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the reason of that speech; grounded upon the care and shift, that it makes for its own preservation. While it is under covert, it knows how to bar the fore-door against the cold northern and eastern blasts; and to open the back-door, for quieter and calmer air. When it is pursued, it knows how to roll up itself round within those thorns, with which nature hath environed it so as the dog, instead of a beast, finds now nothing but a ball of pricks to wound his jaws; and goes away crying from so untoothsome a prey.
He, that sent the sluggard to school to the pismire, sends also in effect the careless and imprudent man to the hedgehog, while he saith, If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself. The main care of any creature is self-preservation: whatsoever doth that best, is the wisest. These creatures, that are all body, have well improved the instincts of nature, if they can provide for their bodily safety: man, that is a reasonable soul, shall have done nothing, if he make not sure work for the better part.
O God, make me soul-wise: I shall never envy their craft, that pity my simplicity.
On the sight of a goat.
THIS creature an ill name. It is not for any good qualities, that God hath made choice of the goat, to resemble the wicked and reprobate soul. It is unruly, and salacious, and noisome.
I cannot see one of them, but I presently recall to my thoughts the woeful condition of those on the left-hand, whom God hath set aside to so fearful a damnation. They are here mixed with the flock: their colour differs nothing from the sheep; or if we do discern them, by their rougher coat and odious scent, we sever ourselves from them: but, the time shall come, when he shall sever them from us, who hath appointed our innocency to the fold, and their harmfulness to an everlasting slaughter. Onwards, if they climb higher than we; and feed upon those craggy cliffs, which we dare scarce reach to with our eyes; their boldness is not greater than their danger, neither is their ascent more perilous than thei ruin deadly.
CXXV. On the sight of the blind and the lame.
The blind man
HERE is a true natural commerce of senses. hath legs; the lame man hath eyes: the lame man lends his eyes to the blind; the blind man lends his legs to the lame;
lexi quò respexerit adagium illud; unumque illud magnum comperi, curam salutis suæ callidè satis conservandæ. Quamdiu siquidem sub tectorio suo delitescit, ostium suum aquilonaris orientalisque venti flatibus rigidioribus obstruere catè novit; posticum verò aperire, ut leniore interim aurâ commodè perfruatur. Egressum foràs insequitur canis, jam modò comprehensurus, in globum illico convolvitur erinaceus, sentibusque illis quibus ipsum undique munivit natura ita totus jacet circumseptus: ut delusus hostis, vice bestiæ, quam avidè venabatur, nihil præter pilam quandam spinosam, quâ fauces ipsi miserè doleant, reperire possit; jamque a prædâ tam ingratâ, non sine clamore, territus ac sauciatus aufugit.
Qui formicæ ignavum tradidit in disciplinam, echino itidem securum videtur improvidumque demandâsse, dum, Si sapis, ais, tibimet ipsi sapias. Animantium cuique præcipuè incumbit suæ salutis cura conatusque: quicquid verò hoc optimè omnium præstiterit, meritò audit prudentissimum. Quæ merum corpus sunt animalia, naturæ instinctui fecerunt satis, si quæ ad corporis tutelam spectant solicitè sibi prospexerint: homo autem, qui ratione insuper præditus est, nihil egisse judicabitur, nisi meliori sui parti largè tutòque providerit.
O Deus, animæ meæ fac sapiam satis: astutiæ illorum, qui simplicitatis meæ miserentur, si invidero, dispeream.
CXXIV. Viso capro.
MALE audit hoc animal. Neque quid præ se fert boni, quòd ex aliis omnibus à Deo ipso eligatur istud, quo improbæ reprobæque animæ conditio aptissimè exprimatur. Petulcus est ilicet, salax, fætidus.
Quoties sanè hircum conspicio, non possum non in animum revocare horrendum eorum statum, quos ad sinistram sepositos ad gehennam devovit justus vindex Deus. In terris quidem gregi fortè miscentur isti: nec externo colore à genuinis ovibus quicquam discrepant; quòd si quem forsan horum, hirsutâ pelle, tetro infestoque odore, dignoscere contigerit, nosmetipsos forte tantisper dum subducimus: at, veniet aliquando dies, quo à nobis illos æternùm segregabit is, qui innocentiam nostram caulæ assignavit, eorumque nequitiam perpetuæ, quam meriti sunt, laniena. Interim verò scandant illi, quantum lubet; celsissimè, præruptisque in montibus, quos vix quidem nos oculis audemus attingere, securè pascantur; non est audacia ipsorum periculo suo major, nec ascensus præceps magis quàm ruina certa deploranda.
CXXV. Cæco et claudo unà conspectis.
VERUM istic est et naturale sensuum commercium. Cæco pedes sunt; claudo, oculi: claudus cæco oculos commodat;
and now both of them move, where otherwise both must sit still and perish. It is hard to say, whether is more beholden to other: the one gives strength, the other direction; both of them equally necessary to motion.
Though it be not in other cases so sensible, yet surely this very traffic of faculties is that, whereby we live; neither could the world subsist without it: one man lends a brain; another, an arm: one, a tongue; another a hand. He, that knows wherefore he made all, hath taken order, to improve every part to the benefit of the whole. What do I wish ought that is not useful? And if there be any thing in me, that may serve to the good of others, it is not mine, but the Church's. I cannot live, but by others: it were injurious, if others should not likewise share with me.
CXXVI. On the sight of a map of the world.
WHAT a poor little spot is a country! A man may hide with his thumb, the great territories of those, that would be accounted Monarchs. In vain, should the great Cham, or the great Mogul, or Prester John, seek here for his court: it is well, if he can find his kingdom, amongst these parcels. And, if we take all together, these shreds of islands and these patches of continent, what a mere indivisible point they are, in comparison of that vast circle of heaven, wherewith they are encompassed!
It is not easy for a man to be known to that whole land wherein he lives: but if he could be so famous, the next country perhaps never hears of his name: and, if he can attain to be talked of there, yet the remoter parts cannot take notice that there is such a thing: and if they did all speak of nothing else, what were he the better? O the narrow bounds of earthly glory! O the vain affection of human applause! Only that man is happily famous, who is known and recorded in heaven,
CXXVII. On the sight of hemlock.
THERE is no creature of itself evil: misapplication may make the best so: and there is a good use to be made of the worst. This weed, which is too well proved to be poisonous, yet to the goat is medicinal; as serving, by the coldness of it, to temper the feverous heat of that beast. So we see the marmoset eating of spiders; both for pleasure and cure.
Our ignorance may not bring a scandal upon God's workmanship; or, if it do, his wisdom knows how, to make a good use even of our injury. I cannot say, but the very venom of
cæcus claudo pedes; jamque movet uterque, aliter verò quiescant ambo pereantque necesse est. Uter horum plus alteri debeat, nescio: hic vires dat, ille viam dirigit; utrunque motui æquè necessarium.
Certè, ipsum hoc facultatum commercium, etsi aliis in rebus non ita liquidò pateat, illud est, quo vivimus; et sine quo, ne mundus quidem posset subsistere : hic cerebrum affert; ille, brachium linguam, hic; ille, manum. Qui solus novit cur ista omnia creaverit, ita etiam singula disposuit, ut unaquæque pars communi totius universi beneficio aliquid conferat. Quorsum optarim ego inutile quicquam? Si quid verò in me sit, quod aliorum bono inserviat, non meum est, ilicet, sed Ecclesiæ. Absque aliorum ope, vivere non possum: injurius essem, nisi me aliis itidem æquè communicarem.
CXXVI. Visâ tabulâ orbis geographicâ.
QUAM minutula est, parvæque lituræ similis, regio aliqua tota! Magna eorum imperia, qui Monarchæ audire volunt, facilè quis vel pollice uno tegat. Frustrà, hìc aulam sibi quærat magnus ille Tartarorum Chamus, Mogores Indus, aut Ethiopum, quisquis est, Imperator: satis est, si regnum quisque suum, inter tot orbis segmina, indigitare possit. Et, si insularum ista fragmenta continentisque insuper minutiæ in unum colligantur, quàm nihil aliud sunt hæc omnia nisi punctum indivisibile, præ vasto cœli ambitu, quo cinguntur universa!
Haud facile homini est patriæ suæ toti innotescere: quòd si forsan eò usque fama ipsius pertingere possit, terræ tamen vicinæ nomen ejus prorsùs inauditum est: vel, si et illìc per hominum ora volitare meruerit, partes saltem remotiores tale quiddam esse in rerum naturâ penitùs ignorant: tandem verò si demus, quod tamen nemo unquam mortalium assecutus est, uno omnium ore solum celebrari, quanto interim est ille reliquis melior beatiorve? O angustos terrenæ gloriæ fines! O inanem popularis auræ captationem! Solus ille, demum, verè fœliciterque celebris est, cujus nomen cœlo et notum est et inscriptum.
CXXVII. Ad conspectum cicuta.
NULLA creaturarum ex se suâque naturâ mala est: applicatione quidem sinistrâ, vel optima quæque fit mala: uti et, è contrà, pessima fieri potest usu salutaris. Herba hæc, quam nimia experientia venenosam probavit, capro tamen benignum satis pharmacum est; quippe quæ, frigiditate nimiâ, febricitantis animalis calorem optimè temperet. Ita cercopithecus araneas liberè comedit; dapes hinc sibi parans et remedia.
Non est quòd ignorantia nostra opificio Dei contumeliam inferat; vel, si nos istoc ausi, satis novit summa ipsius sapientia, hoc, quicquid est injuriæ, in bonum sibi convertere. Indubium
the creatures is to excellent purpose: how much more their beneficial qualities! If ought hurt us, the fault is ours; in mistaking the evil for good: in the mean time, we owe praise to the Maker, and to the creature a just and thankful allowance.
CXXVIII. On a flower-de-luce.
THIS flower is but unpleasingly fulsome for scent; but the root of it is so fragrant, that the delicatest ladies are glad to put it into their sweet bags: contrarily, the rose tree hath a sweet flower, but a savourless root: and the saffron yields an odoriferous and cordial spire, while both the flower and the root are unpleasing. It is with vegetables, as with metals.
God never meant to have his best always in view neither meant he to have all eminences concealed. He would have us to know him, to be both secretly rich, and openly bountiful. If we do not use every grace in its own kind, God loses the thanks, and we the benefit.
CXXIX. On the sight of two trees, one high, the
THOSE trees, that shoot up in height, are seldom broad; as, contrarily, those trees, that are spreading, are seldom tall: it were too much ambition in that plant, which would be both ways eminent.
Thus it is with men. The covetous man, that affects to spread in wealth, seldom cares to aspire unto height of honour the proud man, whose heart is set upon preferment, regards not, in comparison thereof, the growth of his wealth. There is a poor shrub in a valley, that is neither tall nor broad, nor cares to he either, which speeds better than they both. The tall tree is cut down, for timber; the broad tree is lopped, for fire-wood; besides, that the tempest hath power on them both whereas the low shrub is neither envied by the wind, nor threatened by the axe; but fostered rather, for that little shelter which it affords the shepherd. If there be glory in greatness, meanness hath security. Let me never envy their diet, that would rather be unsafe, than inglorious.
CXXX. On the sight of a drunken man.
REASON is an excellent faculty; and, indeed, that, which alone differenceth us from brute creatures without which, what is man, but a two-legged beast? And, as all precious things are tender, and subject to miscarriage; so is this, above others the want of some little sleep, the violence of a fever, or one cup too much, puts it into utter distemper. What can