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establish our opinions, 'tis best to argue with judgments below our own, that the frequent spoils and victories over their reasons, may settle in ourselves an esteem and confirmed opinion of our Every man is not a proper champion for truth, nor fit to take up the gauntlet in the cause of verity: many from the ignorance of these maxims, and an inconsiderate zeal for truth, have too rashly charged the troops of error, and remain as tro. phies unto the enemies of truth. A man may be in as just possession of truth as of a city, and yet be forced to surrender; 'tis therefore far better to enjoy her with peace, than to hazard her on a battle: if therefore there rise
any doubts in my way, I do forget them, or at least defer them, till my better settled judgment, and more manly reason be able to resolve them; for I perceive every man's own reason is his best Edipus, and will upon a reasonable truce, find a way to loose those bonds wherewith the subtleties of error have enchained our more flexible and tender judgments.
Sir T. Browne.
Nature doeth nothing in vain. Natura nihil agit frustra, is the only indisputable axiom in philosophy; there are no grotesques in nature; not any thing framed to fill up empty cantons, and unnecessary spaces: in the most imperfect creatures, and such as were not preserved in the ark, but having their seeds and principles in the womb of nature, are everywhere, where the power of the sun is; in these is the wisdom of his hand discovered : out of this rank Solomon chose the object of his admiration; indeed what reason may not go to school to the wisdom of bees, ants, and spiders ? what wise hand teacheth them to do what reason cannot teach us? Ruder heads stand amazed at those prodigious pieces of nature, whales, elephants, dromedaries and camels; these, I confess, are the colossi and majestic pieces of her hand: but in these narrow engines there is more curious mathematics; and the civility of these little citizens, more neatly sets forth the wisdom of their Maker.
Sir T. Browne.
Vanity of outward form in Nature. It is the common wonder of all men, how among so many millions of faces there should be none alike. Now contrary, I wonder as much how there should be
any : he that shall consider how many thousand several words have been carelessly and without study composed out of twenty-four letters; withal, how many hundred lines there are to be drawn in the fabric of one man, shall find that this variety is necessary; and it will be very hard that they shall so concur as to make one portrait like another. Let a painter carelessly limn out a million of faces, and you shall find them all different; yea, let him have his copy before him, yet after all his art there will remain a sensible distinction; for the pattern or example of every thing is the perfectest in that kind, whereof we still come short, though we transcend or go beyond it, because herein it is wide, and agrees not in all points unto its copy. Nor doth the similitude of creatures disparage the variety of nature, nor anyway confound the works of God. For even in things alike there is diversity; and those that do seem to accord do manifestly disagree. And thus is man like God; for in the same things that we resemble him, we are utterly different from him. There was never any thing so like another as in all points to concur: there will ever some reserved difference slip in, to prevent the identity, without which two several things would not be alike, but the same, which is impossible.
Sir T. Browne.
Of Sympathy. THERE is, I think, no man that apprehendeth his own miseries less than myself, and no man that so nearly apprehends another's. I could lose an arm without a tear, and with few groans, methinks, be quartered into pieces; yet can I weep most seriously at a play, and receive with a true passion the counterfeit griefs of those known and professed impostures. It is a barbarous part of inhumanity to add unto any afflicted party's misery, or endeavour to multiply in any man, a passion, whose single nature is already above his patience: this was the greatest affliction of Job; and those oblique expostulations of his friends, a deeper injury than the downright blows of the devil. It is not the tears of our own eyes only, but of our friends also, that do exhaust the current of our sorrows; which falling into many streams, runs more peaceably, and is contented with a narrower channel. It is an act within the power of charity, to translate a passion out of one breast into another, and to divide a sorrow almost out of itself; for an affliction, like a dimension, may be so divided, as, if not indivisible, at least to become insensible. Now with my friend I desire not to share or participate, but to engross his sorrows, that by making them mine own, I may more easily discuss them; for in mine own reason, and within myself, I can command that, which I cannot intreat without myself, and within the circle of another. I have often thought those noble pairs and examples of friendship not so truly histories of what had been, as fictions of what should be ; but I now perceive nothing in them but possibilities, nor any thing in the heroic examples of Damon and Pythias, Achilles and Patroclus, which methinks upon some grounds I could not perform within the narrow compass of myself. That a man should lay down his life for his friend, seems strange to vulgar affections, and such as confine themselves within that worldly principle, Charity begins at home.
Sir T. Browne.
The Difficulties of Life. It is not without reason that the apostle represents our passage through this stage of our existence by images drawn from the alarms and solicitude of a military life; for we are placed in such a state, that almost every thing about us conspires against our chief interest. We are in danger from whatever can get possession of our thoughts; all that can excite in us either pain or pleasure has a tendency to obstruct the way that leads to happiness, and either to turn us aside, or retard our progress.
Our senses, our appetites, and our passions, are our lawful and faithful guides, in most things that relate solely to this life; and, therefore, by the hourly necessity of consulting them, we gradually sink into an implicit submission, and habitual confidence. Every act of compliance with their motions facilitates a second compliance, every new step towards depravity is made with less reluctance than the former, and thus the descent to life merely sensual is perpetually accelerated.
The senses have not only that advantage over conscience, which things necessary must always have over things chosen, but they have likewise a kind of prescription in their favour. We feared pain much earlier than we apprehended guilt, and were delighted with the sensations of pleasure, before we had capacities to be charmed with the beauty of rectitude. To this power, thus early established, and incessantly increasing, it must be remembered, that almost every man has, in some part of his life, added new strength by a voluntary or negligent subjection of himself; for who is there that has not instigated his appetites by indulgence, or suffered them by an unresisting neutrality to enlarge their dominion, and multiply their demands ?
Folly of anticipating Misfortunes. It is a maxim, commonly received, that a wise man is never surprised; and perhaps, this exemption from astonishment may be imagined to proceed from such a prospect into futurity, as gave previous intimation of those evils which often fall unexpected upon others that have less foresight. But the truth is, that things to come, except when they approach very nearly, are equally hidden from men of all degrees of understanding; and if a wise man is not amazed at sudden occurrences, it is not that he has thought more, but less upon futurity. He never considered things not yet existing as the proper objects of his attention; he never indulged dreams till he