The next day it seemed good to Langius to bring me unto his gardens, being two, which he kept with very great care, one in the hill over against his house, the other further off in a valley by the river of Moze.
Which river holdeth his course gently
By a town seated most pleasantly.
Therefore coming somewhat timely into my chamber, what, Lipsius, said he, shall we walk abroad, or had you rather take your ease and sit still? Nay, Langius, I had rather walk with you. But whither shall we go? If it please you, quoth Langius, to my garden by the river's side; the way is not far, you shall exercise your body and see the town. Finally, the air is there pleasant and fresh in this hot weather. It pleases me well, said I, neither shall any way be tedious for me to follow if you go before; though it were to the furthest Indies. And therewith calling for our cloaks, we put them on; we went, and went into the garden. In the very entrance as I cast my eyes about with a wandering curiosity, wondering with myself at the elegance and beauty of the place: My sire, said I, what pleasantness and bravery is this? You have heaven here, Langius, and no garden. Neither do the glittering stars above shine clearer in a fair night than your fine flowers glistering and showing their colors with variety. Poets speak much of the gardens of Adonis and Alcinous; they are trifles and in comparison of this no better than pictures of flies; when I drear nearer and applied some of the flowers to my nose and eyes, what shall I wish first, quoth I, to be all eye with Argus or nose with Catallus? This delight so tickles and feeds both my senses at once. Away, away all ye odors of Arabia, you are loathsome unto me in comparison of this pure and celestial air that I savor. Then spake Lipsius wring me softly by the hand and not without laughter: It is well commended of you, Lipsius, but truly neither I nor my country dame Flora, here present, do deserve these lofty and friendly praises. Yea, but they are truly deserve, Langius. Think ye that I flatter you? I speak in good earnest and from my heart. The Elysian fields are not Elysian in respect of [in comparison to] this your farm. For behold, what exquisite neatness is here on every side? What order? How proportionably are all things disposed in their borders and places, that even checkerwork in tables is not more curious? Again, what plenty is here of flowers and herbs? What strangeness and novelty? In so much that nature seems to have compacted with in this little plot, whatsoever thing of price is comprised in this or that new world.
And surely, Langius, this your industrious care of gardens is a labor well-beseeming and praiseworthy. A labor, whereto (if I guess not amiss) every good man as he is most temperately given, so is he drawn by nature and addicted thereunto. An argument thereof is this, that you cannot name any kind of delight which the chief men of all ages have more affected than this. Look into the holy Scripture, and you shall see that gardens had their beginnings with the world, God himself appointing the first man his habitation therein, as the seat of a blessed and happy life. In profane writers the gardens of Adonis, of Alcinous, Tantalus and the Hesperides are grown into fables and common proverbs; also in very good approved histories you shall find that King Cyrus had gardens and orchards planted with his own hands; that Semiramis had goodly flowers hanging in the air; Marsinissa strange and famous garnished gardens, to the wonder of Africa. Moreover, among the ancient Grecians and Romans, how many could I allege that have case aside all other cares and betaken themselves wholly to this study? And they all (in a word) philosophers and wise men, who eschewing the cities and troublesome assemblies of people, contained themselves within the bounds and limits of their gardens. And among these, methinks I see King Tarquin in the time of that first old Rome, walking pleasantly in his garden, and cropping the tops of poppy. I remember Cato Censorinus given to the pleasure of gardens and writing seriously of that argument; Lucullus after his victories obtained in Asia, taking his recreation in his gardens. Sulla, who forsaking the dictatorship spent his old age joyously here; lastly I may not forget the Emperor Diocletian that preferred his pot herbs and lettuce of a poor farm at Salona before the imperial scepter and robes of purple. Neither have the common people dissented from the judgment of the better sort, in this point, in that I know all honest minds and free from ambition have ever been delighted in this exercise. For there is in us a secret and natural force (the causes whereof I cannot easily comprehend) which draws unto this harmless and liberal recreation not only those that be prove by nature that way; but also such austere and grave personages as would seem to despise and deride it.
And as it is not possible for any man to contemplate heave and those immortal spirits there without fear and reverence, so can we not behold the earth and her sacred treasures nor the excellent beauty of this inferior world, without an inward tickling and delight of the senses. Ask thy mind and understanding, it will confess itself to be led, yea and fed with this aspect and sight. Ask thy senses of seeing and smelling, they will acknowledge that they take not greater delight in anything than in the decent borders and beds of gardens. Pause I pray thee a little while and behold the multitude of flowers with their daily increasings, one in the stalk, one in the bud, another in the blossom. Mark how one fades suddenly and another springs [forth]. Finally, observe in one kind of flower the beauty, the form, the shape or fashion either agreeing or disagreeing among themselves a thousand ways. What mind is so stern that amid all these will not bend itself with some mild cogitation, and be mollified thereby? Now come hither a while thou curious eye, and be fixed a little upon these gay and neat colors; mark well this natural purple, that sanguine, this ivory, that snowing color; this fiery, that golden hue; and so many other colors besides, as the best painter may emulate but never be able to imitate with his pencil. Lastly, what a sweet odor is there? What percing [piercing?] savor? And I wot not what part of the heavenly air infused from above that it is not without cause why the poets fained that flowers for the most part sprang up first from the juice and blood of their gods. O the true fountain of joy and sweet delight! O the seat of Venus and the Graces. I wish to rest me and lead my whole life in your bowers. God grant me leave (far from all the tumults of towns) to walk with a gladsome and wandering eye amid these herbs and flowers of the known and unknown world [a marginal note is attached to "unknown world": "the new world, as it is commonly called"]; and to reach my hands and to cast mine eyes one while to this full-grown flower and another while to that newly in the blossom; so that my mind being beguiled with a kind of wandering retchlessness* I may cast off the remembrance of all cares and troubles.
*My guess (not having checked a dictionary that does a good job of preserving archaic usages) is that this means something like "bliss," since "wretch" connotes a miserable person and the "w" is silent.--JG
When I had thus spoken sharply in voice and countenance, then spake Langius softly unto me; I see, Lipsius, I see you love this flourishing purple nymph, but I fear me you dote upon her. You commend gardens but so as you seem only to admire vain and outward things therein, neglecting the true and lawful delights thereof. You pore only upon colors and borders and are greedy of strange flowers brought from all parts of the world. And to what end is all this? Except it be that I might account thee one of that sect, which is risen up in our days, of curious and idle persons who have made a thing which was in itself good and without any offense to be the instrument of two foul vices, vanity and slothfulness. For even to this end have they their gardens; they do vaingloriously hunt after strange herbs and flowers, which having gotten, they preserve and cherish more carefully than any mother does her child; these be the men whose letters fly abroad into Thracia, Greece, and India only for a little root or seed. These men will be more grieved for the loss of a newfound flower than for an old friend. Would not any man laugh at that Roman which mourned in black for the death of a fish that he had. [A marginal note explains that the reference is to "Hortensius who (it is said) wore mourning apparel for the loss of a lamprey."] So do these men for a plant.
Now if any of these whom ye see come hither to my dame Flora for flowers, happen to get any new or strange one, how does he boast of it? His companions do grudge and envy at him, yea some of them return home with a heavier heart than ever did Sulla or Marcellus when they were put back in their suit for the praetorship. What should I call this but a kind of merry madness not unlike the striving of children about their little puppets and [doll?] babies?
Yet consider moreover what great pains they take in these gardens. They sit, walk about the alleys [paths?], stretch themselves like sluggards, and sleep, so as they make that place not only a nursery of idleness but a very sepulcher of their slothfulness. A profane generation of men! Whom I may rightly banish from the ceremonies and communion of true gardens which I know were ordained for modest recreation, not for vanity; for solace not for sloth. What? Shall I be so light-headed as to be lifted up or pressed down in mind for the getting or losing of some rare and strange herb? Nay rather I will esteem all things according to their worth and setting aside the enticement of rareness and novelty, I know they are but herbs or flowers; that is, things fading and of small consequence. Of which the poet speaks very fitly that "Zephirus with his blast bringeth up some and withereth others." Therefore I do not contemn the beauty and elegance of them (as you may see for example here before your eyes); but I dissent from the opinion of these great garden masters, in that I get them without much travell [I suspect he means "travail," i.e., effort, and not "travel."--JG], keep them without care [in the sense of anxiety], and lose them without grief. Again I am not so simple or base-minded as to tie or wed myself to the shadows of my garden. I find some business even in the midst of my idleness; my mind is there busied, without any labor [drudgery], and exercised without pain. "I am never less solitary," said one, "than when I am alone; nor never less idle than when I am at leisure." A worthy saying, which I dare swear had its first beginning in these self same gardens that I speak of. For they be ordained not for the body but for the mind; and to recreate it not to besot it with idleness; only as a wholesome withdrawing place from the cares and troubles of this world. Art thou weary of the concourse of people? Here thou mayest be alone. Have thy worldly business tired thee? Here thou mayest be refreshed again, where the food of quietness and gentle blowing of the pure and wholesome air will even breathe a new life into thee. Dost thou consider the wise men of old times? They had their dwelling in gardens. The studious and learned wits of our age? They delight in gardens; and in them (for the most part) are compiled those divine writings of theirs which we wonder at, and which no posterity or continuance of time shall be able to abolish. So many sharp and subtle disputations of natural philosophy proceed from those green bowers. So many precepts of manners from those shadowy Academies. Yea out of the walks and pleasant aisles of gardens spring those sweet abounding rivers which with their fruitful overflowings have watered the whole world. For why? The mind lifts up and advances itself more to these high cogitations when it is at liberty to behold its own home, heaven, than when it is enclosed within the prisons of houses or towns. Here you learned poets compose ye some poems worthy of immortalitiy. Here let all the learned meditate and write; here let the philosophers argue and dispute of contentation, constancy, life, and death. Behold, Lipsius, the true end and use of gardens, to wit, quietness, withdrawing from the world, meditation, reading, writing, and all this as it were by way of recreation and sport; as painters having dimmed their eyes with long and earnest beholding their work do recomfort them with certain glasses or green colors so here may we refresh our wearied and wandering minds.
And why should I conceal mine intent from thee? Seest thou yonder arbor curiously wrought with sundry pictures cut out of the green boughs; the same is the house of my muses, my nursery and school of wisdom. Here I either ply myself with diligent and earnest reading or else sow in my heart some seed of good cogitations, and thereby lay up some wholesome lessons in my mind, as it were weapons in an armory, which are always ready with me at hand against the force and mutability of fortune. So soon as I put my foot in that place, I bid all vile and servile cares abandon me, and lifting up my head as upright as I may, I contemn [i.e., scorn] the delights of the profane people and the great vanity of human affairs.
Yea I seem to shake off everything in me that is human, and to be rapt up on high upon the fiery chariot of wisdom. Dost thou think when I am there that I take any care what the Frenchmen or Spaniards are in practicing, who possess the scepter of Belgica or who be deprived of it? Whether the tyrant of Asia [apparently the ruler of the Turks] threaten us by sea or by land? Or finally what the king of the cold country under the north pole imagines? No, none of all these things trouble my brain. I am guarded and fenced against all external things and settled within myself, careless of all cares save one, which is that I may bring in subjection this broken and distressed mind of mine to right reason and God, and subdue all human and earthly things to my mind. That whensoever my fatal day shall come, I may be ready with a good courage joyfully to welcome it and depart this life not as thrust out at the window but as let out at the door. This is my recreation, Lipsius, in my gardens. These be the fruits which I will not exchange, so long as I am in my right mind, for all the treasure of Persia and India.
Thus Langius made an end of speaking, and with his last profound and constant talk, I confess he made me amazed. Yet recalling myself, O happy man, said I, both in tranquillity and troubles! O more than manly courage in a man! Which would to God I were able to some measure to imitate, and to creep after your footsteps, though I came far behind. Here Langius reprehending me, what talk you of imitating? You may easily exceed me, and not only follow but far pass me. For I myself, Lipsius, have trod but very little in this path of constancy and virtue. [This apparently corresponds to the point in the writings of the Roman Stoics where the writers invariably admit that they themselves fall short of sagedom! --JG] Neither am I to be compared as yet to the valiant and good men but perchance am a little better than the most effeminate and worst sort. [sic] But thou, whose towardness is lusty and quick, set thyself forward and under my conduct enter into this highway which leads directly to stability and constancy. The way that I speak of is wisdom, whose even and easy track I pray and admonish thee that thou not cease to tread. Hast thou delighted in learning and the company of those nine sisters [the Muses, as the marginal note explains]? I like it well, knowing that by this lighter and pleasant kind of learning, the mind is prepared and made ready "not being fit before to receive the sacred seed" [marginal note: Augustine's words and judgment in his first book of order]. Howbeit I allow not that thou shouldst stay there and make that both the beginning and perfection of all thy studies. These must be the foundation not the self work [i.e., not the work itself]. The way to the mark but not the goal or mark itself that we run at [toward]. If thou were bidden to a banket [banquet] I trowe thou wouldst not only taste of marzipans and junkets but first settle thy stomach with some stronger meat [=food]; why should not the like be done in this public feast of learning? Why, I say, join we not to the firm food of philosophy, with the sweet delicates of orators and poets? Mistake me not, I do not condemn these latter but commend them in their place; and I would have those loose wandering nymphs to be bridled, as I may say, by some severe Bacchus.
The wooers that Homer writes of are worthily scoffed, who, missing of Penelope, became suitors to her maids. Beware thou do not likewise and forsaking the lady of all, fall in love with her servants. It is plausible kind of praise to be called a learned man, but better to be called a wise man, and best of all to have the title of a good man. Let us follow this, and by many labors let us not covet to know alone but to be wise and do thereafter [act according to our wisdom].
How little worth is learning's skill Where wisdom is not present still?
So says the old verse truly. How many are there at this day of the train [retinue] of the muses that do disgrace both themselves and the name of learning? Some, for that they are replenished with vices and wickedness; many for that they be vain, inconstant, only speculative, and given to no fruitful or profitable study. What though they understand Greek and Latin authors? That is all, they do nothing but understand them. And as Anacharsis spake prettily of the Athenians, that the use money only to cast accounts withal (nummis ad numerandum); so these men have their knowledge to know end but to know. So little care have they of their life and deeds, in my conceit, that it is not without cause that learning is so ill spoken of among the multitude, as if it were a mistress to ungodliness. Howbeit good letters being rightly used are a directory unto virtue, couple wisdom with them; unto the which learning ought to prepare and frame our wits, not to detain or challenge them to itself. For as some trees will bear no fruit except they grow near unto others that be of the male kind; no more will these tender virgins (I mean good letters) unless they be conjoined with the manly courage of wisdom.
Why dost thou correct [edit?] the writings of Tacitus if thy own life be uncorrected? Why dost that illustrate Tranquillus, thyself being in the dark mist of errors? Why art thou so careful in purging Plautus from faults and imperfections, when thy own mind is full of foul filth and sluttishness? Give thyself at length to better studies; and get learning that may serve not for vain ostentation but to some good use and purpose. Apply thyself to wisdom, which may amend thy evil manners, set a t rest and beautify thy distempered and unclean mind; she only is able to imprint virtue and to work the impression of constancy in thee and to set only unto thee the temple of a good mind.
This admonition wrought in me an earnest desire which I could not conceal; and thereupon I said, My father, in heart and mind I follow you, when shall I be able in deeds so to do? When will that day come wherein I shall be free from all these cares that trouble me, and tread the trace that leads unto true wisdom, whereby I may attain to constancy? Langius taking me up short, What? Dost thou betake thyself to wishing rather than doing? It is spoken fondly, and as the common sort of men uses. For it cannot be that as fables make mention how Caenus with a wish was transformed from a woman into a man, so thou shouldst of a fool be suddenly made wise, and of a light person, become constant with wishing. Thou must bestow thy labor withal and, as the saying is, join hands with heart. Seek, read, learn. I know, Langius, said I, that I must do so, but I pray you set too your helping hand and proceed forward in your yesterday's talk that was interrupted by going to supper. Return again to constancy, the ceremonies of whose honor having been begun to be celebrated, may not be discontinued without sacrilege.
Langius shaking his head a little, No, Lipsius, quoth he, I will not do it, lest I shut up myself again in this schoolhouse. This is no place fit for our purpose, which thou knowest well I made for mine ease, not for my pais; we will at some other time prosecute that argument. Nay, even now, quoth I, for what place is more meet for such wise communication than that your school of wisdom? I mean your fair, summer house, which to me is, as it were, a temple, and the table therein in stead of an altar where sitting we may rightly sacrifice to this saint [holy object, i.e., wisdom]. And again I have a guess of good luck therehence. What is that, said Langius. That even as they which sit in apothecaries' shops carry with them some savor of the place; so I have good hope that some scent of wisdom will stick in my mind by residing in her study. Langius laughing, I fear me, said he, your conjecture is so light that it will weight just nothing. Yet let us go thither, Lipsius, for I tell thee without dissimulation this honest desire of thine somewhat moves and provokes me. And as they that search for water-springs, when they perceive in the morning a steam arising out of the earth, do make conjecture that waters lie there underneath, so I have great good hope of the fruitful streams of virtue; when I see and behold in a young man an earnest desire of learning. And with those words he brought me to his bower-house and into it; he set him down at the table. I turning me to the boys that were there, Ho sirs, quoth I, stand you and keep watch. And first of all, lock the door. And hear ye me? If anybody come in hither to us alive, you shall for it. I will have neither man nor dog nor woman to be let in; no, not good fortune herself if she come. Then Langius laughing outright said, have you at any time been a viceroy, your mandates are so majestical and severe. I vvis [?], quoth I, it behooves me to beware by the hard warning we had yesternight. Hold you on your talk in God's name.
Langius not meditating long began thus. In the communication that I had yesterday of constancy, I will constantly persevere; following those same methods and containing my tongue within the bounds which I before prescribed. You know that I had four bands or troops of soldiers to fight for constancy against your sorrow and despair of courage, whereof I have trained into the field the two former, which were of Providence and Necessity. And I proved sufficiently that public calamities were sent from God alone. Also that they were necessary and by no flying away to be avoided. Now I set forward my third troop under the leading of PROFIT [i.e., advantage or self- interest--J.G.], wherein serves the legion which I may well term AIDING. A valiant and politic troop it is, if you mark it well. For I know not how it creeps softly and insinuates itself into the minds of men, and with a kind of flattering force overcomes them willingly. It steals rather than rushes upon us, entices not enforces; and we are as easily led by profit as drawn by necessity. This profit, Lipsius, I oppose against thee and thy weak bands.
I say these public calamities which we suffer are profitable unto us accompanied with an inward fruit and commodity. Do we call them evils? Nay rather they are good if we pluck aside the veil of opinions and cast our eyes to the beginning and end of them; whereof the one is from God, the other for good. The original of these miseries, as I proved plainly yesterday, is of God. That is, not only of the chiefest good, but also of the author, head and fountain of all goodness; from whom it is as impossible than any evil should proceed, as it is for himself to be evil. The divine power is bountiful and healthful, refusing to do or receive harm, whose chief virtue is to do good. Therefore the ancients, though they were void of the knowledge of God, yet having some conceit of him in their brain, called him "Iuppiter a iuvando," that is, of helping; dost thou imagine that he is angry, or choleric, and casts as it were those noisome darts among men? Thou art deceived. Anger, wrath, revenge are names of human affections; and proceeding from a natural frailty and weakness, are incident only to weaklings. But that divine spirit does still persevere in his bounty, and those same bitter pills which he ministers to us as medicines, thou sharp in taste, yet are they wholesome in operation. Well was it said by that prince of philosophers [Plato, as the marginal note explains], God does no evil, neither is the cause of any. Better and more significantly spake our wise master [Seneca, as the marginal note explains]
What is the cause that God does good? His own nature. He is deceived whosoever thinks that God can or will do hurt. He can neither suffer nor do wrong. The first worship of God is to believe him, then to attribute to him his majesty, to know that it is he which is governor of the world, that rules all things as his own, that takes upon him the tuition [protection or instruction] of all mankind, yea more carefully, of every particular person. He neither does evil to others nor has any in himself.
Therefore, these calamities are good in respect of their beginning; and likewise in regard of their end, because they are ever directed to good and safety (surely in good men). Thou wilt object and say, how can this be? Is it not evident that these wars and slaughters are committed with an intent to harm and hurt? It is true so, in respect of men, but not in respect of God; which that thou mayest more plainly and fully conceive I must apply the light of a distinction. There be two sorts of calamities sent from God, some simple, some mixed. The first I call those which proceed purely from God without any interposition of man's policy or force [later philosophers of religion will call these "natural evils"--JG]. The second, which are of God yet wrought by the ministry of men [later philosophers will call these, especially insofar as they involve human agency, "moral evils"]. Of the former kind are famine, dearth, earthquakes, openings of the earth, overflowings of waters, sickness, death. Of the latter are tyranny, war, oppression, slaughters. In those first all things are pure and without spot, as springing from a most pure fountain. In the latter I deny not but there is some filth and mixed, because they are conveyed and derived through the foul conducts of affections [it is classic Stoic doctrine that the passions or violent feelings are evils, since they are contrary to reason and involve--indeed are equivalent to--(some) false judgments]. Is man a mean for effecting them? What marvel then is it if there be a fault and offence committed in accomplishing them? Marvel thou more at the provident goodness of God who converts that fault to our furtherance and the offence to our good. Seest thou a tyrant breaking out threatenings and murders; whose delight is in doing harm? Who could be content to perish himself so that he may persecute others? Let him alone; he strays from his right mind. And God, as it were, by an invisible string leads him to his destruction. As an arrow comes to the mark without any feeling of him that shot it; so do these wicked ones. For that supreme power bridles and keeps under [control] all men's power, and directs their straying course to the happy haven. As in an army the soldiers have sundry affections, one fighting for praie [?], another for praise, another for hatred, yet they all in their princes quarrel and for the victory; so all men's will be they good or bad, fight under God, and among sundry and manifold ends, at length they come all to this end of ends, as I may say.
But thou wilt demand why God uses the means of evil men? Why does he not inflict those grievous punishments immediately himself, or else by the ministry of good men? O man, thou art too curious in inquiring; neither do I know whether it lie in my power to open these secrets unto thee. This I know well, that he has reason of his doings, even then when we are furthest off from perceiving any. And yet what strange or new thing is this? The President of a province commands an offender to be punished by the laws, yet the punisher to be some beadle or sergeant. The father of a great family sometimes corrects his son himself, otherwhiles he commands a servant or schoolmaster to do it. Why should we not grant unto God so much authority as to them? Why shall not he when it pleases him scourge us with his own hand, and again when it seems good to him, by the means of others? For therein is no wrong or injury. Is the servant that punishes thee angry with thee? Has he an intent to do thee harm? It makes no matter, have thou respect to the mind of him that commanded. For thy Father who required it, stands by, and he will not suffer thee to have one stripe more than his own appointment.
But why is sin mixed here withal, and the poison of passions fasted to these divine darts? Thou drivest me now to a steep mountain, yet I will assay to climb up. God, to the end he might show forth his wisdom and great power, "hath thought it better to make good of evil, than to permit not evil at all" (the words be Augustine's); for what is wiser or better than he which can gather good from those evil, and turn things to health and safety, that were devised to destruction? We praise the physician that compounds the venomous viper with this treacle to work a wholesome effect; why wilt thou control God if to these healthful dregs of calamities and afflictions, he add some faults of men without any offence to thee? For surely he boils away and consumes to nothing that poison adjoined, with the secret purging fire of his providence. Finally it makes for the advancement of his power and glory, whereto he refers all things necessarily. For what is more able to express his mighty power, than that he does not only vanquish his enemies that withstand him, but so overrules them that he draws them to his party? That they fight in his quarrel? And bear arms for his victory? Which thing daily comes to pass, when God's will is performed in the wicked, but not of the wicked. When those things which ungodly men do against his will, he turns them so that they come not to pass without his will. And what stranger miracle can there be, "than that wicked mens should make them good that were evil before" [marginal note: the words of Severinus Boethius in his book of comfort; the reference is to Boethius' De consolatione philosophiae].
Behold, thou C. Caesar shalt help a little to our purpose. Go thy way and tread under foot two things religiously to be esteemed, to wit, thy country and son-in-law; this they ambition (unawares to thee) shall do service to God, and to thy country, against which it aspired; for it shall be the restoring and preserving of the Roman state. Thou Attila thirsting after blood and booty, hast[en] thee thither from the uttermost ends of the earth; take to thee by strong hand, slay, burn and waste; this they cruelty shall fight for God, and do nothing else but stir up the Christians which were drowned and buried in vain delights and pleasures. What you ye two Vespasians [Vespasian and his son Titus]? Destroy the country of Jewry and the people; take and sack the holy city. To what end: you verily do it for your glory and the augmentation of your empire; but ye err. Ye are only the beadles and sergeants of God's severe punishments upon that ungodly nation. Go to, even you, peradventure, that put the Christians to death at Rome, revenge the death of Christ in Jewry. [I cannot avoid noting that this passage reflects a frequent anti-Semitic prejudice associated with traditional Christianity--JG]
And now, O thou that art our president [ruler, presumably the Spanish monarch], whether it be from West or East, what intends thou by this war and bloody weapons? Even to strengthen the empery [imperium, authority?] of thy kingdom, and the power of thy own nation, for thou art nothing else but a whip and a scourge of the wonton and lascivious Flemings--we know not how to concoct our great felicities without the help of these Neronian hot baths. These examples are occurrent in all ages, where we see that God by the wicked lusts of some men has accomplished his own good pleasure; and by the injustice of other men has executed his just judgments wherefore, Lipsius, let us admire this hidden force of his wisdom, and not aspire to know it; and let us be assured that all these great afflictions are to good end and purpose; although this blind mind of ours perceive it not, or slowly attain to the understanding thereof. For the true ends of afflictions are often hid from us, which notwithstanding shall have their due course though to us unknown; not unlike to certain rivers, which being removed from our sight, and running under the ground, are yet carried into their own sea.
But if it be lawful for me to hoist sails and carry my ship deeper into this sea of divine matters, I could (happily) speak somewhat of the ends themselves more plainly and more profoundly: first adding that saying of Homer: if it lie in my power, or if the thing itself will admit the same. For there be some of those ends which it seems I can well enough conceive myself and make known to others; some also there be which I perceive doubtfully and with a confused sight. Of the first kind of ends which are certain, be these three. Exercising, Chastising, Punishment. For if thou mark it well thou shalt find that these grievous afflictions sent of God do common either exercise the good, chastise offenders, or punish the wicked; and all this for our good. And to stand a while upon explaining the first branch, we see daily the best sort of men to be subject to calamities either privately or else to be partakers thereof with the wicked: we mark and marvel thereat because we neither sufficiently conceive the cause, nor consider the consequence thereof. The cause is God's love toward us, and not hatred. The end or consequence, not our hurt but our benefit. For this our exercising furthers us more ways than one; it confirms or strengths us, it tries or proves ["prove" can mean "test"] us; it makes us mirrors of patience unto others.
It does strengthen us, for that the same is, as it were, our schoolhouse wherein God trains up his servants in constancy and virtue. We see those that exercise the fears of wrestling or barriers endure many hard trials, that they may get the mastery; so think that we ought to do in this warfare of adversity. For why? That same our trainer and master of the game is such a one as requires patience and pains, not only unto sweating but even unto bleeding. Thinks thou that he will handle his scholars tenderly? That he will dandle them with delights upon his knew? No, he will not do so. Mothers for the most [part] do corrupt their children, and make them wantons with tender bringing up: but their fathers hold them in awe with more severity. God is our father, therefore he loves us truly, yet with severity. If thou wilt be a mariner, thou must be taught in tempests. If a soldier, in perils. If thou be a man indeed, why refusest thou afflictions? Seeing there is none other way to constancy. Does thou consider those lither and lazy bodies upon whom the Sun seldom shines, or the wind blows, or any sharp air breathes? Even such are the minds of these nice folk that feel nothing but felicity, whom the least blast of adverse fortune blows down and resolves into naught. Therefore, adversity does confirm and strengthen us. And as trees that be much beaten with the wind take deeper root, so good men are the better contained within the compass of virtue, being sometimes assaulted with the storms of adversity.
They do moreover prove and try us. Else how could any man be assured of his own proceeding and firmness in virtue? If the wind blow always merrily astern, the pilot shall have no opportunity to try his cunning. If all things succeed prosperously and happily to a man, there is no place to make proof of his virtue; for the only true level to try withal is affliction; Demetrius said worthily, "I account nothing more unfortunate than that man which never had feeling of adversity." Very true it is. For our General does not spare such soldiers, but mistrusts them, neither does he affect and love but despise and contemn them. I say he does cashier them out of his company as base Besonians [anyone know what a Besonian is?--JG] and dastards.
Finally, they serve instead of mirrors or presidents [precedents?]. For that the constancy and patience of good men is miseries is as a clear light to this obscure world. They provoke others thereunto by their example, and tread the path wherein they should walk. Bias lost both his goods and country, but his words sound in the ears of men at this day: that they share carry all them goods about them [omnia mea mecum porto, according to the marginal note]. Regulus was unworthily put to death by torments, but his worthy example of keeping [his] promise lives yet. Papianus was murdered by a tyrant, but the same butcherly axe that cut off his head emboldens us to suffer death for justice['s] sake. Finally, so many notable citizens we see to be violently and injuriously either banished or murdered; but out of the rivers of their blood we do, as it were, drink virtue and constancy every day: all which things should lie hid in dark corners of oblivion were it not for the bright firebrands of these common afflictions and calamities. For as costly spices do give a sweet savor far off, if they be bruised; even so the fame of virtue is spread abroad when it is pressed with adversity.
Another end why God sends afflictions is for our chastisement; which I say is the best and gentlest that may be for our amendment. It helps and heals us two manner of ways--either as a whip when we have offended; or as a bridle to hold us back from offending. As a whip, because it is our father's hand that does often scourge us when we do amiss; but it is a butcherly fist that strikes seldom, and then pays home for all at once. As fire or water are used to purge filth, so is this purgatory of persecutions to our sins. This whip, Lipsius, is not worthily bestowed upon us. We Flemings have of a long time fallen in the lapse, and being corrupted with delights and excess of wealth, we have wandered in the slippery paths of viciousness. But that great God admonishes and gently reclaims us, giving us a few stripes, that being warned thereby we may come again to ourselves, yea rather to him. He has taken from us our goods, which we abused to licentiously. And so with this gentle correction of calamities, he does, as it were, purge and wash away our wickedness. A right gentle correction it is. For alas, what a slender satisfaction may we call it? It is said that when the Persians would punish any nobleman, they took away his garments and hood, and hanging those up, did beat them instead of the man; even so does this our father, who in all his chastisements touches not us but our bodies, our fields, our wealth, and all external things.
Likewise chastisement serves as a bridle, which he reins fitly when he sees us running to wickedness. As physicians do sometimes upon good advise [judgment] let blood, not that the party is sick but to prevent sickness; so God by these afflictions takes away something from us, which else would foster and nourish vices in us. For he who created all men knows their nature. He judges not of the diseases by the veins or color, but by the very heart and inwards. Does he see the Tuscan wits to be sharp and waspish? He keeps them under with a prince. Does he see the Switzers [Swiss] to be of disposition peaceable and quiet? He gives them liberty. The Venetians to be of a mean between both? He permits to them a mixed or mean kind of government. All which peradventure he will change in time, if those people alter their dispositions. Yet notwithstanding we murmur, saying, "Why are we longer afflicted with war than others?" Or "why are we held in more cruel bondage?" O fool, and sick at the very heart! Art thou wiser than God? Tell me, why does the physician administer to one patient more wormwood or lingwort than to another? Forsooth because the disease or disposition of the party so requires. Even so think thou of thyself. He sees this people haply [for example] to be somewhat stubborn and therefore that they must be kept under with corrections; another nation more meek that may be brought under obedience only with shaking of the rod. But it may be that unto thee it seems otherwise. What makes that to the matter? Parents will not suffer knives or weapons in the hands of their child, though he weep for it, because they foresee the danger; why should God give us too much of our will to our own destruction? Sith indeed we be very babes, and know not how to ask things that be for our health, nor to avoid that [which] is hurtful. Notwithstanding, if needs thou wilt, weep thy fill; yet shalt thou drink of the cup of afflictions which that heavenly physician offers thee full to the brim, not without good advise [judgment].
But punishment I confess belongs to evil men, and yet is not it evil. For first it is good we have respect unto God, whose eternal and inviolable law of justice requires men's faults be either cured or cut off. Now, chastisement reforms those that may be amended; punishment cuts away the incurable. It is good again in regard of men, among whom no society can stand or continue of busy and ungodly wits may practice what they please uncontrolled. And as it is expedient for the security of each private person to have execution done upon a particular thief or murderer, so is it behoveful [appropriate] in general, that the like justice be shown upon notorious public malefactors. These punishments upon tyrants and spoilers of the whole world must necessarily be inflicted sometimes that they may be mirrors to admonish us.
Learn justice now by this, and God above despise no more.
Thirdly, punishment is good in respect of those that be punished; for it is not properly vengeance or revenge, neither does the gentle deity "punish rigorously in rage" as a wicked poet said it well; but it is only a prohibition and restraint from wickedness. And as the Grecians significantly do express it: chastisement not revengement. As death is many times sent to good men before they fall into a grievous sin; so it happens to those that do desperately wicked in the midst of the ungodliness, which they do love so much [that] they cannot be drawn from it except they be clean cut off. Therefore God stops us of our unruly course, gently taking away offenders and such as are running into sin. To conclude, all punishment is good, in respect of justice; as impunity or lack of due correction is evil, which suffers men to live till they be more and more wicked, that is, miserable. Boethius spake wittily, "The wicked that abide some punishment are happier than if no rod of justice did correct them." And he yields a reason, because some good befalls them (to wit, correction) which they had not afore in the catalogue of their faults.
The three ends aforesaid, Lipsius, are certain and evident, which I have passed over with sure footing. The fourth remains, wherein I waver, for the same is more secret and farther removed than that the capacity of man's reason can attain unto it. I see it only through a cloud, and I may conceive thereat, but not know it; wander towards but not to it. This end which I speak of is general, and respects either the conservation of the whole world, or the ornament thereof. And touching the conservation I do therefore conjecture, because that same great God which has wisely created and ordered all these things, so made them as that he has disposed them all in measure, number, and weight, neither is it lawful for anything in [its] kind to surpass that mean, without the overthrow and ruin of the whole. Even so those great bodies, the heaven, the sea, and earth have their bounds. So every age has its prescribed number of living creatures. Likewise is it in men, towns, and regions: will any of these exceed their bounds? Then of necessity some whirlwind and tempest of misfortune must consume them, or else they would hurt and deface the beautiful frame of the world. But it is apparent that they do often strive to exceed their number, especially those creatures that by nature do engender and increase. Behold men, w ho can deny that by nature we spring up a great deal more than die? So that two men do sometimes within the space of a few years procreate a hundred out of their bodies, of whom ten or twenty do not die. Herds of cattle also would increase without number if butchers did not choose and cull out yearly certain of them for the shambles. Likewise birds and fishes would in a short space pester the air and the waters were it not for fight and war among themselves, as also deceipts practiced against them by men. In every age cities and towns are built, and if burnings or other destructions happened not, [neither] our world nor scarce another would contain them. And so in concept thou mayest pass through the nature of all things. Therefore, is it any marvel, if that old father of the family thrust in his sickle into this rank field, and cut off some superfluous thousands with pestilence or war? If he did not so, what country were able to contain us? What land could afford us nourishment? Therefore in God's name let some parts perish, that the whole perfection of all may be perpetual. For even as unto governors of commonwealths, the safeguard of the people is the highest law, so is the world to God.
And concerning the beauty or ornament of the world, my conjecture is two fold. First, for that I can conceive no trimness in this huge engine without a different change and variety of things. I know that the sun is most beautiful; yet the dewy night, and the mantle of the black dame put between, makes him to appear more gracious. The summer is most pleasant, yet the winter makes it more lovely with her icy marble and white snow. Which things if you take away, in truth you deprive us of the inward delight and feeling both of sun and summer. In this our earth, one uniform fashion pleasant me not, but I take pleasure to behold the champion country and mountains, valleys and rocks, fields tilled and sea sands, meadows and woods. Satiety and loathsomeness is ever a companion of uniformity or likeness. And upon this stage of my life, why should one fashion of attire and gesture content me? No, it shall not. But, in my mind, let there be times of great quietness, and therein some naughtiness, which soon after tumults of war and the rage of cruel tyrants may take away. Who would wish this world to be like a dead sea, without wind or waves?
But I perceive moreover another kind of ornament, of more account and inward profit. Histories do teach me that all things become better and quieter after the storms of adversities. Does war vex any nation? The same also quicken them, and most commonly bring in arts, together with other things, that do diversely adorn their wits. The Romans in time past imposed a grievous yoke upon the neck of the whole world, but yet a yoke that proved wholesome in the end, whereby barbarism was expelled from our minds, as the sun drives away darkness from our eyes. What had the Frenchmen, we ourselves, and the Germans been at this day if the light of that mighty empire had not shined upon us? Fierce, uncivil, delighting in slaughters betwixt ourselves and others, contemners of God and men. Even so, I guess, it will come to pass with the new world which the Spaniards have wasted with a profitable severity, and themselves will shortly replenish again with people and inhabit it. And as they which have great nurseries for plants do remove some, set others, and cut off [yet] others , ordering them with skill for their own good and benefit; even so does God in this wide field of the world. For he is a most skillful husbandman, and [at] one [time] he breaks off some waste branches of families, another [time] he crops and cuts away a few leaves of particular men This helps the stock of the tree, albeit those branches perish, and those leaves are blown away with the wind. Again he sees this nation very bare and barren of virtues; he casts it out. Another rough and unfruitful: he removes it. Yea, and some he confounds among themselves and by grafting make as it were a medley of them. You Italians wax feeble and effeminate in the declining of your empire, who do you hold the best country of the world? Give place. Let the stern and sturdy L[o]mbards manure with more happiness this soil. You wicked and wanton Grecians, perish ye utterly; and let those cruel Scythians be set led and wax mild in your country. And moreover with a certain confusion of nations you French men possess Gaul; you Saxons Britannia; you Normans seize upon Belgica and the territories bordering. All which matters, Lipsius, and many more are manifest out of histories and by the events of things, to any diligent reader.
Therefore let us lift up ourselves, and whatsoever damage we sustain privately, let us know that it does good in some part of the whole world. The rooting out of one nation or kingdom, is the raising up of another. The decay of one tower, the building of another. And nothing properly dies or perishes here, but alters. Are we Flemings alone in account and estimation before God? Alone continually happy and [F]ortune's white sons? O fools! That great grandam [Lipsius personifies Fortune, as Boethius did in On the Consolation of Philosophy] has more children whom we must be contented that she cherish and lull in her lap one after another, because she either cannot or will not dally with them all at once. The sun has shined with his bright beams a long time upon us. Now let it be night with us awhile, and let the glittering light illuminate the Spaniards and farthest western parts. Seneca, after his manner, says fitly and profound to this purpose:
A wise man should not take in ill part whatsoever happens unto him; but let him know that those [very] things which seem to annoy him  belong to the preservation of the whole world, and are of the number of those things that do consummate the course and office of the whole.
[In chapter 12 Langius in effect accuses Lipsius of hubris for his further pursuit of a solution to the theological problem of evil; a move which is perhaps more reflective of medieval heresy- hunters than of classical Stoic philosophers.]
Here whiles Langius paused a little, I spake thus: As a fair water spring to travelers in summer, so is your talk to me. It cherishes, refreshes, and with a cooling kind of moisture qualifies my fever and fervent heat. But yet it qualifies, not quenches the same. There sticks a thorn in my mind (which also pricked the ancients) touching equality of punishments. For what, Langius, [is] that equal balance of justice if this sword of affliction
Doth oftentimes let wicked men go free And slay such folk as good and harmless be
Why, I say, are some innocent people rooted out and the children and posterity afflicted for the faults of their ancestors? This is a thick mist in my eyes, which, if you can, disperse with the bright beams of reason. Langius, with a wrinkled forehead, yea younker, quoth he, are you so soon gone astray again? I will none of that. For as a skillful huntsman suffer not their hound to range but to follow one and the same deer, so would I have thee to tread only in those footsteps which I have traced out unto thee. I would beat into thy brain the ends of afflictions to the intent that if thou be good, thou mayest think thyself to be exercised; if fallen, to be lifted up; if utterly naught, to be punished. And now thou drawest me to the causes. Wandering mind!
What meanst thou by this curious carefulness? Wilt thou needst feel those celestial fires? They will melt thee like wax. Wilt thou climb up into the Tower of providence? Thou shalt soon fall down headlong. As butterflies, and other little flies do by night flutter so long about the candle, till it burn them, even so does man's mind dally about that secret flame.
Show me the causes, sayest thou, why the vengeance of God overskip some and whips others? Dost thou seek the causes? I may safely say that I know them not. For the heavenly court never comprehended [included] me, nor I [understood] the decrees there of. Of this only am I assured, that God's will is a cause above all causes, beyond which, who so seeks another, is ignorant of the efficacy and power of the divine nature. For it is necessary that every cause be in a sort, before and greater than [its] effect but nothing is before nor greater than God and his will, therefore there is no cause thereof. God has pardoned; God has punished; what wilt thou have more? The will of God is the chief justice, as Salvianus says well and godly. Yet ye say, we require a reason of this inequality. Of whom? Of God? To whom that is lawful whatsoever him likes; and nothing likes him but that which is lawful. If the servant call his master or the subject [call] his Sovereign to account, the one may take it in contempt and the other as treason. And art thou more bold with God? Fie upon such perverse curiosity. "This reason cannot stand otherwise than if it be rendered to no man." [The marginal note indicates that this was "wittily spoken by Sallust, and applied to Tiberius in the high empire. Tacitus 1 Annals."] And yet when thou hast done all that thou art able, thou shalt not clear thyself out of the dark mists of ignorance, nor be partaker of those mere mystical counsels and decrees. It is excellently spoken by Sophocles,
Thou shalt never attain to the knowledge of heavenly things if God conceals them; nor of them all though thou bestowe thy labor ever therein.
This plain and broad way, Lipsius, is only safe here: all others be deceivable and slippery. In divine and heavenly matters, it is the sharpest sight to see nought; and the only knowledge is to know nothing. Yet because this cloud hat of old time, and now doth compass men's wits, I will wind thee out of it shortly, if I can. And will wash away that that sticks by thee, with this river here at hand. O thou celestial and eternal spirit (therewith he cast he eyes on high) pardon and forgive me if in these profound mysteries I utter anything impure or ungodly, yet with a godly intent. And first I may generally defend the justice of God with his [its?] own blow. If God behold the affairs of men, he has care of them; if he have care, he governs them; if he govern, he does it with judgment; if with judgment, how can it be without justice? Which if it be wanting there is no regiment nor government at all, but disorder, confusion and trouble. What hast thou to oppose against this weapon? What shield or armor? Say the truth, only man's ignorance. I understand not, sayest thou, why these should be punished, and those not. Well said. Wilt thou therefore join impudence to thy ignorance? And because thou comprehendest not the power of the divine and pure law, wilt thou carp at it? What more unjust reason would be allege against justice if some stranger should utter his conjectures of the laws and ordinances of thy country, thou wouldst bid him hold his tongue and be gone, because he has not the knowledge of them. And does thou, an inhabitant of this earth rashly condemn the unknown laws of heaven? Thou creature, thy creator? Yet go to, take thy pleasure, I will close nearer with thee, searching distinctly the thick mists of these thy cavils by the clear sun of reason, as thou requirest. Thou objectest three things, that God lets offenders escape; that he punishes innocents; that he puts over and transfers his punishments from one to another. I will begin with the first.
Thou sayest that the vengeance of God does not well to overpass the wicked. Yea, does it overpass them? No, I think rather it forbears them only for a time. If I have great debts owing me, and if it please me to exact my due of one debtor presently and to bear with another for a longer time, who can blame me? For it is at my own good will and pleasure. Even [so] doth that great God; of whom whereas all naughty men have deserved punishment, he exacts it of some presently, and bears with others to be paid afterwards with interest. What unrighteousness is here, except it be so that thou take thought for God, and fear lest he be indemnified by this his boutiful forbearance. But alas silly man! Thou art more afraid than hurt. Never shall any man deceive this great creditor. Whither soever we fly, we are all in his sight, yea in bonds and fetters to him But thou sayest, I would have such a tyrant to be presently punished, that by his death at this time, satisfaction may be made to so many whom he has oppressed; so shall the justice of God be made more manifest unto us. Nay, thou bewrayest hereby thy blockishness. For who art thou that dost not only appoint God how, but also prescribe him when to punish? Thinkest thou that he is thy judge, or only a sergeant or under-officer? Go, lead him hence, whip him, muffle his face, hang him upon a cursed tree, for so it seems good in my eyes. Fie upon this impudency. Unto God it seems otherwise, whom thou must understand to see much better in this case than thyself, and to have another end in punishing. Thou art provoked with choler, and carried away with desire of revenge. He being far from both these, has respect to the ensemble and correction of others. He also knows best to whom the same may do good and when. The moments oftimes are of great weight, and the most wholesome medicine if often turned to the destruction of the diseased, not being applied in due season. God cut off Caligula in the prime of his tyranny. He suffered Nero to run on farther; and Tiberius farthest of all. And doubt thou not but it was for the good of those that then murmured at it. Our evil and disordered manners have need of a continual scourge, but we would have it taken from us at the first, and cast into the fire. This is one cause of forebearance, which respects us [i.e., has us in mind].
Another there is in respect of God, unto whom it seems peculiar. To proceed slowly in revenge of himself, and to quit [compensate for] that slackness with the grievousness of the punishment. Well spake Sinesius, The divine nature proceeds leisurely and orderly. And the old sages went not much awry, who in t his respect feined God to have woolen feet so that albeit thou be a hasty man and given to revenge, thou oughtst not to be grieved at this forbearance which is such a delay of the punishment, as it is withal an increasing of the same. Tell me, in beholding a tragedy, will it stomach thee to see Atreus or Thyestes in the first or second act walking in state and majesty upon the scene? To see them reign, threat, and command? I think not, knowing their prosperity to be of small continuance; and when thou shalt see them shamefully come to confusion in the last act. Now then in this tragedy of the world, why art not thou so favorable toward God as to a poor poet? This wicked man prospers. That tyrant lives. Let be awhile. Remember it is but the first act, and consider aforehand in thy mind, that sobs and sorrows will ensue upon their solace. This scene will anon swim in blood, then these purple and golden garments shall be rolled therein. For that poet of ours is singular cunning in his art, and will not lightly transgress the laws of his tragedy. In music, do we not allow sometimes disagreeing sounds, knowing that they will all close in consent? But the parties injured do not always see the punishment. What marvel is that? The tragedy commonly is tedious, and they are not able to sit so long in the theater; yet others do see it, and are worthily stricken with fear when they perceive that some are repri[e]ved before this severe throne of justice, but not pardoned. And that the day of execution is prolonged [postponed?], not wholly taken away. Wherefore, Lipsius, hold this for certain, that ungodly men are forborne awhile, but never forgiven; and that no man has a sin in his heart but that man carry Nemesis on his back. For that Fury follows them always, and as I may say with Euripides, "going silently and with a soft foot, she will in due time violently pluck the wicked from off the earth."
Yet to make thee conceive these things the better, and that I may lead thee at length into the chief bulwark of this argument; thou must under that there be three sundry sorts of God's punishments; internal, after this life, external. The first I call those that vex the mind or soul yet coupled to the body; as sorrow, repentance, fear, and a thousand gnawings of conscience. The second sort are such as touch the same soul being free and loosed from the body; as be those punishments which most of the old heathen writers did (not without reason) conjecture were reserved for ungodly men after this life. The third which touch the body, or are about the same, as poverty, banishment, griefs, diseases, death. And it comes to pass oftentimes that all these, by the just judgment of God, do fall upon the wicked. But certainly the two former kinds do always follow them. And to speak of internal punishments, what man was there at any time so given over the work wickedness but that he felt in his mind sharp scourges, and as it were heavy strokes either in committing mischievous deeds, or else after the facts committed? For Plato said truly, That punishment is the companion of injustice. Or as Hesiod more plainly and forcibly expresses the matter, It is coeternal and coequal with it. The punishment of wickedness is kin to every wicked act, yea bred in it; neither is anything free and out of care in this life but innocence. As malefactors among the Romans that were condemned to be crucified did bear their cross, which soon after should bear them; so has God laid this cross of conscience upon all ungodly men, whereby they may suffer pains afore they come to execution. Doste thou think there is none other punishment but that which is objected to [placed before] our eyes? Or that which is inflicted upon the body? It is far otherwise. All such are external, and do lightly for a short time only touch us; but those that be inward torment us. As we judge them to be more sick which pine away with a consumption, then they that have an inflammation or fever, and yet these last have the greatest appearance; even so be those wicked men in worst case, which are led to everlasting death with a lingering pace. Caligula ruling with great tyranny, would be so stricken on a sudden as though he should die; so fares it with those wickedlinges [wicked persons?] when that butcher (their own mind) pricks and beats continually with soft strokes.
Let not the gorgeous outward appearance beguile thee, nor the puissant pomp wherewith they are environed, or their abundance of wealth. For they are not the happier nor in any better case thereby, no more than a sick man whose ague or gout lies upon a stately feather bed. When thou seest a poor beggarly fellow playing a king's part on a stage, adorned with golden robes, thou envyest him not, knowing that under the same gorgeous attire are scabs, filth, and uncleanness;have thou the very same opinion of all these great proud tyrants, "whose minds if they might be opened," says Tacitus, "we should behold rentings and strokes; sith that even as the body with stripes, so is the mind torn in pieces with cruelty, lust, and evil cogitations." I know that they laugh sometimes, but it is only from the teeth outward. They rejoice, but with no true joy. No more certainly than they [who], being in a dungeon condemned to die, do seek to beguile themselves with playing at dice or tables and yet cannot. For the deep imprinted terror of punishment at hand remains, and the image of grisly death never departs from before their eyes. I pray thee draw back this curtain of external things, and behold that Sicilian tyrant
Over whose wicked head a naked swordListen to that Roman emperor lamentably crying out "All the gods and goddesses send me a worse destruction than that I feel a daily dying in me." Hear another of them sighing from the heart, and saying, "What? Am I the only man that have neither friend nor foe?" These are the true torments of the mind. Lipsius, these be gripping griefs indeed, always to be vexed, sorrowful, terrified. Beware thou compare not any tortures, racks, or iron instruments unto these.
Does always hang
Join moreover hereto those everlasting pains after this life, which it suffices me only to point at out of the midst of divinity (theological works), without further unfolding of them. Add also external punishments, which if the be wanting, yet inasmuch as the former never are omitted, who can rightly blame the justice of God? But I say that those first are not lacking. And never, or surely very seldom doth it happen, but that notorious evil persons and such as oppress others, do suffer open and public pains. Some of them sooner, some later; some in themselves, and some in their posterity. Thou markest and murmurest that the Sicilian tyrant Dionysus doth for many years together commit adulteries, rapines, murders, without controlment. Have patience a little while, thou shalt see him shortly infamous, a banished man, beggarly, and (a matter scarce[ly] credible) thrust down from the scepter, to the ferruler. The same king of a great island shall set up a school at Corinth, himself being indeed a very scoff to fortune. On the other side, does it grieve thee that Pompey should be overthrown in Pharsalia, and his army almost consisting of Senators? That the tyrant should take his pleasure and pastime whiles in the blood of citizens? I blame thee not much, considering that Cato himself here lost the helm of sound judgment, and from his heart uttered this doubtful voice, "Divine matters are full of obscurity." Notwithstanding thou Lipsius, thou Cato, cast your eyes a little aside, you shall see one thing that will bring you unto good liking with God again. Behold that Caesar, stately, a conqueror, in his own and some other folks' opinion, a very god; slain in and of the Senate. And that not with one simple death, but wounded with three and twenty several thrusts, and rolling in his own blood like a beast. And (what more could you wish?) this was done even in the court of Pompey, the image of Pompey standing there on high, celebrating a great sacrifice to the ghost of that great one [marginal note explains: Pompey "was surnamed" Magnus]. Even so Brutus losing his life in the Philippian fields for his country, and with his country, moves me to compassion. But I am recomforted when I see not only after those conquering armies (as it were) before his tomb falling together by the ears between themselves, and master Antonius [Mark Antony] one of the chieftains [in the war with whom Brutus lost his life] overcome both by sea and land, among three silly women hardly finding death with that womanish hand. Where art thou now that was of late lord of all the east? Leader of the Roman armies? Persecutor of Pompey and the commonwealth? Lo thou hangest in a rope by thy bloody hand! Lo thou creepest into thy grave half alive! Lo dying thou canst not be withdrawn from her which was thy death! Mark whether Brutus uttered in vain those last words at his death, "O Jupiter, let not the author of this evil beguile thee." No more did he deceive or escape him. NO more did that other captain, who not obscurely suffered in himself the punishment of his youthful misdeeds. But yet more apparently in all his progeny. Let him by happy and might Caesar, and truly Augustus. But with all let him have a daughter Julia, and a niece; also some of his nephews let him lose by false accusations. Others let him banish out of his favor. And with loathsomeness of these let him wish to die with four days hunger, and not be able. Finally, let him live with his Livia, unhonestly married, unhonestly kept. And upon whom he doted with unlawful love, let him die a shameful death by her means. In conclusion, saith Pliny, "he being made a god and gaining heaven (but I wot not whether he deserved it) let him die, and the son of his enemy be his heir." These and such like things, Lipsius, are to be thought upon whensoever we begin to break forth into any complaints of unrighteousness in God. And we must always cast our minds to the consideration of two things, the slowness and the diversity of punishments. Is not such a man punished? Hold thee contented a little, he shall feel it ere long; if not in his body, yet assuredly in mind. If not whilst he lives, yet doubtless when he is dead.
Though vengeance come behind and her foot sore,For that same heavenly eye watches still, and when thou thinkst it sleeps soundly, it does but wink a little. Only see that thou bear thyself uprightly towards him; and do not vainly accuse thy judge by whom thyself must eftsoones be judged.
She overtakes the offender that goes before. (Seneca)
But thou sayest that guiltless and innocent people are punished. For this is thy second complain, or rather I may term it a slanderous accusation. Unadvised young man! So speakest thou? In what country may we find such countrymen as are without fault? It were great boldness, yea rashness to affirm that of any one man. And dost thou make no scruple quit whole peoples and nations of offence? Thou dost most foolishly. I know we have all sinned and daily do; we are born in uncleanness and in it we live.
[Comment: Thus Lipsius effortlessly substitutes the Christian doctrine of original sin for the analogous classical Stoic view that all but the wise man (who may well be a barely attainable ideal) are morally base.]
Insomuch that the storehouse of heaven (as I may say with the Satiric [writer]) would be without thunderbolts, if they were hurled continually upon all that do offend. For though fishes be engendered and nourished in the salt sea and themselves taste not of any saltiness; yet may we not think it to be so with us men, that we being born in this contagion of the world should ourselves be without corruption. Then if all be offenders, where are these harmless innocent people? For punishment is always most justly the companion of offence.
But wilt thou say, I mislike the inequality, that some folk having trespassed but a little are grievously corrected; and others notoriously naught, are suffered to flourish and have dominion. I see what the matter is. Belike thou wilt take the balance of justice out of God's hand, and wilt poise it after thine own fantasy and pleasure. To what else tends this thy valuation of greater or smaller offences, which thou assumest unto thee before God? But here, Lipsius, I would have thee consider two things; first that men cannot neither ought to take upon them the judging of other's faults. For how can it be that thou, silly man, shouldst weigh faults uprightly, which does not mark [see] them thoroughly? Canst thou give sentence justly of that which thou art not able to examine diligently? Thou wilt easily grant that it is the mind or soul which sins, by means of the body and the instruments of the senses, but yet so, that the whole weight and burden of sin rests upon it. This is so true, that if thou grant a man has committed ought against his will, then he has not therein sinned. If it be so, how art thou able to behold the offence, [thou who] seest not so much as the harbor and the seat thereof? And surely thou art so far from seeing another man's mind, that thou perceivest not thine own. Therefore this is great folly or temerity in arrogating to thyself the censuring and judgment of that thing which is not seen nor to be seen. Neither known nor able to be comprehended by any man's knowledge. [Lipsius' argument claims too much, as it would preclude any lawful judgment of moral wrong by, e.g., a court system.--JG]
Secondly, admit there be such inequality as thou speakest of; yet is there no harm nor wrong doe herein. No harm, in that it is for their good which are presently punished even for their least faults. Therein God loves us. And we ought greatly to misdoubt long forbearance, whichever brings with it more grievous pains. Again neither is there any wrong done thereby, because (as I said) we have all of us deserved punishment, and there is not in the best any such purity, but that some spots do stain them, which must be washing away with this salt water of adversities. Wherefore, young man, let pass this most intricate disputation of the estimating of faults and offences, thou being an earthly and very simple [naive?] judge. Refer it to God, who discerns more uprightly and soundly that matter from his high throne of justice. He alone it is that esteems indifferently of [renders judgment impartially concerning] defects; he, which without [any] fraud or daubing of dissimulation beholds virtue and vice in their proper hue. Who can deceive him who searches all outward and inward things alike, [who] sees both body and mind? The tongues and the very veins of the heart? Finally, all things whether open or secret? Who sees not only the deeds done, but even the causes and proceedings of them as clear as the noon light. Thales, being once demanded whether anyone that did commit wickedness could beguile God [responded] "no, nor if he do but imagine it only; so said he truly. But not it is otherwise with us being here in darkness, who not only do not see secret sins but also such as are done under the coat and skirts, as they say, no nor scarce those that be manifest and committed in the daylight. For we do not discern the fault itself and the whole force thereof but only some external signs of the same, when it is done and has turned the back to be gone again. We do oftentimes think them the best men whom God knows to be the worst; and we reject those whom he does elect; wherefore, if thou have wisdom, shut thine eyes and stop thy mouth from having anything to do touching the worthiness or unworthiness of men. Such hidden causes are hardly known for certain.
But now the third cloud brought into overshadow God's justice must be blown away. For some say that God does not deal uprightly in shifting over punishments from one to another. Neither is it well that the posterity should suffer pains for the faults of their predecessors. What? Is that such a rare or strange matter? Nay, rather I marvel why these men should marvel at that, seeing they do even the same here in this world. Tell me in good sooth, do not the rewards that Princes bestow upon the ancestors for their virtues remain and redound also to their posterity? Surely they do. And I think the like of revenge and punishment for their evil deservings. Behold in cases of treason against the state or person of a prince, some are apparently in the fault, and others do communicate with them in the punishment. Which thing is so far intended by man's security, as it is provided by laws that the innocent children should be punished with perpetual poverty; "so as death may seem a solace to them and life a scourge." Your minds are altogether malicious. You will permit that to some king or petty potentate, which you will not unto God, who notwithstanding if ye consider it well, has far greater reason of this severity. For we have transgressed and rebelled against this mighty king every one of us; and by many descents is that first blemish or stain derived to the unhappy children; such a chaining and linking together of offences there is before God. Neither was it my father or thine that first began to sin, but the father of all fathers. What marvel is it then if he punish in the posterity those faults which be no properly divers, but by certain communication of seed made joint, and never being discontinued.
But to let pass these high mysteries, and to deal with thee by a more familiar kind of reasoning; know this, that God joins together those things which we through frailty or ignorance do separate and put asunder; and that he beholds families, towns[,], kingdoms, not as this confuse[d] or distinguished but as one body and entire nature. The family of the Scipios or Caesars is but one whole thing to him. The city of Rome or Athens during all their time of their continuance, one. And there is good reason it should be so. For there is a certain bond of laws, and communion of rights that knits together these great bodies, which causes a participation of rewards and punishments to be betwixt those that have lived in diverse ages. Therefore, were the Scipios good men in times past? Their posterity shall speed the better for it before the heavenly judge. Were they evil? Let their posterity fare the worse. Have the Flemings not many years past been lascivious, covetous, godless? Let us smart for it. Because in all external punishments God does not only behold the time present, but also has respect to time past. And so by pondering of both these together, he poises evenly the balance of his justice. I said in all "external punishments," and I would have thee mark it well. For the faults of one man are not laid upon another, neither is there any confusion of offences. (God forbid that.) But these are only pains and chastisements about us, not in us. And properly do concern the body or goods but not our mind which is internal. And what injury at all is there herein? We will be heirs to our ancestors of commodities [comforts?] and rewards, if they deserve any. Why should we refuse their punishments and pains? "O Romans, ye shall suffer punishments for the offences of your predecessors, unworthily." So said the Roman poet, and he spake true, but only in that he added "unworthily." For it is most deservedly, because their forefathers had deserved it. But the poet saw the effect only, without lifting up his consideration to the cause. Notwithstanding as one and the self same man may lawfully abide punishment in his old age for some offence committed in his youth, even so in empires and kingdoms does God punish old sins because that in respect of outward communication and society, they are but one self thing before God. These distances oftimes do not separate us in his sight, who has all eternity enclosed in his infinite capacity. Did those Martial wolves [the Romans, according to a marginal note] in old time overthrow so many towns, and break in pieces so many scepters scot free? Have they sucked so much blood by slaughter, and themselves never lost their blood? Then I will surely confess that God is no revenger "Who both hears and sees whatsoever we do." But the case stands otherwise. For it cannot be but they must at length even in their posterity receive punishment, though slow, yet never too late.
Neither is there with God this conjunction and unity of times only, but of parts also. This is my meaning. That like as in man when the hands, the secret parts, and belly do transgress [marginal note: "by theft, lechery, and gluttony"], the whole body buys the bargain dearly; so in a common multitude the sin of a few is often required at the hands of all. Especially if the offenders be the worthiest members as kings, princes, and magistrates. Well said Hesiod, and out of the bowels of wisdom:
For one man's fault the city suffers pain,
When one commits sacrilege or wrong;
From heaven God makes tempests down to rain,
Or pestilence, or famishment among.
So the whole Greek navy perished for one man's offence, even the furious outrage of Ajax Oileus. Likewise in Jewry seventy thousand men were justly consumed with one plague, for the unlawful lust of the king [marginal note: "when David ambitiously numbered the people"]. Sometimes it falls out contrarily, that whereas all have sinned, God chooses out one or a few to be, as it were, a sacrifice for the common crime. Wherein although he decline a little from the straight level of equality, yet of this inequality a new kind of justice arises; and the same which in a few seems to be rigor, is a certain merciful righteousness towards many. Does not the schoolmaster's ferruler correct one among a multitude of loitering scholars? Does not a general in the wars punish his mutinous army by drawing the tenth man? And both these do it upon good advise, for that this punishment inflicted upon a few does terrify and amend all. I see physicians many times open a vein in the foot or arm when the whole body is distempered. What know I whether it be so in this case? For these matters be mysteries, Lipsius. They be very deep mysteries. If we be wise let us not come to nigh this sacred fire whose sparks and small flakes we men perchance may see, but not the thing itself. Even as they which fix their eyes too seriously upon the sun do lose them, so we extinguish all the light of our mind by beholding earnestly this light. My opinion, therefore, is that we ought to abstain from this curious question so full of danger [a subtle admission maybe that he has not proved his case convincingly!?--JG], and be resolved of this, that mortal men cannot rightfully judge of offences, nor ought not to attempt it. God has another manner of balance, and another tribunal seat of justice. And howsoever those secret judgments of his be executed, we must not accuse but suffer and reverence them. This one sentence I would have thee to be thoroughly persuaded of, wherewith I will shut up this matter and stop the mouths of all curious busybodies: The most part of God's judgments are secret, but none of them unrighteous.
This much, Lipsius, I had to say in defense of God justice against unjust accusers; which I confess was not altogether pertinent to my purpose, and yet not much besides it; because doubtless we shall the more willingly and indifferently bear these great public miseries when we are fully persuaded they be justly inflicted upon us. [Either that or we cease to personify the lawfulness of the universe--an option Lipsius apparently does not entertain--JG]
And here surceasing our communication awhiles, Langius suddenly broke out into these words; it is well, I have taken breath a little. And being now passed beyond all the dangerous rocks of difficult questions, it seems I may with full sails strike into the haven. I behold here at hand my fourth and last troop, which I intend willingly to bring into the field. And as mariners being in a tempest, when they see the two twins [marginal note: "Castor and Pollux, who where they appear both in a storm do betoken a calm nigh at hand"] appear together do receive great hope and comfort. So fares it with me, unto whom after many sturdy storms, this double legion has shown itself. Let me lawfully term it so, after the ancient manner, because it is forked or twofold. And by it I must manfully prove two several things, that these evils which now we suffer are neither grievous, nor new and unaccustomed. In certain of which few matters that are behind unhandled, I pray [that you?], Lipsius, show thyself willing and attentive unto me. Never more willing, Langius, than now. For it pleases me very well that we have passed through the pikes; and I long earnestly for some pleasant and familiar medicines, after these sharp and bitter pills. And so it appears by the title that the disputation ensuing will be. You say true, quoth Langius. And even as the surgeons after they have seared and cut as much as likes them, do not forthwith dismiss their patient, but apply some gentle medicines and comfortable salves to assuage the pain, so I having sufficiently seared and purged thee with the razors and fire of wisdom, will now cherish thee again with some sweeter communication, and will touch thee with a milder hand, as the saying is. I will descend from that craggy hill of philosophy, leading thee awhile in the pleasant fields [of] philology [marginal note: "which is here taken for eloquence or sweet communication. It signify properly love of talk, as philosophy does love of wisdom"]. And that, not so much for thy recreation as for thy health. It is said that Demochares, a physician having for his patient Considia, a noble woman . . . [who] refused all kind of sharp medicines, ministered unto her the milk of goats, which he caused to feed altogether upon mastic; so it is my purpose to import now unto thee some historical and delectable matters, but yet sauced with a secret liquor of wisdom. What matter is it which way we attempt the curing of a sick body, so [long as] we restore [it] to perfect health?
Now march forward mine own good legion. And first of all that troop which are assigned to the forward; proving that these evils are not grievous, which we will convince by a twofold argument. Of reason, because if thou have due respect thereunto, truly all these things which do betide us and hang over our heads, are neither grievous nor great, but do only seem so to be. It is Opinion which does augment and amplify them, and lifts them up as it were upon a stage to be seen. But if thou be wise, scatter abroad that thick mist, and behold the things in the clear light. For example's sake, thou in this time of public calamities fearest poverty, banishment, and death. If thou look upon these things with indifferent and sound eyes, alas, what trifles are they? If thou poise them according to their weight, how light be they? This war, or else the tyranny of governors through excessive tributes will impoverish thee. What then? Thou shalt be a poor man. Did not nature so make thee, and so shall take thee hence? But if the odious and infamous name of tyranny offend thee, change thy habitation, so shalt thou free thyself. Fortune, if thou mark it, has helped thee, and provided thee a place of more security. No man shall pill and poll thee any more. Thus the thing which thou didst account as damage shall be a remedy unto thee. "But I shall be a banished man." Nay, rather a stranger, if thou wilt. If thou alter thy affection, thou changest thy country. A wise man, in whatsoever place he be, is as a pilgrim. And a fool wheresoever he be is an exile.
But thou wilt say, death is daily imminent to me by means of a tyrant. As though it were not so every day by nature. "Yea but it is a shameful matter to die by execution or strangling." O fool, neither that nor any other kind of death is infamous, except thy life be such. Recount unto me the best and worthiest persons have been since the beginning of the world; they ended their lives by violence. This examination, Lipsius, whereof I do give thee a taste only, must be used in all those things which do seem terrible, and we must behold them naked without any vestment or vizard [mask] of opinions. But we poor wretches do turn ourselves to these vain and external matters, not fearing the things themselves but the circumstances and adjuncts of them. Behold, if thou sail on the sea, and it begin to swell mightily, thy courage quaileth, and thou tremblest with fear, as though if thy ship were cast away thou shouldst swallow up the whole sea, whereas one quart or two thereof will suffice to drown thee. If an earthquake be suddenly raised, what crying out and quaking is there? Thou imaginest that the whole town or at least a house will fall upon thee; and dost not consider that the dropping down of one little stone is enough to knock out thy brains. Even so is it in these great common calamities, in the which the noise and vain imagination of things doth terrify us. "See this troop of soldier! See these shining swords!" Why? What can these soldiers or these swords do? "They will kill me." What is killing? A bare and mere death only. And that the name may not terrify thee, it is but a departure of the soul from the body. [Marginal note: More of which we have spoken of in our book entitled Thrasea, or Of Contempt of Death]. All which bands of soldiers, all which threatening swords shall do but that which one fever, one small kernel of a grape, or one little worm may bring to pass.
"But the other is more painful." Nay it is far more easy, for an ague which thou seemest rather to choose, keeps a man in pains commonly a whole year together, but here the matter is ended with one blow in a moment. Therefore it was well spoken of Socrates, who used to call all these things no otherwise but goblins or painted vizards [masks], which if thou put on, children run from thee affrighted, but so soon as thou puttest off the same and shewest thine own face, they will come about thee and embrace thee in their arms. Even so stands the case in these matters that seem so terrible, which if thou behold without veil or vizard, thou wilt confess that all thy fear was but childish. As hailstones though they beat upon houses with a great noise, yet themselves do leap away and are dissolved, so these things if they happen to light upon a constant settled mind, do not case down it, but vanish and come to naught themselves.
This earnest and grave communication of Langius was nothing answerable to my hope or expectation: Wherefore interrupting him, "whither now?" quoth I, "Was this your promise to me? I expected the sweet wine and honeycombs of histories, but you serve me with such sour sauce as there is none more sharp among all the store of philosophy. What? Do you think that you have to do with some Thales? No, no. Now you have Lipsius in hand, who as he is a man and of the common sort of men; so he desires remedies somewhat more spiced with humanity than these be." Then, said Langius with a mild voice and countenance, I confess indeed I am worthy of blame. For in following the bright beams of reason I see myself to have strayed out of the highway and decline unawares into the path of wisdom again. But now I will amend the matter, and return to hold on my course in a more familiar known trade-way. Doth the sharpness of the wine that I broached dislike thee? I will sweeten it with the honey of examples. Now therefore I come to comparisons, and will prove evidently that there is nothing grievous or great in all these evils which do now about everywhere, if we compare them with those of old time. For in times past the same have been far more heinous and lamentable than now. Hereat I once again more eagerly than before replied: "What? Say you so indeed? And think you to bring me into that belief? No, Langius, not so long as there is any sense in my head. For what age past, if you examine the matter rightly has at any time been so miserable as this ours, or even shall be? What country, what region has suffered, so many things grievous to be spoken of and rigorous to be endured, as we Flemings do at this day? We are shaken to and fro with wars not only foreign but civil; and not such only but intestine dissensions even within our own bowels. For there be not only parties among us, but new parties of these same parties. Alas, my dear country, what safety can save thee? Add hereto pestilence, and famine, tributes, rapines, slaughters; also the uttermost extremity of tyranny. And oppressions not of bodies only, but also of minds. And what is there in other parts of Europe? War or fear of war: And if any peace be, it is joined with shameful servitude under petty lords, and no better at all than any kind of war. Whithersoever we cast our eyes or cogitations, all things hang in suspense and suspicion. And, as it were in an old ruinous house, there be many tokens of falling down. In fine, Langius, like as all rivers run into the Sea; so it seems that all misfortunes are fallen upon this present age. I speak only of those evils which are in action, and now presently tossing us. What need I make mention of such as hang over our heads? To which I may truly apply that saying of Euripides:
I see so great a sea of evils at hand
So that it seems a matter hard safely to swim to land.
Langius turning himself toward me angrily [odd attitude for a Stoic, this--JG], and as it were with intent to rebuke me, "What? Dost thou yet again cast thyself down by these querulous complaints? I thought thou hadst stood fast like a man, and I see thou fallest. That thy wounds had been quite closed up, but I perceive thou dost open them again. Howbeit thou must be endued with contentation of mind if thou wilt be in perfect health.
Thou sayest, this age is the unhappiest that ever was. This has been an old lay long ago used. I know thy grandfather said so, and likewise thy father. I know also that thy children and children's children will sing the same note. It is a thing naturally given unto men to cast their eyes narrowly upon all things that be grievous, but to wink at such as be pleasant. As flies and such like vile creatures do never rest long upon smooth and fine polished places, but do stick fast to rough and filthy corners, so the murmuring mind does lightly pass over the consideration of all good fortune but never forgets the adverse or evil. It handles and pries into that, yea, and oftentimes augments it with great wit. Like as lovers do always behold somewhat in their mistress whereby they think her to excel all others; even so do men that mourn, in their miseries. Yea, moreover, we imagine things that be false, and bewail not only things present, but also such as be to come. And what gain we by this fore-reaching wit of ours? Surely nothing else but that some espying a far off dust raised by an army do thereupon forsake their tents for fear, so the vain shadow of future danger casts us down into the pit of desperation.
But thou, Lipsius, let pass these vulgar matters, and follow me now to that comparison which thou so much desirest. Thereby it shall most plainly appear unto thee, that the miserable desolations of old time were not only in all respects equal to these of our age but did far surpass them; and that we which live in these days have cause to rejoice rather than to grudge. Thou sayest we are tossed with wars. What then? Were not they of old time likewise? Yes, Lipsius, they had their beginning with the world, and shall never be at an end so long as the world lasts. But perhaps theirs were not so great, nor so grievous as ours be. Nay but it is so far otherwise that all ours are mere jestings and toys (I speak in good earnest) if they be compared with the ancient ages. I shall hardly find an entrance in, or a way out, if once I throw myself into these deep sea of examples. Notwithstanding shall we wander a little through all parts of the world? Let us go. We will begin with Judea, that is with the holy nation and people. I let pass those things which they suffered in Egypt and immediately after their departure therehence, for they are recorded and may easily be seen in Holy Scripture. I will come to the last of all, even such as are annexed to their final destruction, which it is expedient that I propound particularly as it were in manner of a table [marginal note: collected and taken out of Josephus]. They suffered therefore in civil and foreign wars within the space of seven years, these things ensuing. First there were slain
at Jerusalem by the commandment of Florus - 630What sayest thou, Lipsius? Dost thou cast down thy eyes at this? Nay, rather lift them up. And see whether thou dare again compare the wars that have been throughout all Christendom these many years, with the miserable desolations of this one Jewish nation.
at Caesarea by the inhabitants there, for hatred of the nation and their religion, at once - 20,000
at Scithopilis, a town of Syria - 13,000
at Ascalon in Palestina, of the inhabitants there - 2500
also at Ptolomais - 2000
at Alexandria in Egypt, under Tiberius Alexander then president - 50,000
at Damascus - 10,000
And all these happened as it were by sedition and tumults. Afterwards, by lawful and open war with the Romans, when Joppa was taken by Cesius Florus, there were slain of them - 8400
also in mount Cabulon - 2000
in fight at Ascalon - 10,000
again by deceit - 8000
at the taking of Aphaca - 15,000
In mount Gazarin were slain - 11,600
At Jotapa where Josephus himself was, about - 30,000
Again at the taking of Joppa, were drowned - 4200
In Tarichaeis slain - 6500
At Gamala killed, and that wilfully cast themselves headlong down from steep places - 9000
And not one man born in that town escaped, save two women that were sisters.
Giscala being abandoned, there were slain in the fight - 2000
And of women and children taken captives - 3000
Of the Gaderens were put to the sword - 13,000
Taken captives - 2200
Besides an in[de]finite number that leapt into the river
In the streets of Idumaea were killed - 10,000
At Gerasium - 1000
At Macheruns - 1700
In the wood Iarde - 3000
In Massada a little castle were slain wilfully by themselves - 960
In Cirene slain by Catalus the president - 30,000
But in the city of Jerusalem during all the time of the siege, there died and were killed - 1,000,000
Taken captives - 97,000
This whole sum [note: which perished by famine, exile, and mischances] besides an innumerable company not spoken of amounts to - 124,000
I rest not here, but hold my way forwards into Greece. And if I should recount in order all the wars that those people have had among themselves at home, or abroad with others, it would be tedious to tell, and without any profit. Thus much only I say, that this region has continually been so wasted and hacked with the sword of calamity, as Plutarch records (which I never read without anger and admiration) that the whole nation in his time was not able to make three thousand soldiers. And yet, says he, in times past even in the Persian war, one little town by Athens called Megara sufficed to raise that number. Alas how art thou decayed? O thou garden of the whole earth? The glory and beauty of nations. There is scarce now a town of any name in this distressed country of Belgica that cannot match that number of warlike people. Now shall we take a view of the Romans and of Italy? Augustine and Orosius have already eased me of this business in rehearsing. See their writings, and in them huge seas of evils. One Carthaginian war even the second within the country of Italy, Spain, and Sicily, and within the space of 17 years consumed fourteen hundred thousand men and above. (For I have searched the number very narrowly.) The civil war between Caesar and Pompey 300,000. And the weapons of Brutus, Cassius, and Sextus Pompeius more than that. What speak I of wars managed under the conduct of diverse persons? Behold. Only C. Caesar (O the plague and pestilence of mankind!) confesses and that with boasting "that he slew in battles eleven hundred ninety and two thousand men" (Pliny 51.7) And yet the butchery of his civil wars runs not in this reckoning. These slaughters were committed upon foreigners in those few years wherein he ruled over Spain and France. And yet notwithstanding in this respect he which was surnamed THE GREAT [Pompeius Magnus] surpassed him; who caused it to be written in the temple of Minerva, "that he had overcome, put to flight, slain, and upon yielding received to mercy, twenty hundred four score and four thousand men." And to make up the account, added unto these, if thou wilt, Q. Fabius who slew 110,000 Frenchmen, C. Marius 200,000 Cimbrians. And in a later age Aetius, who in a famous battle killed a hundred three score and two thousand Hungarians.
Neither do thou imagine that men only were destroyed in these great wars, but likewise goodly towns were ruinated by them. Cato surnamed Censorius [marginal note: in Plutarch] boasted that he took more towns in Spain [to the number of 400, as Plutarch and Appian write] than he had been days in that country. Sempronius Gracchus, if we give credit to Polybius, utterly overthrew thirty in the same region. I think that no age since the world began is able to match these, but only ours, yet in another world. A few Spaniards sailing within these fourscore years into that marvelous wide new world, O good God, what exceeding great slaughters have they wrought? What wonderful desolations? I speak not of the causes and equity of the war but only of the events. I behold that huge scope of ground (a great matter to have seen, I say not to have subdued it) how it was walked through by twenty or thirty soldiers. And these naked herds of people cut down by them, even as corn with a scythe. Where art thou the most mighty island of Cuba? Thou Haiti? You islands Iucaiae? Which heretofore being replenished with five or six hundred thousand men in some of you scant fifteen are left alive to preserve your seed. Show thyself awhiles thou Peru and Mexico. O marvelous and miserable spectacle! That mighty large country, and in truth another world, appears desolate and wasted, no otherwise than if it had been consumed with fire from heaven. My mind and tongue both do fail me, Lipsius, in recounting these matters; and I see all our stirs in comparison of those to be nothing else but small fragments of straw, as the comic poet says, "little mites."
And yet have I not spoken at all of the condition of captive slaves, than the which nothing was more miserable in the ancient wars. Free born men, noble men, children, women, all whatsoever they were did the conqueror carry away. And who knows whether they were led into perpetual servitude or not? And truly the same such a miserable kind of slavery, as I have to cause to rejoice that not so much as the resemblance of any such has heretofore been, neither at this time is in Christendom. The Turks indeed do practice it; and there is no other thing that makes that Scythian sovereignty more odious and terrible unto us.
Yet thou proceedest on in thy whining complaint, adjoining moreover plague and famine, tributes and rapines. Let us make comparison of all these, but in few words. Tell me, how many thousands have died of the pestilence in all the low countries within these five or six years. I think fifty or at the most one hundred thousand. But one plague in Judea in the time of King David swept away threescore and ten thousand in less space than one whole day. Under the Emperors Gallus and Volusianus a plague beginning in Ethiopia went through all the Roman provinces and continued wasting and devouring fifteen years together. I never read of a pestilence greater than that for continuance of time, or scope of place where it raged. Notwithstanding for fierceness and extreme violence that pestilence was more notorious which reigned in Byzantium and the places confining, under the Emperor Justinian. The extremity of which plague was so outrageous that it made every day 5000 coarses [corpses?], and some days 10,000. I would be afraid for suspicion of falsehood to write this except I had very credible witnesses thereof that lived in the same age. No less wonderful was the plague of Africa which began about the subversion of Carthage. In the region of Numida only (now called Barbary) it consumed eight hundred thousand men. In the maritime coasts of Africa 200,000. And at Utica 30,000 soldiers which were left there for defence of that coast. Again in Greece under the reign of Michael duca the plague was so hot "that the living sufficed not to bury the dead." Those be the words of Zonara. Finally in Petrarch's time [marginal note: about the year AD 1359], as he records, the pestilence waxed so fervent in Italy that of every thousand persons scant ten were alive.
And now touching famine, our age has seen none in comparison of old time. Under Honorius the Emperor there was such scarcity and lack of victuals at Rome that one man fed upon another [note: Zosinus Annal 6], and in place of the common assembly to see plays and games there was heard a voice saying, "set a price upon man's flesh" [note: Procopius of the war of the Goths in whose writings see more]. Again throughout all Italy. What time as the Goths ransacked it under Justinian, there raged so sore a famine that in the country of Picem fifty thousand men perished with hunger. And not only the flesh but the very excrements of men served commonly for meat [i.e., food]. Two women (I quake to speak it) killed 17 men in the night by treachery and did eat them; at length [they] themselves were slain by the eighteenth who perceived the matter. I speak not of the famine in the holy city, nor of other examples commonly known.
And now if I shall say somewhat concerning tributes, it cannot be denied but they are very grievous wherewith we are oppressed, if we consider them in themselves alone without comparing the same with those of old times. Almost every province under the Roman Empire paid yearly the first of their pasture land, and the tenth of their arable [land]. Neither did Anthony and Caesar stick [hesitate] to exact the tributes of nine or ten years altogether in one year. After the killing of Julius Caesar, when arms were taken for defense of liberty, every citizen was commanded to defray the five and twentieth part of all his goods; and more than this, as many as were of the degree of Senators paid six asses for every tilestone of their houses, which amounts to an infinite sum of money, and in our opinions neither credible nor payable. [note Sex asses as my author sets it down; every asse, as some write, is worth a groat; but Dio lib. has 46.]
But Octavianus Caesar, I believe, in regard of his name, exacted and received of his enfranchised servants the eighth part of their goods. I omit that which the triumviri and other tyrants practiced, lest by the rehearsal thereof I should instruct them of our time. Let one example of pilling and powling serve for all the rest, namely that of colonies, which device as it was most assured for the strengthening of the empire, so there could be nothing imagined more heavy to the subjects that were conquered. Whole legions and bands of old soldiers were sent abroad into countries and towns, and the poor natural inhabitants there were in short time fleeced of all their goods and substance, and that without any fault or offence of them, but only their wealth and fat fields were the cause thereof. In which one kind of pilling is contained a gulf of all calamities besides. Is it a miserable case to be spoiled of our money? What is it then to be deprived of our fields and houses? If it be grievous to be thrust out of them, what is it to be banished our country? To be cast out from our churches and altars? For lo, certain thousands of people were taken up, children from their parents, masters from their families, women from their husbands, and were dispersed abroad into diverse countries, every one as his lot was. Some among "the thirsty Africans," as the poet speaking of this matters, "part of them into Scythia, or among the Britons inhabiting the uttermost ends of the world from us." Only Octavianus Caesar in Italy alone placed 18 colonies. And in the provinces of the empire as many as pleased him. And I know not of any one thing more pernicious than that, to the Frenchmen, us, and Spaniards.
But thou sayst further that the cruelties and butcherly slaughters of this age are such as have not been heard of before. I know thy meaning, and what has been lately done [note by original translator: I take it he means the Massacre at Paris on St. Bartholemew's Day]. Yet, upon thy credit, Lipsius, tell me, has not the like been among the ancients? Thou art ignorant, if thou know it not, and scarce honest if thou dissemble it. The examples are so many and ready at hand that it is a business for me to make choice of them. Hast thou heard of the name of Sulla, that happy man? Then art thou not ignorant of his infamous and tyrannous proscription, whereby he deprived one city of four thousand seven hundred citizens. And lest thou shouldst think they were of the base and meanest condition, know this that 140 of them were Senators. I say nothing of the manifold murders that were done by his permission or commission. So as it was not without cause that Q. Catal[l]us [?] uttered these words, "With whom shall we live at last if we killed armed men in war and unarmed men in peace?" Not long after, I read, that three of Sulla's scholars being triumviri, imitating their master, banished 300 Senators and above 2000 gentlemen of Rome [note: Appianus so counts them]. O monstrous wickedness, the like whereof the sun never saw nor shall see from East to West! Read Appian if thou wilt, and there behold the variable and loathsome spectacle of some hiding in corners, some flying away, some drawing back, others plucking forward, children and wives making lamentations round about. I would I were dead if any man will not affirm that humanity itself was utterly extinguished in that bloody and brutish age. These things were executed upon Senators and Gentlemen of the best sort, even knights; that is, almost upon so many kings and princes.
But peradventure the common sort tasted not of this sauce? Yes, mark how the very same Sulla [according to Valerius lib. 9.18], "whenas four legions of the contrary party had yielded to his fidelity, he caused them every man to be put to the sword in a common village, they crying out in vain for mercy at his treacherous hands." The pitiful groanings of which men at their death, coming to the Senate and the Senators turning about therewith amazed. "O reverent fathers," quoth he [i.e., Sulla], "let this be. Only a few seditious persons are punished by my appointment." And surely I know not at . . . [which] of these two I should marvel most, that a man could find in his heart to commit such a fact [deed] or to utter such words. What? Wilt thou have yet more examples of cruelty? Hear then Servius Galba assembling together the people of three towns in Spain as if he had to treat of something of their wealth, caused suddenly to be murdered 7000 among whom was the flower of all the youth. In the same country [according to Appianus] L. Licinius Lucullus the Consul, contrary to his promise made at the yield of the Caucaeans, sent his soldiers into their city and slew of them 20,000. Octavianus Augustus when he took Perowse [according to Suetonius] "choosing out 300 of those that had yielded, as well of the better sort, as of the vulgar, slew them in manner of sacrifices before an altar newly erected." DIVO IULIO. [to the divine Julius]. Antonius Caracalca being (for some kind of jests I know not what) offended with them of Alexandria [according to Ziphilimus and Herodianus], entering the city in peaceable manner, and calling out all their youth into a fair field, enclosed them with his soldiers and at a sign given, killed them every man; using the like cruelty against all residue, whereby he left utter without an inhabitant that populous city. [According to Valerius and others] King Mithridates by one letter caused to be murdered 4 score thousand citizens of Rome that were dispersed abroad throughout Asia about their marchandise [because of their involvement in trade] and other affairs. [According to Seneca De Ira II] Volesus Messala, being Proconsul of Asia, slew with the sword 300 in one day and then walking proudly among the corpses with his hands cast abroad, as though he had achieved a worthy enterprise, cried out, "O pragma basilikon!" (Oh kingly deed!--in Greek). I speak only of profane and wicked heathens; but behold also among those that are in name consecrated to the true God, Theodosius the prince, most mischievously and fraudulently calling together at Thessalonica 7000 innocent persons, as it were to see plays, sent in soldiers among them and slew them. Than the which fact there is not any more impious among the impieties of the old tyrants. Go now to my countrymen of Belgica, and complain of the tyranny and treachery of princes in this age.
Finally, thou dost accuse moreover the tyranny of these times, and the oppressions of body and mind. It is not my purpose ambitiously to extol this our age or to afflict and grieve it. For what good would come thereof? I will speak of [what] makes for my purpose of comparison. When were not these evils rife? And where not? Name me any age without some notable tyranny or any country? If thou canst do so (let me abide the danger of this hazard) I will confess that we be the most wretched of all wretches. Why holdest thou thy peace? I see the old taunting by-word is true, "That all good princes may be written at large in the compass of our ring." For it is naturally given to men's disposition to use imperial authority insolently, neither can they easily keep a mean in that thing which is above mediocrity. Even we ourselves that thus complain of tyranny do bear in our breasts some seed thereof, and many of us do not want [lack] will to perform it, but ability. The serpent being benum[b]ed with cold hath yet his poison within him but does not cast it out. So it is with us, whom only imbecility keeps back from doing harm, and a certain coldness of fortune. Give strength, give fit opportunity or instruments and I fear me that they which now are so querulous against mighty men will be most unruly themselves. We have examples of this in the common course of our life. See how this father tyrannizes over his children, that master over his servants, another schoolmaster over his scholars. Every one of these is a Phaleris [marginal note: a most cruel tyrant] in his kind. And they do stir up waves as much within their rivers as kings do in their great seas. Neither are other living creatures free from this natural disposition. Among whom many do exercise their cruelty upon their like in kind, both in the air, earth, and water. As it is well say of Varo [Varro?]:
So little fish to great ones are a prey
And silly birds, the greedy hawk doth slay
Thou repliest yet, that all these are only oppressions of the body. But now this passes all the rest, that we endure also servile oppressions of our minds. Is it so indeed? Of our minds? Take heed this be not spoken more enviously than truly. He seems unto me to know neither himself nor the celestial nature of the mind, which thinks it may be oppressed or constrained. For no outward force can ever make thee to will what thou will not; or to believe [what] thou believest not. A man may have power upon this bond or fetter of the mind, but not over the mind itself. A tyrant has power to loose it from the body, but not unloose the nature thereof. Such things as be pure, everlasting, and of fiery nature, set nought by all external and violent handling.
But, sayest thou, it is not lawful for me to express my mind freely. Be it so: herein thy tongue alone is bridled, not thy mind. Thy judgment is not restrained but thy acts. But this is a strange course and never before heard of. Alas, good man, how art thou deceived? How many could I recount unto thee who for their unadvised tongues have suffered punishment of all these senses under tyrants? How many of them have endeavored to force and constrain men's judgments? Yea their judgments, I say, in matters of religion. The kings of Persia and of the East made it an ordinary custom to be adored. And we know that Alexander assumed to himself the same divine honor, his own plain country misliking it. Among the Romans that good and moderate prince Augustus had his Flamines and Priests in all provinces, yea in private houses, as a god. Caligula cutting off the heads from the imagines of their heathen gods cause the likeness of his own to be put in their steads; and with a ridiculous impiety he erected a temple, instituted priests and most exquisite sacrifices in honor of his own majesty. Nero would needs be taken for Apollo, and the principal citizens were by him put to death under his pretense because they had never sacrificed before the heavenly voice. As for Domitian, he was commonly called "our god" and "our lord." What vanity, Lipsius, or impiety were it to speak ought against any king? I purpose not to sail nearer this gulf, whereinto no stormy winds of ambition shall ever draw or drive me "for the reward of silence is void of danger." I will allege only one testimony concerning all this matter of servitude in old times, and that out of [a] writer [familiar to you], which I would have thee well to mark. Tacitus, writing of Domitian's time, has [written] thus:
"We read that it was made a matter of death, when Petus Thrasea was praised [?] unto Arulenus Iusticus, or Priscus Helvidius to Herennius Senecio. Neither extended this cruelty unto those authors only but also to their books, the triumviri, having the charge committed unto them, to see the monuments of those excellent wits [minds] burned in open view of the people, and in the marketplace. Forsooth they supposed by that fire utterly to abolish or suppress the speech of the people of Rome, the liberties of the Senate, and the consciences of all mankind. Expelling moreover all professors of wisdom and banishing all good arts to the intent that no honest thing should remain in ure [use?]. [Note: Epictetus may have been among those banished from Rome in the reign of Domitian.--JG] Surely we have given a notable experiment of patience; and as the old ages have seen the very highest degree in liberty, so have we felt the uttermost extremity in servitude. The very society of speaking and hearing being taken from us by straight inquisitions. We should also have lost our memory with our voice, if so be it lay in our power to forget, as it does to hold our peace."
Neither will I add any more touching comparison, I come now to the last troop of my legion which fights against novelty, but briefly, and with contempt of it. For it shall rather gather up the spoils of the conquered enemies than be forced to any fierce grappling with them. For in very truth, what is there here that can be accounted new to any man unless that thou thyself being new born art a novice in human affairs? Well spake Crantor and wisely, who had ever this verse in his mouth, "Woe is me, what woe is me? We have suffered but things pertaining to men." For these miseries do but wheel about continually, and circularly run about this circle of the world. Why sighest thou for the happening of these heavy accidents? Why marvelest thou at them?
O Agamemnon, Atreus thy sire
Begat thee not to joyfulness alone:
As mirth, so sorrow sometimes is thy hire;
Mortal thou art, and thereto wast thou borne.
Yea though thou strive, and stubbornly refuse,
God having willed it so, thou canst not choose.
This rather is a thing to be wondered at, if any man were lawlessly exempted from this common law, and carried none of that burden whereof every man bears a part. Solon seeing a very friend of his at Athens mourning piteously, brought him into a high tower and showed him underneath all the houses in that great city, saying unto him "Think with thyself how many sundry mornings in times past have been in all these houses, many at this present are, and in time to come shall be: and leave off to bewail the miseries of mortal folk, as if they were thine own." I would wish thee, Lipsius, to do the like in this wide world. But because thou canst not in deed and fact, go to, do it a little while in conceit and imagination. Suppose, if it please thee, that thou art with me in the top of that high hill Olympus; behold from thence all towns, provinces, and kingdoms of the world, and think that thou seest even so many inclosures full of human calamities. These are but only theaters and places for the purpose prepared: wherein fortune plays her bloody tragedies. Neither cast thine eyes far hence. Seest thou Italy? It is not yet full thirty years ago since it had rest from cruel and sharp wars on every side. Dost thou behold the large country of Germany? There were lately in her great sparks of civil dissension, which do begin to burn again; and unless I be deceived will grow to a more consuming flame. Britain? In it there have been continual wars and slaughters, and in that now it rests awhile in peace, must be referred to the government of a peaceable sex [obviously, a reference to Elizabeth I--JG]. What of France? See and pity her. Even now a festered gangrene of bloody war creeps through every join thereof. So is it in all the world besides. Which things think well upon, Lipsius, and by this communication or participation of miseries, lighten thine own. And like as they which rode gloriously in triumph, had a servant behind their backs who in the midst of all their triumphant jollity cried out often times "Thou art a man," so let this be ever as a prompter by thy side, "That these things are human, or appertaining to men." For as labor being divided between many is easy: even so likewise is sorrow.
I have displayed all my forces, Lipsius, and all my arguments. Thou hast heard as much as I thought necessary to be spoken in the behalf of constancy against sorrow. Which God grant it be not only pleasing but profitable unto thee; and that it do not so much delight as benefit or help thee. As certainly it will do if it sink not into thy ears alone but also into thy mind; and if, having once heard the same, thou suffer it hot to lie still and wither away as feed scattered upon the face of the earth. Finally, if thou repeat the same often, and take due consideration thereof. Because that as fire is not forced out of the flint with one stroke, so in these frozen hearts of ours, the lurking and languishing sparks of honesty are not kindled with the first stroke of admonitions. Which, that they may at the last be thoroughly enkindled in thee, not in words or appearance, but in deed and fact, I humbly and reverently beseech that eternal and celestial fire [marginal note: God who is a fiery spirit].
When he had thus spoke, he rose up hastily, and said I am going, Lipsius, for this south Sun is unto me a token of dinner time. Follow thou after me. Even so, quoth I, gladly and with a very good will. And now may I rightly sing together with you in the antiphony [marginal note: in the church where three parts of singing used, 1. Prosphonesis, that is, an invitation or provoking, 2. Antiphonia, that is, a response or answer, 3. Synodia, a close or joining together there in harmony. . . ], as is used in holy ceremonies,