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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 see or hear 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 allegeth. 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 further expectation than can hold out, and so an insatisfaction on the end: if too weak, of the othe ide,

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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

sant.

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 bending 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

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"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 philosophy, 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 much less young men are fit auditors of matters of policy, till they have been thoroughly 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:"

and again,

"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 so it 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 na

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turâ, 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 at some times 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, and observances or exercises; which are not to be regarded so much in themselves, as because they keep the mind in continual obedience. The obliteration of the evil hath been practised by two

means, some kind of redemption or expiation of that which is past, and an inception or account "de

novo," for the time to come. But this part seemeth sacred and religious, and justly; for all good moral philosophy, as was said, is but an handmaid to religion.

Wherefore we will conclude with that last point, which is of all other means the most compendious and summary, and again, the most noble and effectual to the reducing of the mind unto virtue and good estate; which is, the electing and propounding unto a man's self good and virtuous ends of his life, such as may be in a reasonable sort within his compass to attain. For if these two things be supposed, that a man set before him honest and good ends, and again, that he be resolute, constant, and true unto them; it will follow that he shall mould himself into all virtue at once. And this indeed is like the work of nature; whereas the other course is like the work of the hand. For as when a carver makes an image, he shapes only that part whereupon he worketh, (as if he be upon the face, that part which shall be the body is but a rude stone still, till such time as he comes to it ;) but, contrariwise, when nature makes a flower or living creature, she formeth rudiments of all the parts at one time: so in obtaining virtue by habit, while a man practiseth temperance, he doth not profit much to fortitude, nor the like; but when he dedicateth and applieth himself to good ends, look, what virtue soever the pursuit and passage towards those ends doth commend unto

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