Plutarch's Moralia (Holland)/Essay 16
HOW A MAN MAY RECEIVE PROFIT BY HIS ENEMIES
[Among the dangerous effects of envy and hatred, this is not the least nor one of the last, that they shoot (as it were) from within our adversaries, for to slide and enter into us and take possession in our hearts, making us believe that we shall impeach one evil by another; which is as much as to desire to cleanse one ordure by a new, and to quench a great fire by putting into it plenty of oil. As for hatred, it hath another effect nothing less pernicious, in that it maketh us blind, and causeth us that we cannot tell at which end or turning to take our enemies, nor know ourselves how to re-enter into the way of virtue. Plutarch, willing to cut off such effects by the help of moral philosophy, taketh occasion to begin this discourse with a sentence of Xenophon; and proveth in the first place by divers similitudes: That a man may take profit by his enemies: and this he layeth abroad in particulars, shewing that their ambushes and inquisitions serve us in very great stead. After this, he teacheth us the true way how to be revenged of those that hate us, and what we ought to consider in blaming another. Now forasmuch as our life is subject to many injuries and calumniations, he instructeth us how a man may turn all to his own commodity: which done, he presenteth four remedies and expedient means against their slanderous language, and how we should confound our enemies: The first is, To contain our own tongues, without rendering evil for evil; the second is, To do them good, to love and praise their virtues; the third, To outgo them in well-doing; and the last, To provide that virtue remain always on our side, in such sort, that if our enemies be vicious, yet we persist in doing good; and if they carry some shew and appearance of goodness, we endeavour to be indeed and without all comparison better than they.]
I see that you have chosen by yourself (O Cornelius Pulcher) the meetest course that may be in the government of common-wealth; wherein having a principal regard unto the weal-public, you shew yourself most gracious and courteous in private to all those that have access and repair unto you. Now forasmuch as a man may well find some country in the world wherein there is no venomous beast, as it is written of Candie, but the management and administration of state affairs was never known yet to this day clear from envy, jealousy, emulation, and contention, passions of all other most apt to engender and breed enmities, unto which it is subject; for that if there were nothing else, even amity and friendship itself is enough to entangle and encumber us with enmities; which wise Chilon the sage knowing well enough, demanded upon a time of one (who vaunted that he had no enemies) whether he had not a friend. In regard hereof a man of state and policy, in mine opinion (among many other things wherein he ought to be well studied) should also thoroughly know what belongeth to the having of enemies, and give good ear unto the saying of Xenophon, namely: That a man of wit and understanding is to make his profit and benefit by his enemies. And therefore, having gathered into a pretty treatise that which came into my mind of late, to discourse and dispute upon this matter, I have sent unto you written and penned in the very same terms as they were delivered, having this eye and regard as much as possible I could, not to repeat anything of that which heretofore I had written touching the politic precepts of governing the weal-public, for that I see that you have that book often in your hand.
Our forefathers in the old world contented themselves in this: that they might not be wounded or hurt by strange and savage beasts brought from foreign countries, and this was the end of all those combats that they had against such wild beasts; but those who came after have learned, moreover, how to make use of them; not only take order to keep themselves from receiving any harm or damage by them; but (that which more is) have the skill to draw some commodity from them, feeding of their flesh, clothing their bodies with their wool and hair, curing and healing their maladies with their gall and rennet, arming themselves with their hides and skins; insomuch as now from henceforth it is to be feared (and not without good cause) lest if beasts should fail, and that there were none to be found of men, their life should become brutish, poor, needy, and savage. And since it is so, that whereas other men think it sufficient not to be offended or wronged by their enemies, Xenophon writeth: That the wise reap commodity by their adversaries; we have no reason to derogate anything from his credit, but to believe him in so saying, yea, and we ought to search for the method and art to attain and reach unto that benefit, as many of us (at leastwise) as cannot possibly live in this world without enemies.
The husbandman is not able with all his skill to make all sort of trees to cast off their wild nature, and become gentle and domestical. The hunter cannot with all his cunning make tame and tractable all the savage beasts of the forest; and therefore they have sought and devised other means and uses to make the best of them; the one finding good in barren and fruitless plants, the other in wild and savage beasts. The water of the sea is not potable, but brackish and hurtful unto us, howbeit, fishes are nourished therewith, and it serveth man's turn also to transport passengers (as in a waggon) into all parts, and to carry whatsoever a man will. When the satyr would have kissed and embraced fire the first time that ever he saw it, Prometheus admonished him and said:
Thou wilt bewail thy goat's beard soon,
If thou it touch, 'twill burn anon;
but it yieldeth light and heat, and is an instrument serving all arts, to as many as know how to use it well; semblably, let us consider and see whether an enemy, being otherwise harmful and intractable, or at leastwise hard to be handled, may not in some sort yield as it were a handle to take hold by, for to touch and use him so as he may serve our turn and minister unto us some commodity. For many things there are besides which be odious, troublesome, cumbrous, hurtful, and contrary unto those that have them or come near unto them; and yet you see that the very maladies of the body give good occasion unto some for to live at rest and repose; I mean sequestered from affairs abroad, and the travails presented unto others by fortune, have so exercised them that they are become thereby strong and hardy: and to say more yet, banishment and loss of goods hath been the occasion unto divers, yea, and a singular means to give themselves to their quiet study and to philosophy; like as Diogenes and Crates did in times past. Zeno himself, when news came unto him that his ship wherein he did venture and traffic was split and cast away: Thou hast done well by me, fortune (quoth he), to drive me again to my scholar's weed. For like as those living creatures which are of a most sound and healthful constitution, and have besides strong stomachs, are able to concoct and digest the serpents and scorpions which they devour; nay, some of them there be which are nourished of stones, scales, and shells, converting the same into their nutriment by the strength and vehement heat of their spirits; whereas such as be delicate, tender, soft, and crazy, are ready to cast and vomit if they taste a little bread only, or do but sip of wine; even so foolish folk do mar and corrupt even friendship and amity; but those that are wise can skill how to use enmities to their commodity, and make them serve their turns.
First and foremost therefore, in my conceit, that which in enmity is most hurtful may turn to be most profitable unto such as be wary and can take good heed: and what is that, you will say? Thine enemy, as thou knowest well enough, watcheth continually, spying and prying into all thine actions, he goeth about viewing thy whole life, to see where he may find any vantage to take hold of thee, and where thou liest open that he may assail and surprise thee; his sight is so quick that it pierceth not only through an oak, as Lynceus did, or stones and shells; but also it goeth quite through thy friend, thy domestical servants, yea, and every familiar of thine with whom thou daily dost converse, for to discover as much as possibly he can what thou doest or goeth about; he soundeth and searcheth by undermining and secret ways what thy designs and purposes be. As for our friends, it chanceth many times that they fall extreme sick, yea, and die thereupon before we know of it, whiles we defer and put off from day to day to go and visit them, or make small reckoning of them; but as touching our enemies we are so observant, that we curiously inquire and hearken even after their very dreams; the diseases, the debts, the hard usage of men to their own wives, and the untoward life between them, are many times more unknown unto those whom they touch and concern than unto their enemy; but above all, he sticketh close unto thy faults, inquisitive he is after them and those he traceth especially: and like as the geirs or vultures fly unto the stinking scent of dead carrions and putrefied carcases, but they have no smell or scent at all of bodies sound and whole; even so those parts of our life which are diseased, naught and ill-affected, be they that move an enemy; to these leap they in great haste who are our ill-willers, these they seize upon, and are ready to worry and pluck in pieces; and this it is that profiteth us most, in that it compelleth us to live orderly, to look unto our steps that we tread not awry, that we neither do nor say ought inconsiderately or rashly; but always keep our life unblamable, as if we observed a most strict and exquisite diet; and verily, this heedful caution, repressing the violent passions of our mind in this sort, and keeping reason at home within doors, engendereth a certain studious desire, an intention and will to live uprightly and without touch: for like as those cities by ordinary wars with their neighbour cities, and by continual expeditions and voyages, learning to be wise, take a love at length unto good laws and sound government of state; even so they that by occasion of enmity be forced to live soberly, to save themselves from the imputation of idleness and negligence, yea, and to do everything with discretion and to a good and profitable end, through use and custom shall be brought by little and little (ere they be aware) unto a certain settled habit that they cannot lightly trip and do amiss, having their manners framed in passing good order, with the least helping hand of reason and knowledge beside; for they who have evermore readily before their eyes this sentence:
This were alone for Priamus,
And his sons likewise all,
Oh, how would they rejoice at heart.
In case this should befall,
certes, would quickly be diverted, turned and withdrawn from such things, whereat their enemies are wont to joy and laugh a good: see we not many times stage players, chanters, musicians, and such artificers in open theatres, who serve for the celebration of any solemnity unto Bacchus or other gods, to play their parts carelessly, to come unprovided, and to carry themselves I know not how negligently, nothing forward to shew their cunning and do their best, when they are by themselves alone and no other of their own profession in place? but if it chance that there be emulation and contention between them and other concurrents who shall do best, then you shall see them not only to come better prepared themselves, but also with their instruments in very good order; then shall you perceive how they will bestir themselves in trying their strings, in tuning their instruments more exactly, and in fitting everything about their flutes and pipes, and assaying them. He then who knoweth that he hath an enemy ready and provided to be the concurrent in his life, and the rival of his honour and reputation, will look better to his ways and stand upon his own guard; he will (I say) sit fast and look circumspectly about him to all matters, ordering his life and behaviour in better sort: for this is one of the properties of vice, that when we have offended and trespassed, we have more reverence and stand rather in awe of our enemies lest we be shamed by them than of our friends. And therefore, Scipio Nasica, when some there were that both thought and gave out that the Roman estate was now settled and in safety, considering that the Carthaginians, who were wont to make head against them and keep them occupied, were now vanquished and defeated, the Athenians likewise subdued and brought under subjection: Nay, marry (quoth he), for it is clean contrary, and even now are we in greatest danger, being at this pass that we have left ourselves none to fear, none to reverence.
And hereto, moreover, accordeth well the answer that Diogenes made, like a philosopher and a man of state indeed: One asked him how he should be revenged of his enemy: Marry (quoth he), by being a virtuous and honest man thyself. Men seeing the horses of their enemies highly accounted of, or their hounds praised and commended, do grieve thereat, if they perceive also their land well tilled and husbanded, or their gardens in good order, fresh, and flowering, they fetch a sigh and sorrow for the matter. What (think you then) will your enemy do? how will he fare, when you shall be seen a just man, wise and prudent, honest and sober, in words well advised and commendable, in deeds pure and clean, in diet neat and decent?
Reaping the fruit of wisdom and prudence,
Sown in deep furrow of heart and conscience,
From whence there spring and bud continually
Counsels full sage, with fruits abundantly.
Pindarus the poet said: That those who are vanquished and put to foil, are so tongue-tied that they cannot say a word; howbeit, this is not simply true, nor holdeth in all, but in such as perceive themselves overcome by their enemies, in diligence, goodness, magnanimity, humanity, bounty, and beneficence: for these be the things (as Demosthenes saith) which stent the tongue, close up the mouth, stop the wind-pipes and the breath, and in one word, cause men to be silent and dumb.
Resemble not lewd folk, but them outgo
In virtuous deeds, for this thou mayst well do.
Wouldest thou do thine enemy who hateth thee a great displeasure indeed? Never call him by way of reproach, buggerer, wanton, lascivious, ruffian, scurrile scoffer, or covetous micher; but take order with thyself to be an honest man every way, chaste, continent, true in deed and word, courteous and just to all those that deal with thee: but if thou be driven to let fall an opprobrious speech, and to revile thine enemy, then take thou great heed afterwards that thou come not near in any wise to those vices which thou reproachest him with, enter into thyself, and examine thine own conscience, search all the corners thereof, look that there be not in thy soul some putrefied matter and rotten corruption, for fear lest thine own vice within may hit thee home, and requite thee again with this verse out of the tragical poet:
A leech he is, others to cure,
Pester'd himself with sores impure.
If thou chance to upbraid thine enemy with ignorance, and call him unlearned, take thou greater pains at thy book, love thou thy study better, and get more learning: if thou twit him with cowardice, and name him dastard, stir up the vigour of thine own courage the rather, and shew thyself a man so much the more; hast thou given him the terms of beastly whoremaster or lascivious lecher, wipe out of thy heart the least taint and spot that remaineth hidden therein of concupiscence and sensuality; for nothing is there more shameful or causeth greater grief of heart, than an opprobrious and reproachful speech returned justly upon the author thereof. And as it seemeth that the reverberation of a light doth more offence unto the feeble eyes, even so those reproaches which are retorted and sent back again by the truth, upon a man that blazed them before, are more offensive: for no less than the north-east wind Cæcias doth gather unto it clouds, so doth a bad life draw unto it opprobrious speeches; which Plato knowing well enough, whensoever he was present in place, and saw other men do any unseemly or dishonest thing, was wont to retire apart, and say thus secretly unto himself: Do not I also labour otherwhile of this disease? Moreover, he that hath blamed and reproached the life of another, if presently withal he would go and examine his own, reforming the same accordingly, redressing and amending all that he finds amiss, until he have brought it to a better state, shall receive some profit by that reproving and reviling of his; otherwise it may both seem (as it is no less indeed) a vain and unprofitable thing.
Commonly men cannot choose but laugh when they see either a bald-pate or a hunch-back to taunt and scoff at others for the same defects or deformities; and so in truth, it were a ridiculous thing and a mere mockery, to blame or reproach another in that for which he may be mocked and reproached himself. Thus Leo the Byzantine cut one home that was crumped-shouldered and hunched-backed, when he seemed to hit him in the teeth with his dim and feeble eyesight: Dost thou twit me (quoth he) by any imperfection of nature incident unto a man, whenas thyself art marked from heaven, and earnest the divine vengeance upon thy back? Never then reprove thou an adulterer, if thyself be an unclean wanton with boys; nor seem thou to upbraid one with prodigality, if thou be a covetous miser thyself. Alcmæon reviled Adrastus (upon a time) in this wise: Thou
A sister hast by parents twain,
Whose hands her husband dear have slain.
But what answered Adrastus? He objected not unto him the crime of another, but payeth him home with his own, after this manner:
But thou thyself hast murder'd
Thine own kind mother, who thee bred.
In like sort, when Domitius (upon a time) seemed to reproach Crassus, saying: Is it not true, that when your lamprey was dead which was kept full daintily for you in a stew, you wept therefore? Crassus presently came upon him again with this bitter reply: And is it not true, that you, when you followed three wives of yours one after another to their funeral fire, never shed tear for the matter? It is not so requisite or necessary iwis (as the vulgar sort do think) that he who checketh and rebuketh another should have a ready wit of his own and a natural gift in doing it, or a loud and big voice, or an audacious and bold face; no, but such an one he ought to be, that cannot be noted and taxed with any vice: for it should seem that Apollo addressed this precept of his [Know thyself] to no person so much as to him who would blame and find fault with another; for fear lest such men, in speaking to others what they would, hear that again which they would not. For it happeneth ordinarily as Sophocles saith: That such an one
Who lets his tongue run foolishly,
In noting others bitterly,
Shall hear himself (unwillingly)
The words he gave so wilfully.
Lo, what commodity and profit ensueth upon reproaching an enemy!
Neither cometh there less good and advantage unto a man by being reproached by another, and hearing himself reviled by his enemies: and therefore it was well and truly said of Antisthenes, that such men as would be saved and become honest another day, ought of necessity to have either good friends, or most spiteful and bitter enemies: for as they with their kind remonstrances and admonitions, so these with their reproachful terms were like to reform their sinful life. But forasmuch as amity and friendship nowadays speaketh with a small and low voice when faults should freely be reproved, and is very audible and full of words in flattering, altogether mute and dumb in rebukes and chastisements; but what remaineth now but that we should hear the truth from the mouth of our enemies? much like unto Telephus, who for default of a physician that was a friend to cure him, was forced to commit his wound or ulcer to the iron head of his enemy's spear for to be healed; and even so those that have no well-willers that dare freely reprove their faults, must perforce endure with patience the stinging tongue of their enemy and evil-willer in chastising and rebuking their vices, not regarding so much the intent and meaning of the ill speaker, as the thing itself, and the matter that he speaketh; and look how he who enterprised the killing of Prometheus the Thessalian ran him so deep with his sword into the impostume or swelling botch which he had about him, that he let forth the corruption, and saved his life by the breaking and issue thereof; even so for all the world it falleth out many times that a reproachful speech delivered in anger or upon evil will is the cause of healing some malady of the soul, either hidden or unknown altogether, or else neglected: but the most part of those who are in this manner reproached, never consider whether the vice wherewith they are touched be in them or no, but they look rather if they can find some other vice to object unto him who hath thus challenged them; and much like unto wrestlers, they never wipe away their own dust, that is to say, the reproaches that be fastened upon themselves, and wherewith they be defamed, but they bestrew one another with dust, and afterwards trip up one another's heels, and tumble down one upon another, weltering in the same, and soiling one another therewith: whereas indeed it behoved rather that a man when he findeth himself tainted by his enemy, to endeavour for to do away that vice wherewith he is noted and defamed, much rather than to fetch out any spot or stain out of his garment which hath been shewed him: and although there be charged upon us some slanderous imputation that is not true, yet nevertheless we are to search into the occasion whereupon such an opprobrious speech might arise and proceed, yea, and take heed we must and fear, lest ere we be aware we commit the like or come near unto that which hath been objected unto us.
Thus, for example sake, Lacydes, king of the Argives, for that he did wear his hair curiously set, in manner of a peruke, and because his gait or manner of going seemed more delicate and nice than ordinary, grew into an ill name and obloquy of effeminate wantonness. And Pompeius the Great could not avoid the like suspicion, because he used otherwhiles to scratch his head with one finger only, and yet otherwise he was so far from feminine wantonness and incontinence as any man in the world. Crassus was accused for to have had carnal company with one of the religious nuns or votaries of Vesta, for that being desirous to purchase of her a fair piece of land and house of pleasure which she had, he resorted oftentimes privately unto her, spake with her apart, and perhaps made court unto her for to have her goodwill in that respect only. Posthumia likewise, another vestal virgin, for that she was given much to laugh upon a small occasion, and withal would not stick to entertain talk with men, more boldly peradventure than became a maiden of her profession, was so deeply suspected of incontinence, that she was brought judicially into question about it, howbeit found unguilty, and acquit she was; but when Spurius Minutius, the high-priest for the time being, assoiled her and pronounced the sentence of her absolution, minding to dismiss her of the court, he gave her a gentle admonition by the way, that from thenceforward she should forbear to use any words less modest and chaste than the carriage of her life was. Themistocles likewise, notwithstanding he was most innocent indeed, was called into question for treason because he entertained amity with Pausanias, sent and wrote oftentimes unto him, and so by that means gave suspicion that he minded to betray all Greece.
Whenas therefore thou art charged with a false crimination by thine enemy, thou must not neglect it and make small account thereof because it is not true, but rather look about thee and examine what hath been done or said, either by thee or any one of those who affect and love thee, or converse with thee, sounding and tending any way to that imputation which might give occasion or likelihood thereof, and carefully to beware and avoid the same: for if by adverse and heavy fortune whereunto others have inconsiderately fallen, they are dearly taught what is good for them, as Merope saith in one tragedy:
Fortune hath taken for her salary
My dearest goods of which I am bereft,
But me she taught by that great misery
For to be wise, and so she hath me left:
what should let or hinder us, but that we may learn by a master that costeth us nought, nor taketh nothing for his teaching (even our enemy) to profit and learn somewhat that we knew not before? for an enemy perceiveth and findeth in us many things more than a friend, by reason that (as Plato saith) that which loveth is always blind in the thing that is loved; whereas he who hateth us, besides that he is very curious and inquisitive into our imperfections, he is not meal-mouthed (as they say), nor will spare to speak, but is ready enough to divulge and blaze all abroad. King Hiero chanced upon a time, being at words with one of his enemies, to be told in reproachful manner by him of his stinking breath; whereupon being somewhat dismayed in himself, he was no sooner returned home to his own house but he chid his wife: How comes this to pass (quoth he)? what say you to it? how happeneth it that you never told me of it? The woman being a simple, chaste, and harmless dame: Sir (saith she), I had thought all men's breath had smelled so. Thus it is plain that such faults as be object and evident to the senses, gross and corporal, or otherwise notorious to the world, we know by our enemies sooner than by our friends and familiars.
Over and besides, as touching the continence and holding of the tongue, which is not the least point of virtue, it is not possible for a man to rule it always, and bring it within the compass and obedience of reason, unless by use and exercise, by long custom and painful labour he have tamed and mastered the worst passions of the soul, such as anger is: for a word that hath escaped us against our wills, which we would gladly have kept in; of which Homer saith thus:
Out of the mouth a word did fly
For all the range of teeth fast-by.
And a speech that we let fall at aventure (a thing happening oftentimes, and especially unto those whose spirits are not well exercised, and who want experience, who run out, as it were, and break forth into passions), this (I say) is ordinary with such as be hasty and choleric, whose judgment is not settled and staid, or who are given to a licentious course of life: for such a word, being (as divine Plato saith) the lightest thing in the world, both gods and men have many a time paid a most grievous and heavy penalty; whereas silence is not only (as Hippocrates saith) good against thirst, but also is never called to account, nor amerced to pay any fine; and that which more is, in the bearing and putting up of taunts and reproaches, there is observed in it a kind of gravity beseeming the person of Socrates, or rather the magnanimity of Hercules, if it be true that the poet said of him:
Of bitter words he less account did make
Than doth the fly, which no regard doth take.
Neither verily is there a thing of greater gravity, or simply better, than to hear a malicious enemy to revile, and yet not to be moved nor grow into passions therewith:
But to pass by a man that loves to rail,
As rock in sea, by which we swim or sail.
Moreover, a greater effect will ensue upon this exercise of patience, if thou canst accustom thyself to hear with silence thine enemy whiles he doth revile; for being acquainted therewith, thou shalt the better endure the violent fits of a curst and shrewd wife chiding at home; to hear also without trouble the sharp words of friend or brother; and if it chance that father or mother let fly bitter rebukes at thee or beat thee, thou wilt suffer all, and never shew thyself displeased and angry with them. For Socrates was wont to abide at home Xantippe his wife, a perilous shrewd woman and hard to be pleased, to the end that he might with more ease converse with others, being used to endure her curstness. But much better it were for a man to come with a mind prepared and exercised beforehand with hearing the scoffs, railing language, angry taunts, outrageous and foul words of enemies and strangers, and that without anger and shew of disquietness, than of his domestical people within his own house. Thus you see how a man may shew his meekness and patience in enmities; and as for simplicity, magnanimity and a good nature indeed, it is more seen here than in friendship: for it is not so honest and commendable to do good unto a friend, as dishonest, not to succour him when he standeth in need and requesteth it.
Moreover, to forbear to be revenged of an enemy if opportunity and occasion is offered, and to let him go when he is in thy hands, is a point of great humanity and courtesy; but him that hath compassion of him when he is fallen into adversity, succoureth him in distress, at his request is ready for to shew goodwill to his children, and an affection to sustain the state of his house and family being in affliction; whosoever doth not love for this kindness, nor praise the goodness of his nature:
Of colour black (no doubt) and tincture sweart,
Wrought of stiff steel or iron he hath an heart,
Or rather forg'd out of the diament,
Which will not stir hereat, nor once relent.
Cæsar commanded that the statues erected in the honour of Pompeius, which had been beaten down and overthrown, should be set up again; for which act Cicero said thus unto him: In rearing the images of Pompeius, O Cæsar, thou hast pitched and erected thine own. And therefore we ought not to be sparing of praise and honour in the behalf of an enemy, especially when he deserveth the same; for by this means the party that praiseth shall win the greater praise himself; and besides, if it happen again that he blame the said enemy, his accusation shall be the better taken, and carry the more credit, for that he shall be thought not so much to hate the person as disallow and mislike his action.
But the most profitable and goodliest matter of all is this: That he who is accustomed to praise his enemies, and neither to grieve nor envy at their welfare, shall the better abide the prosperity of his friend, and be furthest off from envying his familiars in any good success or honour that by well-doing they have achieved. And is there any other exercise in the world that can bring greater profit unto our souls, or work a better disposition and habit in them, than that which riddeth us of emulation and the humour of envy? For like as in a city wherein there be many things necessary, though otherwise simply evil, after they have once taken sure footing and are by custom established in manner of a law, men shall hardly remove and abolish, although they have been hurt and endamaged thereby; even so enmity, together with hatred and malice, bringeth in envy, jealousy, contentment, and pleasure in the harm of an enemy, remembrance of wrongs received, and offences passed, which it leaveth behind in the soul when itself is gone; over and besides, cunning practices, fraud, guile, deceit, and secret forlayings or ambushes, which seem against our enemies nothing ill at all, nor unjustly used, after they be once settled and have taken root in our hearts, remain there fast, and hardly or unneth are removed; insomuch as if men take not heed how they use them against enemies, they shall be so inured to them that they will be ready afterwards to practise the same with their very friends.
If therefore Pythagoras did well and wisely in acquainting his scholars to forbear cruelty and injustice, even as far as to dumb and brute beasts; whereupon he misliked fowlers, and would request them to let those birds fly again which they had caught; yea, and buy of fishers whole draughts of fishes, and give order unto his disciples to put them alive into the water again, insomuch as he expressly forbade the killing of any tame beast whatsoever; certes, it is much more grave and decent that in quarrels, debates, and contentions among men, an enemy that is of a generous mind, just, true, and nothing treacherous, should repress, keep down and hold under foot the wicked, malicious, cautelous, base, and ungentleman-like passions; to the end that afterwards in all contracts and dealings with his friend they break not out, but that his heart being clear of them, he may abstain from all mischievous practices.
Scaurus was a professed enemy and an accuser of Domitius judicially; now there was a domestical servant belonging to the said Domitius, who before the day of trial and judgment came unto Scaurus saying that he would discover unto him a thing that he knew not of, the which might serve him in good stead when he should plead against his master; but Scaurus would not so much as give him the hearing; nay, he laid hold on the party, and sent him away bound unto his lord and master. Cato (the younger) charged Muræna, and indicted him in open court for popularity and ambition, declaring against him that he sought indirectly to gain the people's favour and their voices to be chosen consul; now as he went up and down to collect arguments and proofs thereof, and according to the manner and custom of the Romans, was attended upon by certain persons who followed him in the behalf of the defendant, to observe what was done for his better instruction in the process and suit commenced, these fellows would oftentimes be in hand with him and ask whether he would to-day search for ought, or negotiate anything in the matter and cause concerning Muræna? If he said No, such credit and trust they reposed in the man that they would rest in that answer, and go their ways; a singular argument this was of all other to prove his reputation, and what opinion men conceived of him for his justice; but sure a far greater testimony is this, and that passeth all the rest, to prove that if we be accustomed to deal justly by our very enemies, we shall never shew ourselves unjust, cautelous, and deceitful with our friends. But forasmuch as every lark (as Simonides was wont to say) must needs have a cop or crest growing upon her head; and so likewise all men by nature do carry in their head I wot not what jealousy, emulation and envy, which is, if I may use the words of Pindarus:
A mate and fellow (to be plain)
Of brain-sick fools and persons vain.
A man should not reap a small benefit and commodity by discharging these passions upon his enemies, to purge and cleanse himself quite thereof, and as it were by certain gutters or channels, to derive and drain them as far as possibly he can from his friends and familiar acquaintance; whereof I suppose Onomademus, a great politician and wise statesman in the isle Chios, was well advised, who in a civil dissension being sided to that faction which was superior, and had gotten the head of the other, counselled the rest of his part not to chase and banish out of the city all their adversaries, but to leave some of them still behind: For fear (quoth he) lest having no enemies to quarrel withal, we ourselves begin to fall out and go together by the ears; semblably if we spend these vicious passions of ours upon our enemies, the less are they like to trouble and molest our friends: for it ought not thus to be as Hesiodus saith: That the potter should envy the potter; or one minstrel or musician spite another; neither is it necessary that one neighbour should be in jealousy of another; or cousins and brethren be concurrents and have emulation one at another, either striving to be rich or speeding better in their affairs: for if there be no other way or means to be delivered wholly from contentions, envies, jealousies, and emulations, acquaint thyself at leastwise to be stung and bitten at the good success of thine enemies; whet the edge and sharpen the point (as it were) of thy quarrellous and contentious humour, and turn it upon them and spare not: for like as the most skilful and best gardeners are of this opinion, that they shall have the sweeter roses and more pleasant violets if they set garlick or sow onions near unto them, for that all the strong and stinking savour in the juice that feedeth and nourish the said flowers, is purged away and goeth to the said garlick and onions; even so an enemy drawing unto himself and receiving all our envy and malice, will cause us to be better affected to our friends in their prosperity, and less offended if they outgo us in their estate; and therefore in this regard we must contend and strive with our enemies about honour, dignities, government, and lawful means of advancing our own estates, and not only to be grieved and vexed to see them have the better and the vantage of us, but also to mark and observe everything whereby they become our superiors, and so to strain and endeavour by careful diligence, by labour and travail, by parsimony, temperance, and looking nearly to ourselves, to surpass and go beyond them; like as Themistocles was wont to say: That the victory which Miltiades achieved in the plain of Marathon brake his sleeps, and would not let him take his night's rest: for he who thinketh that his enemy surmounteth him in dignities, in patronage of high matters and pleading of great causes, in management of state affairs, or in credit and authority with mighty men and grand seigniors, and instead of striving to enterprise and do some great matter by way of emulation, betaketh himself to envy only, and so sits still doing nothing, and loseth all his courage, surely he bewrayeth that he is possessed with naught else but an idle, vain, and enervate kind of envy.
But he that is not blinded with the regard and sight of him whom he hateth, but with a right and just eye doth behold and consider all his life, his manners, designs, words, and deeds, shall soon perceive and find that the most part of those things which he envieth were achieved and gotten by such as have them, with their diligence, wisdom, forecast, and virtuous deeds: he thereupon bending all his spirits and whole mind thereto, will exercise (I trow) and sharpen his own desire of honour, glory, and honesty, yea, and cut off contrariwise that yawning drowsiness and idle sloth that is in his heart. Set case, moreover, that our enemies by flattery, by cautelous shifts and cunning practices, by pleading of cases at the bar, or by their mercenary and illiberal service in unhonest and foul matters, seem to have gotten some power, either with princes in courts, or with the people in states and cities; let the same never trouble us, but contrariwise cheer up our hearts and make us glad in regard of our own liberty, the pureness of our life and innocency unreproachable, which we may oppose against those indirect courses and unlawful means. For all the gold that is either above ground or underneath (according as Plato saith) is not able to weigh against virtue. And evermore this sentence of Solon we ought to have in readiness:
Many a wicked man is rich,
And virtuous men are many poor:
But change we never will with sich,
Nor give our goodness for their store;
And why? virtue is durable,
Whereas their wealth is mutable;
much less then will we exchange the acclamations and shouts of a popular multitude in theatres, which are won with a feast; nor the honours and prerogatives to sit uppermost at a table near unto the chamberlains, minions, favourites, concubines or lieutenants-general of kings and princes. For nothing is desirable, nothing to be effected, nothing indeed honest that proceedeth from an unhonest cause: But he that loveth (according as Plato saith) is always blinded by the thing which is loved, and sooner do we perceive and mark any unseemly thing that our enemies do. Howbeit, to conclude, neither our joy and contentment conceived by observing them to do amiss, nor our grief and displeasure in seeing them do well, ought to be idle and unprofitable unto us; but this reckoning and account we are to make of both; that in taking heed how we fall into their faults we may become better, and in imitating their good parts not worse than they.