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SEND you I the last part of the best book of Aristotle of Stagira, who, as your lordship knoweth, goeth for the best author. But, saving the civil respect which is due to a received estimation, the man being a Grecian and of a hasty wit, having hardly a discerning patience, much less a teaching patience, hath so delivered the matter as I am glad to do the part of a good house hen, which, without any strangeness, will sit upon pheasant's eggs. And yet, perchance, some that shall compare my lines with Aristotle's lines, will muse by what art, or rather by what revelation, I could draw these conceits out of that place. But I, that should know best, do freely acknowledge that I had my light from him; for where he gave me not matter to perfect, at the least he gave me occasion to invent. Wherein as I do him right, being myself a man that am as free from envying the dead in contemplation, as from envying the living in action or fortune: so yet, nevertheless, still I say, and I speak it more largely than before, that in perusing the writings of this person so much celebrated, whether it were the impediment of his wit, or that he did it upon glory and affectation to be subtle, as one that if he had seen his own conceits clearly and perspicuously delivered, perhaps would have been out of love with them himself; or else upon policy, to keep himself close, as one that had been a challenger of all the world, and had raised infinite contradiction: to what cause soever it is to be ascribed, I do not find him to deliver and unwrap himself well of that he seemeth to conceive, nor to be a master of his own knowledge. Neither do I, for my part also, though I have brought in a new manner of handling this argument, to make it pleasant and lightsome, pretend so to have overcome the nature of the subject, but that the full understanding and use of it will be somewhat dark, and best pleasing to the taste of such wits as are patient to stay the digesting and soluting unto themselves of that which is sharp and subtle. Which was the cause, joined with the love and honour I bear your lordship, as the person I know to have many virtues and an excellent order of them, which moved me to dedicate this writing to your lordship after the ancient manner: choosing both a friend, and one to whom I conceived the argument was agreeable.
*Not originally prefixed to the work. It is found in the "Remains" published by Stephens, and there is a MS. of it in the British Museum. (Montagu.)
IN deliberatives, the point is, what is good, and what is evil; and of good what is greater; and of evil what is less.
So that the persuader's labour is to make things appear good or evil, and that in an higher or lower degree; which as it may be performed by true and solid reasons, so it may be represented also by colours, popularities, and circumstances, which are of such force as they sway the ordinary judgment either of a weak man or of a wise man, not fully and considerately attending and pondering the matter. Besides their power to alter the nature of the subject in appearance, and so to lead to error, they are of no less use to quicken and strengthen the opinions and persuasions which are true: for reasons plainly delivered, and always after one manner, especially with fine and fastidious minds, enter but heavily and dully; whereas if they be varied, and have more life and vigour put into them by these forms and insinuations, they cause a stronger apprehension, and many times suddenly win the mind to a resolution. Lastly, to make a true and safe judgment, nothing can be of greater use and defence to the mind than the discovering and reprehension of these colours, showing in what cases they hold and in what they deceive; which, as it cannot be done, but out of a very universal knowledge of the nature of things; so being performed, it so cleareth man's judgment and election, as it is the less apt to slide into any error.
A Table of the Colours (or Appearances) of Good and Evil; and their Degrees, as Places of Persuasion, and Dissuasion, and their several Fallaxes, and the Elenchs of them.
1. Cui cæteræ partes vel secta secundas unanimiter deferunt, cum singulæ principatum sibi vindicent, melior reliquis videtur. Nam primas quæque ex zelo videtur sumere; secundas autem ex vero et merito tribuere,
Since all parties, or sects, challenge the pre-eminence of the first place to themselves; that, to which all the rest with one consent give the second place, seems to be better than the others. For every one seems to take the first place out of zeal to itself, but to give the second where it is really due.
Cicero went about to prove the sect of Academics, which suspended all asseveration, for to be the best. For, saith he, ask a Stoic which philosophy is true, he will prefer his own: then ask him, which approacheth next the truth, he will confess, the Academics. So deal with the Epicure, that will scant endure the Stoic to be in sight of him; so soon as he hath placed himself, he will place the Academics next him.1
So, if a prince took divers competitors to a place, and examined them severally, whom next themselves they would chiefly commend; it were like the ablest man should have the most second votes.
The fallax of this colour happeneth oft in respect of envy; for men are accustomed, after themselves, and their own fashion, to incline to them which are softest, and are least in their way, in despite and derogation of them, that hold them hardest to it. So that this colour of meliority and pre-eminence is a sign of enervation and weakness.
1 Cic. Acad. apud Augustin, c. Acad. iii. 7.
2. Cujus excellentia, vel exsuperantia melior; id toto genere melius.
That kind is altogether best, whose excellence or preeminence is best.
APPERTAINING to this are the forms: Let us not
wander in generalities. Let us compare particular with particular, &c. This appearance, though it seem of strength, rather logical than rhetorical, yet is very oft a fallax.
Sometimes because some things are in kind very casual, which if they escape, prove excellent, so that the kind is inferior, because it is so subject to peril; but that, which is excellent, being proved, is superior. As the blossom of March, and the blossom of May, whereof the French verse goeth:
Bourgeon de Mars, enfant de Paris,
So that the blossom of May is generally better than the blossom of March; and yet the best blossom of March is better than the best blossom of May.
Sometimes, because the nature of some kinds is to be more equal, and more indifferent, and not to have very distant degrees, as hath been noted in the warmer climates, the people are generally more wise, but in the northern climate the wits of chief are greater. So in many armies, if the matter should be tryed by duel between two champions, the victory should go on the one side; and yet, if it be tried by the gross, it would go of the other side. For excellencies go as it were by chance, but kinds go by a more certain nature, as by discipline in war.
Lastly, many kinds have much refuse, which countervail that which they have excellent; and therefore generally metal is more precious than stone, and yet a diamond is more precious than gold.
3. Quod ad veritatem refertur, majus est, quam quod ad opinionem. Modus autem et probatio ejus, quod ad opinionem pertinet, hæc est: Quod quis, si clam putaret fore, facturus non esset.
That which hath relation to truth is greater than that which refers to opinion. But the measure and tryal of that, which belongs to opinion, is this: That which a man would not do, if he thought it would not be known.