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THE RIGHT REVEREND FATHER IN GOD,
LORD BISHOP OF WINCHESTER, AND COUNSELLOR OF ESTATE
TO HIS MAJESTY.
MY LORD, AMONGST consolations, it is not the least, to represent to a man's self like examples of calamity in others. For examples give a quicker impression' than arguments; and besides, they certify us, that which the Scripture also tendereth for satisfaction, that no new thing is happened unto us. This they do the better, by how much the examples are liker in circumstances to our own case; and more especially if they fall upon persons3 that are greater and worthier than ourselves. For as it savoureth of vanity, to match ourselves highly in our own conceito; so on the other side it is a good sound conclusion, that if our betters have sustained the like events, we have the less cause to be grieved."
In this kind of consolation I have not been wanting to myself; though as a Christian I have tasted (through God's great goodness) of higher remedies. Having therefore, through the variety of my reading, set before me many examples both of ancient and later times, my thoughts (I confess) have chiefly stayed upon three particulars, as the most eminent and the most resembling. All three, persons that had held chief place of
afficiunt autem erempla eo magis, quo, &c. si Fortuna illos non levius mulctarit, qui, &c.
si nos ipsos cum melioribus componamus. 5 non esse cur nos supra modum conqueramur.
Cogitationes meæ moram (fateor) fecerunt, imo etiam acquieverunt, in tribus precipue viris ; tanquam maxime eminentibus, et cum illâ fortunâ quæ mea aliquando fuit conjunctissimis.
authority in their countries; all three ruined, not by war, or by any other disaster, but by justice and sentence, as delinquents and criminals; all three famous writers, insomuch as the remembrance of their calamity is now as to posterity but as a little picture of night-work, remaining amongst the fair and excellent tables of their acts and works'; and all three (if that were any thing to the matter) fit examples to quench any man's ambition of rising again; for that they were every one of them restored with great glory, but to their further ruin and destruction, ending in a violent death. The men were, Demosthenes, Cicero, and Seneca; persons that I durst not claim affinity with, except the similitude of our fortunes had contracted it. When I had cast mine eyes upon these examples, I was carried on further to observe? how they did bear their fortunes, and principally how they did employ their times, being banished and disabled for public business: to the end that I might learn by them; and that they might be as well my counsellors as my comforters. Whereupon I happened to note, how diversely their fortunes wrought upon them; especially in that point at which I did most aim, which was the employing of their times and pens. In Cicero, I saw that during his banishment (which was almost two years) he was so softened and dejected, as he wrote nothing but a few womanish epistles. And yet, in mine opinion, he had least reason of the three to be discouraged : for that although it was judged, and judged by the highest kind of judgment, in form of a statute or law, that he should be banished, and his whole estate confiscated and seized, and his houses pulled down, and that it should be highly penal for any man to propound his repeal; yet his case even then had no great blot of ignominy; but it was thought but a tempest of popularity which overthrew him. Demosthenes contrariwise, though his case was foul, being condemned for bribery; and not simple bribery, but bribery in the nature of treason and disloyalty ; yet nevertheless took so little knowledge of his fortune, as during his banishment he did much busy himself and intermeddle with matters of state; and took upon him to
The rest of this sentence is not in the Cambridge MS. 2 Fuerunt hi tres viri, Demosthenes, Cicero, et Seneca. Quando igitur cum viris hisce eximiis me tum fortuna tum studia conjunxerint, inquirere et observare cæpi, gc, 3 epistolas quasdam muliebres . . . omnia questibus implentes.
temporis procella. * licet judicium quo proscriberetur ignominia plenum esset.
counsel the State (as if he had been still at the helm) by letters; as appears by some epistles of his which are extant. Seneca indeed, who was condemned for many corruptions and crimes, and banished into a solitary island, kept a mean; and though his pen did not freeze, yet he abstained from intruding into matters of business; but spent his time in writing books, of excellent argument and use for all ages; though he might have made better choice (sometimes) of his dedications.'
These examples confirmed me much in a resolution (whereunto I was otherwise inclined) to spend my time? wholly in writing; and to put forth that poor talent, or half talent, or what it is, that God hath given me, not as heretofore to particular exchanges, but to banks or mounts of perpetuity, which will not break. Therefore having not long since set forth a part of my Instauration ; which is the work, that in mine own judgment (si nunquam fallit imago) I do most esteem; I think to proceed in some new parts thereof.And although I have received from many parts beyond the seas, testimonies touching that work, such as beyond which I could not expect 6 at the first in so abtruse an argument; yet nevertheless I have just cause to doubt, that it flies too high over men's heads 7: I have a purpose therefore (though I break the order of time) to draw it down to the sense, by some patterns of a Natural Story and Inquisition. And again, for that my book of Advancement of Learning may be some preparative, or key, for the better opening of the Instauration; because it exhibits a mixture of new conceits and old; whereas the Instauration gives the new unmixed, otherwise than with some little aspersion of the old for taste's sake; I have thought good to procure
licet aliquos eorum dedicaverit, minus pro dignitate.
utque talentum a Deo concreditum, non ut prius Trapezitis particularibus, sed excambiis publicis, quæ nunquam exhaurientur et usuram pro certo reddent, committerem.
* ante annos aliquot.
• quibus non potuerim majora, cum tam insigni approbatione et honore ..
per exempla quædam et portiones Naturalis Historiæ, et Inquisitiones super eam : quod etiam ex parte feci.
The Historia Ventorum was published about the beginning of November 1622, and the Historia Vitæ et Mortis about the end of the following January; after the English version of this letter was written, probably, and before it was translated. In the Cambridge MS., which appears to be of an earlier date than Rawley's copy, the last sentence stands thus : “I have taken a course to draw it down to the sense, which cannot fail."