A Discourse of Constancy in Two Books. Chiefly containing Consolations against Publick Evils/Prefaces

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To his very Worthy Friend
In the Middle Temple Esquire.

Assoon as my spare houres were delivered of this birth; I resolved it should be yours. Not that you cannot converse with Lipsius when you please, without the help of an Interpreter: Nor that I pretend by so slight a present as this, to discount with him; who ha's ever been ready to perform me all the best Offices that can be expected from a generous and disinterested friendship. But, to speak truth, I have done it in a kind of tenderness to my self: I know you will look upon my prefixing your name to this Essay with other Eyes than some others would; and will interpret that to be the Fruit of a well-meaning affection; which perhaps they would have called the bold effects of an unpardonable presumption. Being also conscious to my self, in what manner I have humbled that mighty Genius, which moves it self (with a peculiar and happy elegancy as well as reason) throughout almost every page of our Authour, by the cheap and base allay I have brought unto it: I determined to appease his Manes, and make him some amends at least by the choice of such a patronage as possibly himself would not have refused: I am sure I do not flatter you, when I say you are none of those degenerate Brittains, whom Gildas their own Country-man calls ætatis atramentum; but such a one as Lipsius himself doth else where describe.

———In quo, veteris vestigia recti
Et mores, video, ductos meliore metallo.
In whom the prints of ancient worth appear,
And the choice draughts of manners are as clear.

Go on Sir, and as you have hitherto very happily avoided those Rocks, whereupon some others (in an Age like yours, and through the dangerous allurements of a fortune at command) have fatally split themselves: So let every new accession of years, bring along with it such improvements, as may force us to acknowledge, that you have more than acquitted your self of all that your youth had so liberally promised. These are such wishes as he shall ever be prone to; who is


Coventry,Your most obliged
Octob. 1668.Friend and servant,


To the Noble and Magnifique
And to the
Senate and People

These Books of Constancy, which I both began and finished in the midst of the troubles of my Country, I thought meet to dedicate, and devote to you; the great Sena­tours of so great a City. Your Dignity, Prudence, and Vir­tue, were the motives to it; to­gether with that humanity of yours which I have often experienced, and which is peculiar to you; towards all that are good and learned. You will not I suppose disdain the gift; which though small in it self, will derive a kind of value from the mind of the Donour: Seeing I have given you the very best, and greatest of such things, as my Scholastical stores would at this time afford. To conclude, possibly the novelty of it may some way recommend it. For (if I am not mistaken) I am the first, who have attempted the opening, and clearing of this way of Wisdom, so long recluded, and overgrown with thorns; which certainly is such, as (in conjunction with the holy Scriptures) will lead us to tranquility, and peace. For my own part, I wanted not a desire, to render my thankful acknowledgments to you; and to contribute to the profit of others; if I have not had the ability, it is but reasonable, that you should be as equal to me, as I am to the great God; who I know hath not given all things to any one.


To the
Touching the design and End of this


I am not ignorant of those new judgments and censures I am likely to undergo in this new way of writing: Partly, from such as will be surprized with the unexpected profession of wisdom from him, whom they believed had only been conversant in the more pleasing and delightful studies; and partly from such as will despise and undervalue all that can be said in these matters, after what the ancients have written. To both these; it is for my concern, and no less for thine, that I should briefly reply. The first sort of persons seem to me to miscarry in two most different respects: in their care, and their carelesness. In the former that they assume to themselves a liberty of enquiring into the actions and studies of others: in the latter, that their enquiries are yet so overly and superficial For (that I may give them an account of me) the Hills and Springs of the Muses did never so intirely possess me; as that I should not find frequent opportunities to turn back my Eyes and Mind upon that severer deity: I mean Philosophy. The studies of which (even from my Childhood) were so pleasing to me, that in this youthful kind of ardour I seemed to offend, and to stand in need of the bridle of restraint. My Tutors at Ubich know how all those kind of books, were as it were forced out of my hands together with those writings and commentaries which I had laboriously composed out of all the best ranks of interpreters. Nor certainly did I afterward degenerate; for I know that in all the course of my studies; if not in an exact and straight line, yet at least in the flexure, I have tended towards this mark of wisdom. Not after the rate of most here that deal in Philosophy: who doting upon some thorny subtilties, or snares of questions, do nothing else but weave and unweave them with a kind of subtile thread of disputations. They rest in words, and some little fallacies; and wear away their dayes in the Porch of Philosophy, but never visit its more retired apartments. They use it as a divertisement, not as a remedy, and turn the most serious instrument of life, into a sportage with trifles: Who amongst them seeks after the improvement of his manners, the moderation of his affections; or designs a just end and measure for his fears or hopes. Yes, they suppose that wisdome is so little concerned in these things, that they think they do nothing, or nothing to the purpose that look after them, And therefore if you consider of their life, and sentiments, amongst the vulgar themselves you shall find nothing more foul than the one, nor more foolish than the other. For as wine (though nothing is more wholsome) is yet to some no better than poyson: So is Phylosophy to them that abuse it. But my Mind was otherwise; who alwayes steering my Ship, from these quick sands of subtilties, have directed all my endeavours to attain that one Haven of a peaceable and quiet mind. Of which study of mine; I mean these books as the first and undeceivable instance. But say some others, these things have been more fully and better treated of by the ancients. As to some of them I confess it: As to all I deny it. Should I write any thing of manners or the affections after Seneca and the divine Epictetus: I should have (my self being judge) as little discretion as modesty: But if such things as they have not so much as touched upon, nor any other of the ancients (for I dare confidently affirm it) then why do they despise it, or why do they carp at it? I have sought out consolations against publick evils: Who has done it before me? Whether they look upon the matter, or the method; they must confess they are indebted to me for both: And for the words themselves (let me say it) we have no such penury, as to oblige us to become suppliants to any Man. To conclude, let them understand I have written many other things for others; but this book chiefly for my self; the former for fame, but this for profit. That which one heretofore said bravely and acutely; the same I now truly proclaim. To me a few Readers are enough, one is enough, none is enough. All that I desire is, that whosoever opens this book, may bring with him a disposition to profit, and also to pardon. That if possibly have any where slipt (especially when I endeavour to climb those steep places of providence, Justice and Fate) they would pardon me. For certainly, I have no where erred out of malice and obstinacy: But rather through humane ignorance and infirmity. To conclude, I de­sire to be informed by them, and I promise that no Man shall be so ready to convince; as I to correct. The other frailties of my nature, I neither dissemble nor extenuate; but obstinacy and the study of contention, I do heartily pray I may never be guilty of, and I do detest it. God send thee good health, my Reader; which I wish may be in part to thee through this book.