becomes void of all hopes; and this oftentimes is the cause of the sudden change of his fortunes.
Nothing doth diminish more the publishing of praise, then when one continually casteth up his own success in actions of war, and oft-times striving to get abundance of honour; men show their riches, of swelling pride; for disdaining his former friends, he misknowes his acquaintance, pressing to go before, he is greevous or displeasing to all his familiars. Our care then should be, to want this arrogancy, ostentation or pride, and pray for humility, being more acceptable unto God then detestable pride, which is an unprofitable evil, a secret poison, a hidden pest, the ingenier of deceipt, the mother of hypocrisy, the parent of envy, the beginner of vice, the moth of holiness, the blinder of hearts, breeding sickness out of remedies, and begetting langour out of medicine.
There is ever some fatality incident unto those that desire vain-glory or ostentation: and those that are proud rejecting the prayers of the humble with disdain, they often incur the indignation of God, and fall oft into calamity, except they take heed unto themselves.
These spirits are bentest on ambition that are of great and sharp wits, and of high minds, being ready to think on great matters, and to undertake them: but heroic spirits on the contrary, considering the worthy acts of others, are stirred up unto virtue, while as others with glory of succession becoming more insolent and negligent, make tragical ends, being oppressed with small things, they die unworthily.
The duty of a good man, is to reserve himself for the well and use of his country and friends, being wary lest he should be lost rashly (as my dear and only brother was) who did not neglect his duty, neither in word nor deed, but to his death served God in his calling, though his death was sudden, being the condition of mortal men, that are still subject unto such changes, that oft-times in their greatest prosperity comes adversity, and from their adversity their prosperity again, God hiding the cause of both from us. It were better then to prevent a wound, then out of time to seek remedy: for in the midst of evil is not the time to be merry, and those hurts are most, which we receive unlooked for. Therefore it were much better to prevent, then to suffer, and it were much better to enter in danger being guarded, then out of time to grow pale. Vain then are the counsels of mortal men, when we see no human happiness to be permanent, since the roots are taken up before they come to maturity, except they be confirmed by the divine providence; And chiefly in wars, as being most uncertain, as we see by the untimely death spoken of; but no man can forbid God's decree. Nevertheless men that through age, and long experience have obtained wisdom, before they enter in a business, they should look unto the event, and unto that, which by all expectation may happen: for it is ever the greatest wisdom to use the present time best; we ought then on all occasions we are employed on, to strengthen our minds with virtue, that we may be safe overcoming all encumbrances, that once we have condemned in the judgment seat of wisdom, which always is accompanied with praise and glory, when we not only equal ourselves with those that excelled in virtue, but also press to go before them.
Wisdom goeth before all other things in esteem, as the most precious jewel we can possess, being spread she is gathered, given away she returneth, being published groweth greater; by her the noble treasure of conscience is spread unto the secrets of the mind, the fruit of inward joy by her is attained unto: this is the sun wherewith the light of the mind doth show itself and appear in darkness, being the eye of the heart, the delightful paradise of the soul, the heaven upon earth immortall, changing man into God, through knowledge, deifying him, this fellow is invincible against all strokes, he stirs not a foot for poverty, grief, ignominy, pain, he is afraid of nothing, and is ever full of joy, merry, pleasant and untouched, living like a god. Who desireth then to be wise and partake of this goodness that is so excellent, they must not use themselves to vanity, but they must think on that which is most profitable for them, being not forbidden to use bodily exercise moderatly: they may become wise, first by thinking what is past, and in whose time of their predecessours things were best governed. Secondly, he must diligently observe the good to come, what can be profitable for him and what not, that he may eschew the evil to come, and embrace the good. Thirdly, he should observe the good customs and laws passed, being provident, mindful, understanding, reasonable, diligent, tractable, expert and cunning; and he must consider four good things; What is his aim; The way and manner he aims at; The person aiming; And those he governs.
A soldier without letters is like a ship without a Rudder, or like a bird without feathers; but having letters, he finds wherewith he can be made wiser, finding out by letters, courage, and many other great helps to govern and direct those aright, whom he commands: neither is that fortune in the world to be had, where out of letters his knowledge may not be bettered, if he be but painfull, for being lettered he can strictly keep under the cruel, and defend laws without terror, temperating them to his mind, the meek also he can civilly admonish, and the deceitful he can wisely go about, and the simple he can handle with lenity, showing his prudency in all his actions, foreseing all dangers which may happen. Therefore we see, that science to a man of war is a brave mistress, teaching him to do all things as they did in old times.
It is a hard matter when the diligent, and industrious soldier is disappointed of his hire, and that he is rewarded with injury who did merit better. This of all evils is most insufferable, that he, who deserveth a reward, should be frustrate of his hopes: for reward is due unto valiant captains and soldiers that were instruments in chief of victory, glory and honour: as Sir James Ramsey and Sir John Hamilton were, in forcing the passage to the castle of Würzburg, who nevertheless were frustrate of reward, and therefore I cannot but allow of the resolution of Sir John Hamilton being no soldier of fortune, that took his pass of the Sweden for being frustrate of the reward of his virtue, seeing those disdained that did merit best. Where we see that a gentle heart, being crossed contrary to reason, doth presently resent his wrongs, pointing out to the world, that he is not the man that can suffer or swallow a seen injury done to him and his nation.
It is better to fear evil, preparing ourselves for danger, than through too much security, and contempt of the enemy to suffer ourselves to be overcome; for it is dangerous to have to do with a desperate body, seeing necessity maketh those that are fearful to become stout, and those who fear no dangers are easily lost, as witnesseth the death of the Invincible King of Sweden: and those dangers ought to be eschewed, from whence ariseth greatest evil; and experience hath taught us, that nothing is more dangerous in wars, then to fight great battles on unequall terms, as witnesseth the doleful battle fought at Nördlingen in August 1634. After which loss those, that should have fought for their country, their wives and children, did prove feeble cowards (viz.) the German Princes, Saxony, Brandeburg, Lüneburg, with the rest of the gentry, giving occasion to others, that came to help them, for to leave them. It is no wonder then, they be plagued themselves wishing help another time, when justly they cannot have it, having rewarded their helpers so ill as they have done, and through their covetousness and niggardly sparing been the cause and instruments of their own overthrowes, and of the loss of the cause, being I fear the fore-runners of their successors' punishment, which I wish may not happen.
Before the fall of Kingdoms arise dissensions, that overthrow the confederates more than their enemies, as it happened here in our late wars of Germany, after the death of his Majesty of Sweden, the Dutch princes, especially Saxony, slighting his Excellency the Rex-chancellour of Sweden and his Directorium as supreme, calling him disdainfully a pedant, or a penman. So that we see that dissension, or discord amongst the superiors was the first cause of the sudden loss of Nördlingen. Next we see that the country was destroyed, not only for their sins, but also for not punishing of sin. For after his Majesty's death, what punishment was to be seen in our army? none at all: when our own horsemen plundered their friends, not being punished, they began to intercept letters, and to rob the common post, and to hinder the country's correspondency, and common traffic: which being overseen, and winked at by our generals, they begun then to plunder the Chancellors' own wagons, abusing his servants, and taking his baggage: thereafter the strongest amongst themselves set the weakest party to foot, taking away their horses, till at last the whole army refused to obey the Director and his Concilium formatum, lying idle for three months in Donauwörth leaguer, suffering the enemy to over-run the country, and all because that the officers alleged after his Majesty's death, that the scriveners who followed the Chancellor, were in better esteem, than the cavaliers, that had done notable good service unto his Majesty: so that, through this jealousy, the army came in disorder, being the first change, and the rest, piece and piece did follow, till at last the whole army was lost, through the number of wrongs that went before, in the end custom and use of wrongs infected the nature itself, and the lack, or want of punishment, and the liberty and freedom, which was given to offend, at last the ruin of families, that were famous did follow, for not punishing of sin. We see then, when a potent king, and heroic, as Gustavus was in the time he did live, all things florished in a good order, but he once gone, the commonwealth was punished for their former sins committed in time of their plenty, and peace; when they had their heaven upon earth, as other nations have now, who ought to look unto themselves in time, lest that the Lord raise not up another heroic to make them to be punished, as other nations have been, to the eversion of great cities, as Magdeburg, and divers others: for when the public burdens do grow, then governements do change, as was seen here; for laws being cast away, and discipline put in fetters; then suddenly did follow change, and great ruin, after the King's death of worthy memory.
Nothing loses more, as we see, the common cause, than the want of authority in one person, as was formerly said of the Saxons' jealousy over the Rex-Chancellor's governement. Also the same fault was seen in the army under commanders: as at Nördlingen, betwixt supreme officers, as also betwixt their inferiors: who for want of one supreme commander, as Gustavus was, they could not agree among themselves. Likewise the dissension and jealousy betwixt Duke Barnard, and the Rhinegrave helps nothing to the furtherance of the good cause, being both brave commanders: though seldom seen command in one place, and it is to be pitied, how the Rhinegrave after the loss of Nördlingen, not being bastant against the enemy, was forced to swim the Rhine on horse-back, and died soon thereafter; who was a renowned, valourous cavalier, as ever I was acquainted with of the Dutch nation, serving in those wars; all these mischiefs were caused through the want of one Supreme leader to conduct them, as the enemy had. Which should teach all men to submit themselves to authority, lest by doing otherwise they procure their own ruin.
To repent a thing, when it is done, is most foolish, which might have been prevented with counsel: for none that do repent counsel can be esteemed wise. Therefore a counsellor should be very faithful, never counselling his friend for his own aim, lest he that is counselled perceive not his drift, and then be deceived. But counsel is taken from necessity, and followed. And a good commander deserves praise as well for his wisdom, as for his valour: But evil counsel is a plague or judgement from the Lord; yet those counsels are ever safest, that come from him that will be partaker both of the danger, and of the counsel. Therefore it is not good rashly to use the counsel of a traitor, nor of an enemy: but we should rather examine, and shift counsels, and not trust easily, and be deceived. Counsel then we see is the chief ground to govern matters well, being secret, true and free, without flattery, or respect of persons, just and holy, casting aside all private gains, and utility, foresing the public weal; and if thou wouldst be truly counselled, thou must take heed to those caveats: first that the speech be wholesome, and unreproveable; his counsel profitable, his life honest, his sentence pleasant, not wavering like a child, or unconstant, neither ought you ask many what you would do, but show it to a few and trusty friends, which are rare to be found: and when thy near friends cannot resolve thee, flee to those for their counsels, whose daily experience is approved for their wisdom in their own affairs, and then you shall do well.
Military discipline is lost, when the cruelty and avarice of officers is extended in detaining of soldiers' means; and supreme officers neglecting to content cavaliers, make the whole army turn rebellious, as at Donauwörth, the Concilium formatum and their treasurer, having not given the army one month's means complete of the whole contribution they had collected the year after his Majesty's death, but paid themselves, and their secretaries duly, which raised great envy against them, the army having mutinied for want of pay: which made them afterward want both the contribution and the country, through misgovernement of their Consilium.
It is in vain for a cavalier to fear anything but God, and the offence of his Supreme officer; for being honest, modesty hindering his flight makes him victorious in midst of danger, and of his enemies: as chanced me and my collegues at Rügenwalde in Pomerania, having escaped danger by sea, were come to land in danger of our enemies, but the Lord and the duty we ought our master, made us abide the danger of our enemies, which the Lord turned to our best, giving us victory and freedom. Shall I then distrust this God, having had this time, and divers times before, great experience of his mercies? God forbid. No, I will still trust in him, do to me what he will; for I know his mercies go beyond all his works, and they endure for ever.
A man unjustly hurt, as many were, that served the Sweden, once escaped, their commanders are now their greatest enemies; for the memory of injuries received, is ever more recent in the actor, than in the patient: and is also more difficult to be reconciled: as oft times experience doth prove. Therefore I would advise my friend not to suffer injury if he can, & if injury be done him, not to pass it over for flattery, lest in accepting of a slight satisfaction, he should injure himself more, than the other did. But by the contrary, I would advise him timely to repair himself, that he may preserve the former dignity. Likewise the greater our injuries received are, & the greater they commove us, the more ought our wit to moderate our revenge; seeing to moderate ourselves, and to overcome our desires, is the greatest praise we can have, being revenged. Yet injuries do ever stick nearer unto us, then the remembrance of benefits received: for in remembering of benefits, we ascribe the good to our own merits, flattering ourselves; but on the contrary, remembering our injuries received, we call them to mind a great deal more cruelly, than they were done without moderation. I must then advise my friend, that he not only prevent the deed of his enemy, but also his counsels, lest they bring detriment upon him: for he ought to be alike with the offer of an injury being a cavalier, and with the intention, as if the deed had followed. The offering then of a stroke may be repaired with a sword, the giving of a lie is repaired with a blow, words not tending to disgrace are repaired with words again, the loss of goods is restored by restitution, with circumstances convenient, and to quarrel for a light occasion is want of understanding, especially with thy betters in esteem. For there should be had respect of persons, of times, and of circumstances observed, before a man should quarrel; and having once quarrelled, I would advise my friend not to be put back without honourable satisfaction, or at least great hazard, not coming unto the fields for the first bout, or blood, and then to return with disgrace unthought of by thyself, though much by others, as I have known cavaliers do.
In battle fighting with the enemy, at the first be very slow against a fierce enemy, that the enemy being weary your strength fresh and a little succours joined unto you, the enemy is soon beaten, and having once begun war, follow it with sword, fire, spoil, slaughter, till the streets be full; a rover should never be a ruer, so long as his hands are unto it, and you should never give time to the enemy to join forces, but pursue them ever as they come, never neglecting an enemy, though he be weak, but still keep a good reserve by yourself, and pursue by parties supplying your own, as they need, and timely, and without doubt you shall gain honour and credit.
Trust never thyself rashly to a reconciled enemy, without pledges first had, for keeping good peace; and being desirous to possess anything belonging to thy enemy, thou hast need to use rather diligence, then delay, that thou mayest catch them unawares, as Gustavus did Frankfurt on the Oder. And nothing is more to be suspected, than a near enemy, which Landsberg did find after the taking of Frankfurt, and nothing is more cruel than a barbarous enemy, as was found by our regiment at Newbrandenburg, and thereafter by our comrades at Magdeburg.
Wars may be taken on by the counsel of sluggards, but they must be sustained with the labour, and danger of the most valiant, as was well seen after Gustavus the Invincible's death: It was not the Prince's confederates, or their Consilium, was able to do the turn, whose reward to cavaliers was but paper. As their reward was naught, so their Consilium turned to nothing, and which was worse, to contempt, except the director alone, who as yet hath kept life in the cause, though without their means or assistance: and which is more honourable for him, he maintains the war against them, who unworthily have broken their oaths and fidelity, having turned their arms against those who formerly had relieved them, to their perpetual disgrace, shame and ignominy, having scorned men, that had merited well in offering to reward them with paper, their punishment is that for their infamy, their names shall rot in oblivion. Nam ubi orta est culpa, ibi poena consistit.
All things here being but human, are unstable and unconstant, so that there is nothing sure, except true piety; and we see our lives bring manythings forth contrary to our expectation, so that the condition of our human life containes the first, and the last day. For it is much to be looked unto, with what luck we did begin, and with what we ended. We judge him then happy, who did receive the light happily, and happened to restore it again pleasantly, which that we may do, I humbly crave of God Almighty.