« PreviousContinue »
seek after happiness, and are presented with nothing but misery. Our double aim is, in effect, a double torture; while we are alike unable to compass either, and to relinquish either. These desires seem to have been left in us, partly as a punishment of our fall, and partly as an indication and remembrance whence we are fallen.
If man was not made for God, why is God alone sufficient for human happiness? If man was made for God, why is the human will, in all things, repugnant to the divine ?
Man is at a loss where to fix himself, and to recover his proper station in the world. He is unquestionably out of his way; he feels within himself the small remains of his once happy state, which he is now unable to retrieve. And yet this is what he daily courts and follows after, always with solicitude, and never with success; encompassed with darkness, which he can neither escape nor penetrate.
Hence arose the contest amongst the philosophers; some of whom endeavoured to raise and exalt man, by displaying his greatness ; others to depress and abase him, by, representing his misery. And what seems more strange, is, that each party borrowed from the other the ground of their own opinion. For the misery of man may be inferred from his greatness, as his greatness is deducible from his misery. Thus the one sect, with more evidence, demonstrated his misery in that they derived it from his greatness; and the other more strongly concluded his greatness, because they founded it on his misery. Whatever was offered to establish his greatness, on one side, served only to evince his misery in behalf of the other; it being more miserable to have fallen from the greater height. And the same proportion holds vice versa. So that in this endless circle of dispute, each helped to advance his adversary's cause; for it is certain, that the more degrees of light men enjoy, the more degrees they are able to discern of misery and of greatness. In a word, man knows himself to be mi. serable; he is therefore exceedingly miserable, because he knows that he is so; but he likewise appears to be eminently great, from this very act of knowing himself to be miserable.
What a chimera then is man! What a surprising novelty! What a confused chaos! What a subject of contradiction! A professed judge of all things, and yet a feeble worm of the earth; the great depositary and guardian of truth, and yet a mere medley of uncertainty; the glory and the scandal of the universe. If he is too aspiring and lofty, we can lower and humble him; if too mean and little, we can exalt him. To conclude, we can bait him with repugnances and contradictions, until, at length, he considers himself to be a monster even beyond conception.
51.-LADY FANSHAWE, SIR RICHARD FANSHAWE, a devoted adherent to the fortunes of Charles I., and a faithful servant to Charles II., was an honest statesman, and a gentleman of rare private virtue. He was also a scholar and a poet; and is known for a translation, very beautiful in parts, of Guarini's · Pastor Fido.' In his life of peril and difficulty he had the support of an incomparable wife, who survived him; and who left a manuscript memoir of her career, for the instruction of her son. This interesting narrative was first printed in 1829. It contains many curious anecdotes of the times; but its greatest charm consists in the picture it presents of the devoted attachment of an accomplished and heroic woman to the husband of her love. Lady Fanshawe wrote her memoir in 1676, and died in 1680.]
I have thought it good to discourse to you, my most dear and only son, the most remarkable actions and accidents of your family, as well as the more eminent ones of your father; and my life and necessity, not delight or revenge, hath made me insert some passages which will reflect on their owners, as the praises of others will be but just, which is my intent in this narrative. I would not have you be a stranger to it; because, by the example, you may imitate what is applicable to your condition in the world, and endeavour to avoid those misfortunes we have passed through, if God pleases.
Endeavour to be innocent as a dove, but as wise as a serpent; and let this lesson direct you most in the greatest extremes of fortune. Hate idleness, and curb all passions; be true in all words and actions ; unnecessarily deliver not your opinion ; but when you do, let it be just, well-considered, and plain. Be charitable in all thought, word, and deed, and ever ready to forgive injuries done to yourself, and be more pleased to do good than to receive good.
Be civil and obliging to all, dutiful where God and nature command you; but friend to one, and that friendship keep sacred, as the greatest tie upon earth, and be sure to ground it upon virtue; for no other is either happy or lasting.
Endeavour always to be content in that estate of life which it hath pleased God to call you to, and think it a great fault not to employ your time either for the good of your soul, or improvement of your understanding, health, or estate; and as these are the most pleasant pastimes, so it will make you a cheerful old age, which is as necessary for you to design, as to make provision to support the infirmities which decay of strength brings : and it was never seen that a vicious youth terminated in a contented, cheerful old age, but perished out of countenance. Ever keep the best qualified persons' company, out of whom you will find advantage, and reserve some hours daily to examine yourself and fortune; for if you embark yourself in perpetual conversation or recreation, you will certainly shipwreck your mind and fortune. Remember the proverb - such as his company is, such is the manand have glorious actions before your eyes, and think what shall be your portion in heaven, as well as what you desire on earth.
Manage your fortune prudently, and forget not that you must give God an account hereafter, and upon all occasions.
Remember your father, whose true image though I can never draw to the life, unless God will grant me that blessing in you; yet, because you were but ten months and ten days old when God took him out of this world, I will, for your advantage, show you him with all truth, and without partiality.
He was of the highest size of men, strong, and of the best proportion; his complexion sanguine, his skin exceedingly fair, his hair dark brown and very curling, but not very long; his eyes grey and penetrating, his nose high, his countenance gracious and wise, his motion good, his speech clear and distinct. He never used exercise but walking, and that generally with some book in his hand, which oftentimes was poetry, in which he spent his idle hours; sometimes he would ride out to take the air, but his most delight was to go only with me in a coach some miles, and there discourse of those things which then most pleased him, of what nature soever.
He was very obliging to all, and forward to serve his master, his country, and friend; cheerful in his conversation ; his discourse ever pleasant, mixed with the sayings of wise men, and their histories repeated as occasion offered, yet so reserved that he never showed the thought of his heart, in its greatest sense, but to myself only; and this I thank God with all my soul for, that he never discovered his trouble to me, but went from me with perfect cheerfulness and content; nor revealed he his joys and hopes, but would say that they were doubled by putting them in my breast. I never heard him hold a disputation in my life, but often he would speak against it, saying, it was an uncharitable custom, which never turned to the advantage of either party. He would never be drawn to the fashion of any party, saying, he found it sufficient honestly to perform that employment he was in ; he loved and used cheerfulness in all his actions, and professed his religion in his life and conversation. He was a true Protestant of the Church of England, so born, so brought up, and so died; his conversation was so honest that I never heard him speak a word in my life that tended to God's dishonour, or encouragement of any kind of debauchery or sin. He was ever much esteemed by his two masters, Charles the First and Charles the Second, both for great parts and honesty as for his conversation, in which they took great delight, he being so free from passion that made him beloved of all that knew him; nor did I ever see him moved but with his master's concerns, in which he would hotly pursue his interest through the greatest difficulties.
He was the tenderest father imaginable, the carefulest and most generous master I ever knew; he loved hospitality, and would often say, it was wholly essential for the constitution of England; he loved and kept order with the greatest decency possible; and though he would say I managed his domestics wholly, yet I ever governed them and myself by his commands; in the managing of which, I thank God, I found his approbation and content.
Now you will expect that I should say something that may remain of us jointly, which I will do though it makes my eyes gush out with tears, and cuts me to the soul to remember, and in part express the joys I was blessed with in him. Glory be to God, we never had but one mind throughout our lives. Our souls were wrapped up in each other's; our aims and designs one, our loves one, and our resentments one. We so studied one the other, that we knew each other's mind by our looks. Whatever was real happiness, God gave it me in him; but to commend my better half, which I want sufficient expression for, methinks is to commend myself, and so may bear a censure; but, might it be permitted, I could dwell eternally on his praise most
justly; but thus without offence I do, and so you may imitate him in his patience, his prudence, his chastity, his charity, his generosity, his perfect resignation to God's will, and praise God for him as long as you live here, and with him hereafter in the kingdom of Heaven. Amen.
We select a few passages which beautifully illustrate the purity and strength of the affection which this admirable woman bore to her companion in sorrow and in joy.
My Lady Rivers, a brave woman, and one that had suffered many thousand pounds’ loss for the king, and whom I had a great reverence for,—and she a kindness for me as a kinswoman,-in discourse she tacitly commended the knowledge of state affairs, and that some women were very happy in a good understanding thereof, as ny Lady Aubigny, Lady Isabel Thynne, and divers others, and yet none was at first more capable than I; that in the night she knew there came a post from Paris from the queen, and that she would be extremely glad to hear what the queen commanded the king in order to his affairs; saying, if I would ask my husband privately, he would tell me what he found in the packet, and I might tell her. I that was young and innocent, and to that day had never in my mouth, what news ? began to think there was more in inquiring into public affairs than I thought of, and that it being a fashionable thing, would make me more beloved of my husband, if that had been possible, than I was. When my husband returned home from council, after welcoming him, as his custom ever was he went with his handful of papers into his study for an hour or more; I followed him; he turned hastily, and said, “What wouldst thou have, my life?' I told him I heard the prince had received a packet from the queen, and I guessed it was that in his hand, and I desired to know what was in it; he smilingly replied, My love, I will immediately come to thee, pray thee go, for I am very busy. When he came out of his closet I revived my suit; he kissed me and talked of other things. At supper I would eat nothing; he as usual sat by me, and drank often to me, which was his custom, and was full of discourse to company that was at table. Going to bed I asked again, and said I could not believe he loved me if he refused to tell me all he knew; but he answered nothing, but stopped my mouth with kisses. So we went to bed, I cried, and he went to sleep. Next morning early, as his custom was, he called to rise, but began to discourse with me first,