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a little by Aristotle, as in passage, in his Rhetorics, and are handled in some scattered discourses; but they were never incorporated into moral philosophy, to which they do essentially appertain; as the knowledge of the diversity of grounds and moulds doth to agriculture, and the knowledge of the diversity of complexions and constitutions doth to the physician; except we mean to follow the indiscretion of empirics, which minister the same medicines to all patients.
Another article of this knowledge, is the inquiry touching the affections; for as in medicining of the body, it is in order first to know the divers complexions and constitutions; secondly, the diseases; and lastly, the cures; so in medicining of the mind, after knowledge of the divers characters of mens natures, it followeth, in order, to know the diseases and infirmities of the mind, which are no other than the perturbations and distempers of the affections. For as the ancient politicians in popular estates were wont to compare the people to the sea, and the orators to the winds, because as the sea would of itself be calm and quiet, if the winds did not move and trouble it ; so the people would be peaceable and tractable if the seditious orators did not set them in working and agitation: so it may be fitly said, that the mind in the nature thereof would be temperate and stayed, if the affections, as winds, did not put it into tumult and perturbation. And here again I find strange as before, that Aristotle should have written divers volumes of Ethics, and never handled the affections, which is the principal subject thereof; and yet in his Rhetorics, where they are considered but collaterally, and in a second degree, as they may be moved by speech, he findeth place for them, and handleth them well for the quantity; but where their true place is, he pretermitteth them. For it is not his disputations about pleasure and pain that can satisfy this inquiry, no more than he that should generally handle the nature of light, can be said to handle the nature of colours; for pleasure and pain are to the particu
lar affections, as light is to particular colours. Better travels, I suppose, had the Stoics taken in this argument, as far as I can gather by that which we have at second hand. But yet, it is like, it was after their manner, rather in subtilty of definitions, which, in a subject of this nature, are but curiosities, than in active and ample descriptions and observations. So likewise I find some particular writings of an elegant nature, touching some of the affections; as of anger, of comfort upon adverse accidents, of tenderness of countenance, and other. But the poets and writers of histories are the best doctors of this knowledge, where we may find painted forth with great life, how affections are kindled and incited; and how pacified and refrained; and how again contained from act, and farther degree; how they disclose themselves; how they work; how they vary; how they gather and fortify; how they are inwrapped one within another; and how they do fight and encounter one with another; and other the like particularities. Amongst the which, this last is of special use in moral and civil matters: how, I say, to set affection against affection, and to master one by another, even as we use to hunt beast with beast, and fly bird with bird, which otherwise percase we could not so easily recover: upon which foundation is erected that excellent use of præmium and pœna, whereby civil states consist, employing the predominant affections of fear and hope, for the suppressing and bridling the rest. For as in the government of states, it is sometimes necessary to bridle one faction with another, so it is in the government within.
Now come we to those points which are within our own command, and have force and operation upon the mind, to affect the will and appetite, and to alter manners: wherein they ought to have handled custom, exercise, habit, education, example, imitation, emulation, company, friends, praise, reproof, exhortation, fame, laws, books, studies: these as they have determinate use in moralities, from these the mind suffereth, and of these are such receipts and regiments
compounded and described, as may serve to recover or preserve the health and good estate of the mind, as far as pertaineth to human medicine; of which number we will insist upon some one or two, as an example of the rest, because it were too long to prosecute all; and therefore we do resume custom and habit to speak of.
The opinion of Aristotle seemeth to me a negligent opinion, that of those things which consist by nature, nothing can be changed by custom; using for example, that if a stone be thrown ten thousand times up, it will not learn to ascend, and that by often seeing or hearing, we do not learn to hear or see the better. For though this principle be true in things wherein nature is peremptory, the reason whereof we cannot now stand to discuss, yet it is otherwise in things wherein nature admitteth a latitude. For he might see that a strait glove will come more easily on with use; and that a wand will by use bend otherwise than it grew; and that by use of the voice we speak louder and stronger; and that by use of enduring heat or cold, we endure it the better, and the like which latter sort have a nearer resemblance unto that subject of manners he handleth, than those instances which he alledgeth. But allowing his conclusion, that virtues and vices consist in habit, he ought so much the more to have taught the manner of superinducing that habit: for there be many precepts of the wise ordering the exercises of the mind, as there is of ordering the exercises of the body, whereof we will recite a few.
The first shall be, that we beware we take not at the first either too high a strain, or too weak: for if too high in a diffident nature you discourage; in a confident nature you breed an opinion of facility, and so a sloth and in all natures you breed a farther expectation than can hold out, and so an insatisfaction in the end: if too weak of the other side, you may not look to perform and overcome any great task.
Another precept is, to practise all things chiefly at two several times, the one when the mind is best
disposed, the other when it is worst disposed; that by the one you may gain a great step, by the other you may work out the knots and stonds of the mind, and make the middle times the more easy and plea
Another precept is that which Aristotle mentioneth by the way, which is, to bear ever towards the contrary extreme of that whereunto we are by nature inclined: like unto the rowing against the stream, or making a wand straight, by binding him contrary to his natural crookedness.
Another precept is, that the mind is brought to any thing better, and with more sweetness and happiness, if that whereunto you pretend be not first in the intention, but tanquam aliud agendo, because of the natural hatred of the mind against necessity and constraint. Many other axioms there are touching the managing of exercise and custom; which being so conducted, doth prove indeed another nature; but being governed by chance, doth commonly prove but an ape of nature, and bringeth forth that which is lame and counterfeit.
So if we should handle books and studies, and what influence and operation they have upon manners, are there not divers precepts of great caution and direction appertaining thereunto? Did not one of the fathers in great indignation call poesy-vinum dæmonum, because it increaseth temptations, perturbations, and vain opinions? Is not the opinion of Aristotle worthy to be regarded, wherein he saith, "That young men are no fit auditors of moral phi
losophy, because they are not settled from the
boiling heat of their affections, nor attempered with "time and experience?" And doth it not hereof come, that those excellent books and discourses of the ancient writers, whereby they have persuaded unto virtue most effectually, by representing her in state and majesty; and popular opinions against virtue in their parasites coats, fit to be scorned and derided, are of so little effect towards honesty of life, because they are not read, and revolved by men in
their mature and settled years, but confined almost to boys and beginners? But is it not true also, that muchless young men are fit auditors of matters of policy, till they have been throughly seasoned in religion and morality, lest their judgments be corrupted, and made apt to think that there are no true differences of things, but according to utility and fortune, as the verse describes it?
Prosperum et felix scelus virtus vocatur.
Ille crucem pretium sceleris tulit, hic diadema : which the poets do speak satirically, and in indignation on virtue's behalf: but books of policy do speak it seriously and positively; for it so pleaseth Machiavel to say, "that if Cæsar had been overthrown, he would "have been more odious than ever was Catiline:" as if there had been no difference, but in fortune, between a very fury of lust and blood, and the most excellent spirit, his ambition reserved, of the world? Again, is there not a caution likewise to be given of the doctrines of moralities themselves, some kinds of them, lest they make men too precise, arrogant, incompatible, as Cicero saith of Cato in Marco Catone: Hæc bona, quæ videmus, divina et egregia, ipsius scitote esse propria: quæ nonnunquam requirimus, ea sunt omnia non a natura, sed a magistro? Many other axioms and advices there are touching those proprieties and effects, which studies do infuse and instil into manners. And so likewise is there touching the use of all those other points, of company, fame, laws, and the rest, which we recited in the beginning in the doctrine of morality.
But there is a kind of culture of the mind that seemeth yet more accurate and elaborate than the rest, and is built upon this ground: that the minds of all men are sometimes in a state more perfect, and at other times in a state more depraved. The purpose therefore of this practice is, to fix and cherish the good hours of the mind, and to obliterate and take forth the evil. The fixing of the good hath been practised by two means, vows or constant resolutions,