Page:Plutarch - Moralia, translator Holland, 1911.djvu/313

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291
The Natural Love of Parents

divers opinions which are among them) have appealed to the nature of brute beasts, as it were into a strange city, and remitted the deciding thereof to their properties and affections, according to kind, as being neither subject to partial favour, nor yet corrupt, depraved, and polluted. Now surely a common reproach this must needs be to man's naughty nature and lewd behaviour; That when we are in doubtful question concerning the greatest and most necessary points pertaining to this present life of ours, we should go and search into the nature of horses, dogs, and birds for resolution; namely, how we ought to make our marriages, how to get children, and how to rear and nourish them after they be born, and as if there were no sign (in manner) or token of nature imprinted in ourselves, we must be fain to allege the passions, properties, and affections of brute beasts, and to produce them for witnesses, to argue and prove how much in our life we transgress and go aside from the rule of nature, when at our first beginning and entrance into this world, we find such trouble, disorder, and confusion; for in those dumb beasts beforesaid, nature doth retain and keep that which is her own and proper, simple, entire, without corruption or alteration by any strange mixture; whereas contrariwise, it seemeth that the nature of man, by discourse of their reason and custom together, is mingled and confused with so many extravagant opinions and judgments, set from all parts abroad (much like unto oil that cometh into perfumers' hands), that thereby it is become manifold variable, and in every one several and particular, and doth not retain that which the own indeed, proper and peculiar to itself; neither ought we to think it a strange matter and a wonderful that brute beasts, void of reason, should come nearer unto nature, and follow her steps better, than men endued with the gift of reason: for surely the very senseless plants herein surpass those beasts beforesaid, and observe better the instinct of nature; for considering that they neither conceive anything by imagination, nor have any motion, affection or inclination at all, so verily their appetite (such as it is) varieth not nor stirreth to and fro out of the compass of lature, by means whereof they continue and abide as if they vere kept in and bound within close prison, holding on still in one and the same course, and not stepping once out of that way vherein nature doth lead and conduct them: as for beasts, they lave not any such great portion of reason to temper and mollify heir natural properties, neither any great subtlety of sense and conceit, nor much desire of liberty; but having many instincts,