« PreviousContinue »
harder to be cured, than that which is given with the sword. Be you rather a hearer and bearer away of other men's talk, than a beginner or procurer of speech; otherwise you shall be counted to delight to hear yourself speak.* If you hear a wise sentence, or an apt phrase, commit it to your memory, with respect to the circumstance when you shall speak it. Let never oath be heard to come out of your mouth, nor word of ribaldry ; detest it in others : so shall custom make to yourself a law against it in yourself.f Be modest in each assembly, and rather be rebuked, of light fellows for maiden-like shamefacedness, than of your sad friends for pert boldness. Think upon,
* He, that cannot refrain from much speaking, is like a city without walls; and less pains in the world a man cannot: take, than to hold his tongue. Therefore, if thou observest, this rule in all assemblies, thou shalt seldom err: restrain thy choler ; hearken much, and speak little: for the tongue is the instrument of the greatest good and greatest evil, that is done in the world.' (Ralegh.)
• You will particularly practise that first and greatest rule for pleasing in conversation, as well as for drawing instruction and improvement from the company of one's superiors in age and knowledge; namely, to be a patient, attentive, and well-bred hearer, and to answer with modesty.'-Pythagoras injoined his scholars an absolute silence for a long noviciate. I am far from approving such a taciturnity: but I highly recommend the end and intent of Pythagoras' injunction; which is, to dedicate the first parts of life more to hear and learn, than to be presuming, prompt, and Aippant in hazarding one's own rude notions of things.' (Lord Chatham's 'Letters to his Nephew.')
+ Avoid swearing in your ordinary communication, unless called to it by the magistrate; and not only the grosser oaths, but imprecations, earnest and deep protestations. As you have . the commendable example of good men to justify a solemn oath before a magistrate, so you have the precept of our Saviour forbidding it otherwise. (Hale.)
I Be not over-earnest, loud, or insolent in talking, for it is
évery word that you will speak, before you utter it; and remember how nature hath rampired up as it were the tongue with teeth, lips, yea, and hair without the lips, and all betokening reins or bridles for the loose use of that member.* Above all things, tell no untruth, no not in trifles. The custom of it is naught: and let it not satisfy you, that for å time the hearers take it for a truth; for after, it will be known as it is, to your shame : for there cannot be a greater reproach to a gentleman, than to be accounted a liar.f Study and endeavour yourself to be virtuously occupied; so shall you make such an habit of well doing in you, that you shall not know how to do evil,
unseemly; and earnest and loud talking makes you overshoot and lose your business : when you should be considering and pondering your thoughts, and how to express them significantly to the purpose, you are striving to keep your tongue going, and to silence an opponent, not with reason but with noise. (Hale.)
* «You have two eyes and two ears, but one tongue: you know my meaning. The last you may imprison, as nature hath already done with a double fence, and lips; or else she may imprison you. According to our countryman Mr. Hoskyn's ad. vice, when he was in the Tower, Vincula da lingua, vel tibi vincla dabit.'
(Howell's Letters, ii. 5.) + . Let
your speech be true, never speaking any thing for a truth, which you know or believe to be false. It is a great sin against God, that gave you a tongue to speak your mind, and not to speak a lie: it is a great offence against humanity itself; for, where there is no truth, there can be no safe society between man and man: and it is an injury to the speaker ; for beside the bare disreputation it casts upon him, it doth in time bring a man to that baseness of mind, that he can scarcely tell how to tell a truth, or to avoid lying even when he hath no colour or necessity for it: and in time he comes to such a pass, that as another man cannot believe he tells a truth, so he himself
though you would. Remember, my son, the noble blood you are descended of by your mother's side : and think, that only by virtuous life and good actions you may be an ornament to that illustrious family; and, otherwise, through vice and sloth you shall be counted labes generis, one of the greatest curses that can happen to man.
Well, my little Philip, this is enough for me, and too much I fear for you. But, if I shall find that this light meal of digestion nourish any thing the weak stomach of your young capacity, I will, as I find the same grow stronger, feed it with tougher food. • Your loving father, so long as you live in the fear of God,
· H. SIDNEY.'
From his uncle the Earl of Leicester's letter to Archbishop Parker in 1569, requesting a licence to allow young Sidney to eat flesh in Lent, it may be inferred that his health was delicate. This did not, however, prevent him from completing his education at Oxford, where he was placed in the course of that year, under the tuition of Dr. Thomas Thornton, a very learned man, characterised as the common re
young poor scholars of great hopes and parts, ' and distinguished as the preceptor, the benefactor, and the friend of William Camden.
In the same year likewise, in order most pro
scarcely knows when he tells a lie. And observe it, a lie ever returns with discovery and shame at the last.' (Hale.)
• Take heed also, that thou be not found a liar; for a lying spirit is hateful both to God and man. A liar is, commonly, à coward; for he dares not avow truth. He is trusted of no man; he can have no credit, neither in public nor private.' (Ralegh.)
bably to unite the rival interests of two illustrious famílies, Leicester, with the approbation of the parents on both sides, projected his nephew's marrying Anne, the eldest daughter of Sir William Cecil: but, possibly from the tender age of the parties themselves, the arrangement was not realised. His public disputation with Mr. Carew, subsequently, author of the Survey of Cornwall, and his friendly and flattering attention to Camden, are recorded as highly honourable to his academical career.*
“ It has been justly remarked,” observes Dr. Zouch, “ that the interval between the ages of sixteen and one and twenty years a period, at which the cares of a common education cease, or are much relaxed—is that precise season of life, which requires all the attention of the most vigilant, and all the address of the wisest governors.” With Mr. Sidney it did not pass away unimproved. He cultivated not one art, or one science, but the whole circle of arts and sciences; his capacious and comprehensive mind aspiring to pre-eminence in every part of knowledge attainable by men, of genius or industry. “ Such, indeed,” we are told by Fuller," was his appetite for learning, that he could never be fed fast enough therewith; and so quick and strong his digestion, that he soon turned it into wholesome nourishment, and thrived healthily thereon.” To him every invention was communicated, and from him received it's appropriate encouragement and reward. 66 There was not (says Greville) a cunning painter,
* For some time he appears also to have pursued his studies at the sister-university, where he had an opportunity of consolidating with his relation Mr. Fulke Greville the friendship, which had already commenced between them at school.
a skilful engineer, or excellent musician, or any other artificer of extraordinary fame, that did not make himself known to this famous spirit, and found him his true friend without hire."
In 1572, notwithstanding the rigid circumspection, which then scarcely indulged to any except mercantile or military characters the privilege of going abroad, he obtained from his Sovereign permission to travel for two years, and was by his noble uncle strongly recommended to Mr. Walsingham, at that time the English embassador in France. On his arrival in Paris, Charles IX. is said to have been so much struck with his ingenuous manners and conversation, that he appointed him Gentleman Ordinary of his chamber. This promotion, however, has been generally deemed less an indication of real regard, than an insidious measure to decoy* Admiral Coligni and the principal Huguenots to the capital, on the occasion of the nuptials of the King of Navarre, with a view of exterminating them at the meditated massacre of St. Bartholomew's Day.t
In the general consternation occasioned by this
* The Lords Leicester and Burghley, and the sons of the Elector Palatine, it has been asserted upon good authority, were comprehended in the invitations ; that Protestantism might be extirpated by a kind of Caligula blow, as far as possible, through out Europe. That these two noblemen were great promoters of the Reformation in England, may be deduced from Archbishop Parker's Bible of 1568, in which their portraits are given with that of Queen Elizabeth.
+ That this bloody transaction, in which ten thousand victims were slaughtered without distinction of age, sex, or condition, should have received the applauses of Muretus (the pupil of Julius Cæsar Scaliger) and Strada, and have been