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Title: A Character of King Charles the Second

Author: Marquis of George Savile Halifax

Release date: March 29, 2011 [eBook #35708]

Language: English

Credits: E-text prepared by Bryan Ness and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team ( from scanned images of public domain material generously made available by the Google Books Library Project (



E-text prepared by Bryan Ness
and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team
from scanned images of public domain material
generously made available by the
Google Books Library Project


Note: Images of the original pages are available through the the Google Books Library Project. See













Political, Moral and Miscellaneous
and Reflections.



Marquis of Halifax,




Printed for J. and R. Tonson and S. Draper
in the Strand. M DCC L.




The following Character of King Charles the Second, with the Political, Moral and Miscellaneous Thoughts and Reflections were written by George Savile Marquis of Halifax, and were taken from his original Manuscripts, in the Possession of his Grand-daughter Dorothy Countess of Burlington.




Character of King Charles II.1
Political Thoughts and Reflections.
Of Fundamentals,63
Of Princes,77
Princes, (their Rewards of Servants)79
Princes, (their Secrets)80
Love of the Subjects to a Prince,81
Suffering for Princes,ibid.
Of Ministers,82
Wicked Ministers,84
Instruments of State Ministers,85
Of the People,86
Of Government,89
Of Prerogative, Power and Liberty,94
Of Laws,101
Of Parliaments,103
Of Parties,105
Of Courts,111
Of Punishment,114
Moral Thoughts and Reflections.
Of the World,116
Of Ambition,119
Of Cunning and Knavery,121
Of Folly and Fools,126
Of Hope,132
Of Anger,134
Of Apologies,136
Of Malice and Envy,139
Of Vanity,141
Of Money,145
False Learning,147
Of Company,148
Of Friendship,150
Miscellaneous Thoughts and Reflections.
Of Advice and Correction,152
Of Alterations,153
Borrowers of Opinions,155
Of Caution and Suspicion,156
Faculties of the Mind,166
To Love, and to be in Love different,175
Reason and Passion,178
Speakers in Publick,ibid.
Time, the Loss of it,181



[Pg 1]






I. Of his Religion.

A Character differeth from a Picture only in this, every Part of it must be like, but it is not necessary that every Feature should be comprehended in it as in a Picture, only some of the most remarkable.

This Prince at his first entrance into the World had Adversity for his Introducer, which is generally thought to be no ill one, but in his case it proved so, and laid the foundation of most of those Misfortunes[Pg 2] or Errors, that were the causes of the great Objections made to him.

The first Effect it had was in relation to his Religion.

The ill-bred familiarity of the Scotch Divines had given him a distaste of that part of the Protestant Religion. He was left then to the little Remnant of the Church of England in the Fauxbourg St. Germain; which made such a kind of figure, as might easily be turn’d in such a manner as to make him lose his veneration for it. In a refined Country where Religion appeared in Pomp and Splendor, the outward appearance of such unfashionable Men was made an Argument against their Religion; and a young Prince not averse to rallery, was the more susceptible of a contempt for it.

The Company he kept, the Men in his Pleasures, and the Arguments[Pg 3] of State that he should not appear too much a Protestant, whilst he expected Assistance from a Popish Prince; all these, together with a habit encouraged by an Application to his Pleasures, did so loosen and untie him from his first Impressions, that I take it for granted, after the first Year or two, he was no more a Protestant. If you ask me what he was, my answer must be, that he was of the Religion of a young Prince in his warm Blood, whose Enquiries were more applied to find Arguments against believing, than to lay any settled Foundations for acknowledging Providence, Mysteries, &c. A General Creed, and no very long one, may be presumed to be the utmost Religion of one, whose Age and Inclination could not well spare any Thoughts that did not tend to his Pleasures.

[Pg 4]In this kind of Indifference or Unthinkingness, which is too natural in the beginnings of Life to be heavily censured, I will suppose he might pass some considerable part of his Youth. I must presume too that no Occasions were lost, during that Time, to insinuate every thing to bend him towards Popery. Great Art without intermission against Youth and Easiness, which are seldom upon their guard, must have its Effect. A Man is to be admired if he resisteth, and therefore cannot reasonably be blamed if he yieldeth to them. When the critical Minute was, I’ll not undertake to determine; but certainly the inward Conviction doth generally precede the outward Declarations: At what distances, dependeth upon Mens several Complexions and Circumstances; no stated Period can be fixed.

[Pg 5]It will be said that he had not Religion enough to have Conviction; that is a vulgar Error. Conviction indeed is not a proper word but where a Man is convinced by Reason; but in the common acceptation, it is applied to those who cannot tell why they are so: If Men can be at least as positive in a Mistake as when they are in the right; they may be as clearly convinced when they do not know why, as when they do.

I must presume that no Man of the King’s Age, and his Methods of Life, could possibly give a good reason for changing the Religion in which he was born, let it be what it will. But our Passions are much oftener convinced than our Reason. He had but little Reading, and that tending to his Pleasures more than to his Instruction. In the Library of a young Prince, the solemn[Pg 6] Folios are not much rumpled, Books of a lighter Digestion have the Dog’s Ears.

Some pretend to be very precise in the time of his Reconciling; The Cardinal de Retz, &c. I will not enter into it minutely, but whenever it was, it is observable that the Government of France did not think it adviseable to discover it openly; upon which such obvious Reflections may be made, that I will not mention them.

Such a Secret can never be put into a place which is so closely stopt, that there shall be no Chinks. Whispers went about, particular Men had Intimations: Cromwell had his Advertisements in other things, and this was as well worth his paying for. There was enough said of it to startle a great many, though not universally diffused; So much, that if the Government here, had not crumbled of[Pg 7] itself, his Right alone, with that and other clogs upon it, would hardly have thrown it down. I conclude that when he came into England he was as certainly a Roman Catholick, as that he was a Man of Pleasure; both very consistent by visible Experience.

It is impertinent to give Reasons for Mens changing their Religion. None can give them but themselves, as every Man has quite a different way of arguing: A thing which may very well be accounted for. They are differing kinds of Wit, to be quick to find a Fault, and to be capable to find out a Truth: There must be industry in the last; the first requires only a lively heat, that catcheth hold of the weak side of any thing, but to choose the strong one is another Talent. The reason why Men of Wit are often the laziest in their [Pg 8]Enquiries is, that their heat carrieth their Thoughts so fast, that they are apt to be tired, and they faint in the drudgery of a continued Application. Have not Men of great Wit in all times permitted their Understandings to give way to their first Impressions? It taketh off from the Diminution when a Man doth not mind a thing; and the King had then other Business: The inferior part of the Man was then in Possession, and the Faculties of the Brain, as to serious and painful Enquiries, were laid asleep at least, tho’ not extinguished. Careless Men are most subject to Superstition. Those who do not study Reason enough to make it their Guide, have more Unevenness: As they have Neglects, so they have Starts and Frights; Dreams will serve the turn; Omens and Sicknesses have violent and sudden Effects upon[Pg 9] them. Nor is the strength of an Argument so effectual from its intrinsick Force, as by its being well suited to the Temper of the Party.

The genteel part of the Catholick Religion might tempt a Prince that had more of the fine Gentleman than his governing Capacity required: and the exercise of Indulgence to Sinners being more frequent in it, than of inflicting Penance, might be some recommendation. Mistresses of that Faith are stronger Specificks in this case, than any that are in Physick.

The Roman Catholicks complained of his Breach of Promise to them very early.[1] There were broad peepings out, Glimpses so often repeated, that to discerning Eyes it was flaring: In the very first Year there were such Suspicions as produced melancholy shakings of the Head, which were[Pg 10] very significant. His unwillingness to marry a Protestant was remarkable, though both the Catholick and the Christian Crown would have adopted her. Very early in his Youth, when any German Princess was proposed, he put off the discourse with Rallery. A thousand little Circumstances were a kind of accumulative Evidence, which in these Cases may be admitted.

Men that were earnest Protestants were under the sharpness of his Displeasure, expressed by Rallery, as well as by other ways. Men near him have made Discoveries from sudden breakings out in Discourse, &c. which shewed there was a Root. It was not the least skilful part of his concealing himself, to make the World think he leaned towards an Indifference in Religion.

[Pg 11]He had Sicknesses before his Death, in which he did not trouble any Protestant Divines; those who saw him upon his Death-bed, saw a great deal.

As to his writing those Papers,[2] he might do it. Though neither his Temper nor Education made him very fit to be an Author, yet in this case, (a known Topick, so very often repeated) he might write it all himself, and yet not one word of it his own. That Church’s Argument doth so agree with Men unwilling to take pains, the Temptation of putting an End to all the trouble of enquiring is so great, that it must be very strong reason that can resist: The King had only his meer natural Faculties, without any Acquisitions to improve them; so that it is no[Pg 12] wonder, if an Argument which gave such Ease and Relief to his Mind, made such an Impression, that with thinking often of it, (as Men are apt to do of every thing they like) he might, by the Effect chiefly of his Memory, put together a few Lines with his own Hand, without any help at the time; in which there was nothing extraordinary, but that one so little inclined to write at all, should prevail with himself to do it with the Solemnity of a Casuist.


II. His Dissimulation.

One great Objection made to him was the concealing himself, and disguising his Thoughts. In this there ought a Latitude to be given; it is a Defect not to have it[Pg 13] at all, and a Fault to have it too much. Human Nature will not allow the Mean: like all other things, as soon as ever Men get to do them well, they cannot easily hold from doing them too much. ’Tis the case even in the least things, as singing, &c.

In France, he was to dissemble Injuries and Neglects, from one reason; in England he was to dissemble too, though for other Causes; A King upon the Throne hath as great Temptations (though of another kind) to dissemble, as a King in Exile. The King of France might have his Times of Dissembling as much with him, as he could have to do it with the King of France: So he was in a School.

No King can be so little inclined to dissemble but he must needs learn[Pg 14] it from his Subjects, who every Day give him such Lessons of it. Dissimulation is like most other Qualities, it hath two Sides; it is necessary, and yet it is dangerous too. To have none at all layeth a Man open to Contempt, to have too much exposeth him to Suspicion, which is only the less dishonourable Inconvenience. If a Man doth not take very great Precautions, he is never so much shewed as when he endeavoureth to hide himself. One Man cannot take more pains to hide himself, than another will do to see into him, especially in the Case of Kings.

It is none of the exalted Faculties of the Mind, since there are Chamber-Maids will do it better than any Prince in Christendom. Men given to dissembling are like Rooks at play, they will cheat for Shillings[Pg 15] they are so used to it. The vulgar Definition of Dissembling is downright Lying; that kind of it which is less ill-bred cometh pretty near it. Only Princes and Persons of Honour must have gentler Words given to their Faults, than the nature of them may in themselves deserve.

Princes dissemble with too many, not to have it discovered; no wonder then that He carried it so far that it was discovered. Men compared Notes, and got Evidence; so that those whose Morality would give them leave, took it for an Excuse for serving him ill. Those who knew his Face, fixed their Eyes there; and thought it of more Importance to see, than to hear what he said. His Face was as little a Blab as most Mens, yet though it could not be called a prattling Face, it would sometimes tell Tales to a good [Pg 16]Observer. When he thought fit to be angry, he had a very peevish Memory; there was hardly a Blot that escaped him. At the same time that this shewed the Strength of his Dissimulation, it gave warning too; it fitted his present Purpose, but it made a Discovery that put Men more upon their Guard against him. Only Self-flattery furnisheth perpetual Arguments to trust again: The comfortable Opinion Men have of themselves keepeth up Human Society, which would be more than half destroyed without it.


III. His Amours, Mistresses, &c.

It may be said that his Inclinations to Love were the Effects of Health, and a good Constitution, with as little mixture of the [Pg 17]Seraphick part as ever Man had: And though from that Foundation Men often raise their Passions; I am apt to think his stayed as much as any Man’s ever did in the lower Region. This made him like easy Mistresses: They were generally resigned to him while he was abroad, with an implied Bargain. Heroick refined Lovers place a good deal of their Pleasure in the Difficulty, both for the vanity of Conquest, and as a better earnest of their Kindness.

After he was restored, Mistresses were recommended to him; which is no small matter in a Court, and not unworthy the Thoughts even of a Party. A Mistress either dexterous in herself, or well-instructed by those that are so, may be very useful to her Friends, not only in the immediate Hours of her Ministry, but by[Pg 18] her Influences and Insinuations at other times. It was resolved generally by others, whom he should have in his Arms, as well as whom he should have in his Councils. Of a Man who was so capable of choosing, he chose as seldom as any Man that ever lived.

He had more properly, at least in the beginning of his Time, a good Stomach to his Mistresses, than any great Passion for them. His taking them from others was never learnt in a Romance; and indeed fitter for a Philosopher than a Knight-Errant. His Patience for their Frailties shewed him no exact Lover. It is a Heresy according to a true Lover’s Creed, ever to forgive an Infidelity, or the Appearance of it. Love of Ease will not do it, where the Heart is much engaged; but where mere Nature is the Motive,[Pg 19] it is possible for a Man to think righter than the common opinion, and to argue, that a Rival taketh away nothing but the Heart, and leaveth all the rest.

In his latter Times he had no Love, but insensible Engagements that made it harder than most might apprehend to untie them. The Politicks might have their part; a Secret, a Commission, a Confidence in critical Things, though it doth not give a Lease for a precise term of Years, yet there may be Difficulties in dismissing them; there may be no Love all the while; perhaps the contrary.

He was said to be as little constant as they were thought to be. Though he had no Love, he must have some Appetite, or else he could not keep them for meer ease, or for the Love of sauntring; Mistresses are frequently apt to be uneasy;[Pg 20] they are in all Respects craving Creatures; so that though the taste of those Joys might be flattened, yet a Man who loved Pleasure so as to be very unwilling to part with it, might (with the Assistance of his Fancy, which doth not grow old so fast) reserve some supplemental Entertainments, that might make their personal Service be still of use to him. The Definition of Pleasure, is what pleaseth, and if that which grave Men may call a corrupted Fancy, shall adminster any Remedies for putting off mourning for the loss of Youth, who shall blame it?

The young Men seldom apply their censure to these Matters; and the elder have an Interest to be gentle towards a Mistake, that seemeth to make some kind of amends for their Decays.

[Pg 21]He had Wit enough to suspect, and he had Wit enough too not to care: The Ladies got a great deal more than would have been allowed to be an equal bargain in Chancery, for what they did for it; but neither the manner, nor the measure of Pleasure is to be judged by others.

Little Inducements at first grew into strong Reasons by degrees. Men who do not consider Circumstances, but judge at a distance, by a general way of arguing, conclude if a Mistress in some Cases is not immediately turned off, it must needs be that the Gallant is incurably subjected. This will by no means hold in private Men, much less in Princes, who are under more Entanglements, from which they cannot so easily loosen themselves.

His Mistresses were as different in their Humours, as they were in their[Pg 22] Looks. They gave Matter of very different Reflections. The last[3] especially was quite out of the Definition of an ordinary Mistress; the Causes and the Manner of her being first introduced were very different. A very peculiar Distinction was spoken of, same extraordinary Solemnities that might dignify, though not sanctify her Function. Her Chamber was the true Cabinet Council. The King did always by his Councils, as he did sometimes by his Meals; he sat down out of form with the Queen, but he supped below Stairs. To have the Secrets of a King, who happens to have too many, is to have a King in Chains: He must not only, not part with her, but he must in his own Defence dissemble his dislike: The less kindness he hath, the more he must[Pg 23] shew: There is great difference between being muffled, and being tied: He was the first, not the last. If he had quarelled at some times, besides other Advantages, this Mistress had a powerful Second; (one may suppose a kind of a Guarantee) this to a Man that loved his Ease, though his Age had not helped, was sufficient.

The thing called Sauntering, is a stronger Temptation to Princes than it is to others. The being galled with Importunities, pursued from one Room to another with asking Faces; the dismal Sound of unreasonable Complaints, and ill-grounded Pretences; the Deformity of Fraud ill-disguised; all these would make any Man run away from them; and I used to think it was the Motive for making him walk so fast. So it was more properly taking Sanctuary. To get into a Room, where all[Pg 24] Business was to stay at the Door, excepting such as he was disposed to admit, might be very acceptable to a younger Man than he was, and less given to his Ease. He slumbered after Dinner, had the noise of the Company to divert him, without their Solicitations to importune him. In these Hours where he was more unguarded, no doubt the cunning Men of the Court took their times to make their Observations, and there is as little doubt but he made his upon them too: Where Men had Chinks he would see through them as soon as any Man about him. There was much more real Business done there in his Politick, than there was in his personal Capacity, Stans pede in uno; and there was the French part of the Government, which was not the least.

[Pg 25]In short, without endeavouring to find more Arguments, he was used to it. Men do not care to put off a Habit, nor do often succeed when they go about it. His was not an unthinkingness; he did not perhaps think so much of his Subjects as they might wish; but he was far from being wanting to think of himself.


IV. His Conduct to his Ministers.

He lived with his Ministers as he did with his Mistresses; he used them, but he was not in love with them. He shewed his Judgment in this, that he cannot properly be said ever to have had a Favourite, though some might look so at a distance. The present use he might have of them, made him throw [Pg 26]Favours upon them, which might lead the lookers on into that mistake; but he tied himself no more to them, than they did to him, which implied a sufficient Liberty on either side.

Perhaps he made dear Purchases: If he seldom gave profusely, but where he expected some unreasonable thing, great Rewards were material Evidences against those who received them.

He was free of access to them, which was a very gaining Quality. He had at least as good a Memory for the Faults of his Ministers as for their Services; and whenever they fell, the whole Inventory came out; there was not a slip omitted.

That some of his Ministers seemed to have a Superiority, did not spring from his Resignation to them, but to his Ease. He chose rather to be eclipsed than to be troubled.

[Pg 27]His Brother was a Minister, and he had his Jealousies of him. At the same time that he raised him, he was not displeased to have him lessened. The cunning Observers found this out, and at the same time that he reigned in the Cabinet, he was very familiarly used at the private Supper.

A Minister turned off is like a Lady’s Waiting-Woman, that knoweth all her Washes, and hath a shrewd guess at her Strayings: So there is danger in turning them off, as well as in keeping them.

He had back Stairs to convey Informations to him, as well as for other Uses; and though such Informations are sometimes dangerous, (especially to a Prince that will not take the pains necessary to digest them) yet in the main, that humour of hearing every body against any[Pg 28] body, kept those about him in more awe, than they would have been without it. I do not believe that ever he trusted any Man, or any set of Men so entirely, as not to have some Secrets, in which they had no share: As this might make him less well served, so in same degree it might make him the less imposed upon.

You may reckon under this Article his Female Ministry; for though he had Ministers of the Council, Ministers of the Cabinet, and Ministers of the Ruelle; the Ruelle was often the last Appeal. Those who were not well there, were used because they were necessary at the time, not because they were liked; so that their Tenure was a little uncertain. His Ministers were to administer Business to him as Doctors do Physick, wrap it up in something to make it less unpleasant; some skilful Digressions[Pg 29] were so far from being Impertinent, that they could not many times fix him to a fair Audience without them. His aversion to Formality made him dislike a serious Discourse, if very long, except it was mixed with something to entertain him. Some even of the graver sort too, used to carry this very far, and rather than fail, use the coarsest kind of youthful talk.

In general, he was upon pretty even Terms with his Ministers, and could as easily bear their being hanged as some of them could his being abused.


V. Of his Wit and Conversation.

His wit consisted chiefly in the quickness of his Apprehension. His Apprehension made him find[Pg 30] Faults, and that led him to short Sayings upon them, not always equal, but often very good.

By his being abroad, he contracted a Habit of conversing familiarly, which added to his natural Genius, made him very apt to talk; perhaps more than a very nice judgment would approve.

He was apter to make broad Allusions upon any thing that gave the least occasion, than was altogether suitable with the very Good-breeding he shewed in most other things. The Company he kept whilst abroad, had so used him to that sort of Dialect, that he was so far from thinking it a Fault or an Indecency, that he made it a matter of Rallery upon those who could not prevail upon themselves to join in it. As a Man who hath a good Stomach loveth generally to talk of Meat, so in the[Pg 31] vigour of his Age, he began that style, which by degrees grew so natural to him, that after he ceased to do it out of Pleasure, he continued to do it out of Custom. The Hypocrisy of the former Times inclined Men to think they could not shew too great an Aversion to it, and that helped to encourage this unbounded liberty of Talking, without the Restraints of Decency which were before observed. In his more familiar Conversations with the Ladies, even they must be passive, if they would not enter into it. How far Sounds as well as Objects may have their Effects to raise Inclination, might be an Argument to him to use that Style; or whether using Liberty at its full stretch, was not the general Inducement without any particular Motives to it.

[Pg 32]The manner of that time of telling Stories, had drawn him into it; being commended at first for the Faculty of telling a Tale well, he might insensibly be betrayed to exercise it too often. Stories are dangerous in this, that the best expose a Man most, by being oftenest repeated. It might pass for an Evidence for the Moderns against the Ancients, that it is now wholly left off by all that have any pretence to be distinguished by their good Sense.

He had the Improvements of Wine, &c. which made him pleasant and easy in Company; where he bore his part, and was acceptable even to those who had no other Design than to be merry with him.

The Thing called Wit, a Prince may taste, but it is dangerous for him to take too much of it; it hath Allurements which by refining his[Pg 33] Thoughts, take off from their dignity, in applying them less to the governing part. There is a Charm in Wit, which a Prince must resist: and that to him was no easy matter; it was contesting with Nature upon Terms of Disadvantage.

His Wit was not so ill-natured as to put Men out of countenance. In the case of a King especially, it is more allowable to speak sharply of them, than to them.

His Wit was not acquired by Reading; that which he had above his original Stock by Nature, was from Company, in which he was very capable to observe. He could not so properly be said to have a Wit very much raised, as a plain, gaining, well-bred, recommending kind of Wit.

But of all Men that ever liked those who had Wit, he could the[Pg 34] best endure those who had none. This leaneth more towards a Satire than a Compliment, in this respect, that he could not only suffer Impertinence, but at sometimes seemed to be pleased with it.

He encouraged some to talk a good deal more with him, than one would have expected from a Man of so good a Taste: He should rather have order’d his Attorney-General to prosecute them for a Misdemeanour, in using Common-sense so scurvily in his Presence. However, if this was a Fault, it is arrogant for any of his Subjects to object to it, since it would look like defying such a piece of Indulgence. He must in some degree loosen the Strength of his Wit, by his Condescension to talk with Men so very unequal to him. Wit must be used to some Equality, which[Pg 35] may give it Exercise, or else it is apt either to languish, or to grow a little vulgar, by reigning amongst Men of a lower Size, where there is no Awe to keep a Man upon his guard.

It fell out rather by Accident than Choice, that his Mistresses were such as did not care that Wit of the best kind should have the Precedence in their Apartments. Sharp and strong Wit will not always be so held in by Good-manners, as not to be a little troublesome in a Ruelle. But wherever Impertinence hath Wit enough left to be thankful for being well used, it will not only be admitted, but kindly received; such Charms every thing hath that setteth us off by Comparison.

His Affability was a Part, and perhaps not the least, of his Wit.

[Pg 36]It is a Quality that must not always spring from the Heart, Mens Pride, as well as their Weakness, maketh them ready to be deceived by it: They are more ready to believe it a Homage paid to their Merit, than a Bait thrown out to deceive them. Princes have a particular Advantage.

There was at first as much of Art as Nature in his Affability, but by Habit it became Natural. It is an Error of the better hand, but the Universality taketh away a good deal of the Force of it. A Man that hath had a kind Look seconded with engaging Words, whilst he is chewing the Pleasure, if another in his Sight should be just received as kindly, that Equality would presently after the Relish: The Pride of Mankind will have Distinction; till at last it cometh to Smile for[Pg 37] Smile, meaning nothing of either Side; without any kind of Effect; mere Drawing-room Compliments; the Bow alone would be better without them. He was under some Disadvantages of this kind, that grew still in proportion as it came by Time to be more known, that there was less Signification in those Things than at first was thought.

The Familiarity of his Wit must needs have the Effect of lessening the Distance fit to be kept to him. The Freedom used to him whilst abroad, was retained by those who used it longer than either they ought to have kept it, or he have suffered it, and others by their Example learned to use the same. A King of Spain that will say nothing but Tiendro cuydado, will, to the generality, preserve more Respect;[Pg 38] an Engine that will speak but sometimes, at the same time that it will draw the Raillery of the Few who judge well, it will create Respect in the ill-judging Generality. Formality is sufficiently revenged upon the World for being so unreasonably laughed at; it is destroyed it is true, but it hath the spiteful Satisfaction of seeing every thing destroyed with it.

His fine Gentlemanship did him no Good, encouraged in it by being too much applauded.

His Wit was better suited to his Condition before he was restored than afterwards. The Wit of a Gentleman, and that of a crowned Head, ought to be different things. As there is a Crown Law, there is a Crown Wit too. To use it with Reserve is very good, and very rare. There is a Dignity in doing things[Pg 39] seldom even without any other Circumstance. Where Wit will run continually, the Spring is apt to fail; so that it groweth vulgar, and the more it is practiced, the more it is debased.

He was so good at finding out other Mens weak Sides, that it made him less intent to cure his own: That generally happeneth. It may be called a treacherous Talent, for it betrayeth a Man to forget to judge himself, by being so eager to censure others: This doth so misguide Men the first Part of their Lives, that the Habit of it is not easily recovered, when the greater Ripeness of their judgment inclineth them to look more into themselves than into other Men.

Men love to see themselves in the false Looking-glass of other Mens Failings. It maketh a Man think[Pg 40] well of himself at the time, and by sending his Thoughts abroad to get Food for Laughing, they are less at leisure to see Faults at home. Men choose rather to make the War in another Country, than to keep all well at home.


VI. His Talents, Temper, Habits, &c.

He had a Mechanical Head, which appeared in his Inclination to Shipping and Fortification, &c. This would make one conclude, that his Thoughts would naturally have been more fixed to Business, if his Pleasures had not drawn them away from it.

He had a very good Memory, though he would not always make equal good Use of it. So that if he[Pg 41] had accustomed himself to direct his Faculties to his Business, I see no Reason why he might not have been a good deal Master of it. His Chain of Memory was longer than his Chain of Thought; the first could bear any Burden, the other was tired by being carried on too long; it was fit to ride a Heat, but it had not Wind enough for a long Course.

A very great Memory often forgetteth how much Time is lost by repeating things of no Use. It was one Reason of his talking so much; since a great Memory will always have something to say, and will be discharging itself, whether in or out of Season, if a good Judgment doth not go along with it, to make it stop and turn. One might say of his Memory, that it was a Beauté Journaliere: Sometimes he would[Pg 42] make shrewd Applications, &c. at others he would bring things out of it, that never deferred to be laid in it.

He grew by Age into a pretty exact Distribution of his Hours, both for his Business, Pleasures, and the Exercise for his Health, of which he took as much care as could possibly consist with some Liberties he was resolved to indulge in himself. He walked by his Watch, and when he pulled it out to look upon it, skilful Men would make haste with what they had to say to him.

He was often retained in his personal against his politick Capacity. He would speak upon those Occasions most dexterously against himself; Charles Stuart would be bribed against the King; and in the Distinction, he leaned more to his natural Self; than his Character would[Pg 43] allow. He would not suffer himself to be so much fettered by his Character as was convenient; he was still starting out of it, the Power of Nature was too strong for the Dignity of his Calling, which generally yielded as often as there was a contest.

It was not the best use he made of his Back-stairs to admit Men to bribe him against himself, to procure a Defalcation, help a lame Accountant to get off, or side with the Farmers against the Improvement of the Revenue. The King was made the Instrument to defraud the Crown, which is somewhat extraordinary.

That which might tempt him to it probably was, his finding that those about him so often took Money upon those Occasions; so that he thought he might do well at least[Pg 44] to be a Partner. He did not take the Money to hoard it; there were those at Court who watched those Times, as the Spaniards do for the coming in of the Plate Fleet. The Beggars of both Sexes helped to empty his Cabinet, and to leave room in them for a new lading upon the next Occasion. These Negotiators played double with him too, when it was for their purpose so to do. He knew it, and went on still; so he gained his present end, at the time, he was less solicitous to enquire into the Consequences.

He could not properly be said to be either covetous or liberal; his desire to get was not with an Intention to be rich; and his spending was rather an Easiness in letting Money go, than any premeditated Thought for the Distribution of it. He would do as much to throw off the burden[Pg 45] of a present Importunity, as he would to relieve a want.

When once the Aversion to bear Uneasiness taketh place in a Man’s Mind, it doth so check all the Passions, that they are dampt into a kind of Indifference; they grow faint and languishing, and come to be subordinate to that fundamental Maxim, of not purchasing any thing at the price of a Difficulty. This made that he had as little Eagerness to oblige, as he had to hurt Men; the Motive of his giving Bounties was rather to make Men less uneasy to him, than more easy to themselves; and yet no ill-nature all this while. He would slide from an asking Face, and could guess very well. It was throwing a Man off from his Shoulders, that leaned upon them with his whole weight; so that the Party was not glader to receive, than he[Pg 46] to give. It was a kind of implied bargain; though Men seldom kept it, being so apt to forget the advantage they had received, that they would presume the King would as little remember the good he had done them, so as to make it an Argument against their next Request.

This Principle of making the love of Ease exercise an entire Sovereignty in his thoughts, would have been less censured in a private Man, than might be in a Prince. The Consequence of it to the Publick changeth the Nature of that Quality, or else a Philosopher in his private Capacity might say a great deal to justify it. The truth is, a King is to be such a distinct Creature from a Man, that their Thoughts are to be put in quite a differing Shape, and it is such a disquieting task to reconcile them,[Pg 47] that Princes might rather expect to be lamented than to be envied, for being in a Station that exposeth them, if they do not do more to answer Mens Expectations than human Nature will allow.

That Men have the less Ease for their loving it so much, is so far from a wonder, that it is a natural Consequence, especially in the case of a Prince. Ease is seldom got without some pains, but it is yet seldomer kept without them. He thought giving would make Men more easy to him, whereas he might have known it would certainly make them more troublesome.

When Men receive Benefits from Princes, they attribute less to his Generosity than to their own Deserts; so that in their own Opinion, their Merit cannot be bounded; by that mistaken Rule, it can as little[Pg 48] be satisfied. They would take it for a diminution to have it circumscribed. Merit hath a Thirst upon it that can never be quenched by golden Showers. It is not only still ready, but greedy to receive more. This King Charles found in as many Instances as any Prince that ever reigned, because the Easiness of Access introducing the good Success of their first Request, they were the more encouraged to repeat those Importunities, which had been more effectually stopt in the Beginning by a short and resolute Denial. But his Nature did not dispose him to that Method, it directed him rather to put off the troublesome Minute for the time, and that being his Inclination, he did not care to struggle with it.

I am of an Opinion, in which I am every Day more confirmed by[Pg 49] Observation, that Gratitude is one of those things that cannot be bought. It must be born with Men, or else all the Obligations in the World will not create it. An outward Shew may be made to satisfy Decency, and to prevent Reproach; but a real Sense of a kind thing is a Gift of Nature, and never was, nor can be acquired.

The Love of Ease is an Opiate, it is pleasing for the time, quieteth the Spirits, but it hath its Effects that seldom fail to be most fatal. The immoderate Love of Ease maketh a Man’s Mind pay a passive Obedience to any thing that happeneth: It reduceth the Thoughts from having Desire to be content.

It must be allowed he had a little Over-balance on the well-natured Side, not Vigour enough to be earnest to do a kind Thing,[Pg 50] much less to do a harsh one; but if a hard thing was done to another Man, he did not eat his Supper the worse for it. It was rather a Deadness than Severity of Nature, whether it proceeded from a Dissipation of Spirits, or by the Habit of Living in which he was engaged.

If a King should be born with more Tenderness than might suit with his Office, he would in time be hardned. The Faults of his Subjects make Severity so necessary, that by the frequent Occasions given to use it, it comes to be habitual, and by degrees the Resistance that Nature made at first groweth fainter, till at last it is in a manner quite extinguished.

In short, this Prince might more properly be said to have Gifts than Virtues, as Affability, Easiness of[Pg 51] Living, Inclinations to give, and to forgive: Qualities that flowed from his Nature rather than from his Virtue.

He had not more Application to any thing than the Preservation of his Health; it had an intire Preference to any thing else in his Thoughts, and he might be said without Aggravation to study that, with as little Intermission as any Man in the World. He understood it very well, only in this he failed, that he thought it was more reconcilable with his Pleasures, than it really was. It is natural to have such a Mind to reconcile these, that ’tis the easier for any Man that goeth about it, to be guilty of that Mistake.

This made him overdo in point of Nourishment, the better to furnish to those Entertainments; and then[Pg 52] he thought by great Exercise to make Amends, and to prevent the ill Effects of his Blood being too much raised. The Success he had in this Method, whilst he had Youth and Vigour to support him in it, encouraged him to continue it longer than Nature allowed. Age stealeth so insensibly upon us, that we do not think of suiting our way of Reasoning to the several Stages of Life; so insensibly that not being able to pitch upon any precise Time, when we cease to be young, we either flatter ourselves that we always continue to be so, or at least forget how much we are mistaken in it.

 [Pg 53]

VII. Conclusion.

After all this, when some rough Strokes of the Pencil have made several Parts of the Picture look a little hard, it is a Justice that would be due to every Man, much more to a Prince, to make same Amends, and to reconcile Men as much as may be to it by the last finishing.

He had as good a Claim to a kind Interpretation as most Men. First as a Prince: living and dead, generous and well-bred Men will be gentle to them; next as an unfortunate Prince in the beginning of his Time, and a gentle one in the rest.

A Prince neither sharpened by his Misfortunes whilst Abroad, nor by his Power when restored, is such a shining Character, that it[Pg 54] is a Reproach not to be so dazzled with it, as not to be able to see a Fault in its full Light. It would be a Scandal in this Case to have an exact Memory. And if all who are akin to his Vices, should mourn for him, never Prince would be better attended to his Grave. He is under the Protection of common Frailty, that must engage Men for their own sakes not to be too severe, where they themselves have so much to answer.

What therefore an angry Philosopher would call Lewdness, let frailer Men call a Warmth and Sweetness of the Blood, that would not be confined in the communicating itself; an over-flowing of Good-nature, of which he had such a Stream, that it would not be restrained within the Banks of a crabbed and unsociable Virtue.

[Pg 55]If he had sometimes less Firmness than might have been wished; let the kindest Reason be given, and if that should be wanting, the best Excuse. I would assign the Cause of it to be his loving at any rate to be easy, and his deserving the more to be indulged in it, by his desiring that every body else should be so.

If he sometimes let a Servant fall, let it be examined whether he did not weigh so much upon his Master, as to give him a fair Excuse. That Yieldingness, whatever Foundations it might lay to the Disadvantage of Posterity, was a Specifick to preserve us in Peace for his own Time. If he loved too much to lie upon his own Down-bed of Ease, his Subjects had the Pleasure, during his Reign, of lolling and stretching upon theirs. As a Sword is sooner broken upon a[Pg 56] Feather-bed than upon a Table, so his Pliantness broke the blow of a present Mischief much better than a more immediate Resistance would perhaps have done.

Ruin saw this, and therefore removed him first to make way for further Overturnings.

If he dissembled; let us remember, first, that he was a King, and that Dissimulation is a Jewel of the Crown; next, that it is very hard for a Man not to do sometimes too much of that, which he concludeth necessary for him to practice. Men should consider, that as there would be no false Dice, is there were no true ones, so if Dissembling is grown universal, it ceaseth to be soul play, having an implied Allowance by the general Practice. He that was so often forced to dissemble in his own Defence, might the better have the privilege[Pg 57] sometimes to be the Aggressor, and to deal with Men at their own Weapon.

Subjects are apt to be as arbitrary in their Censure, as the most assuming Kings can be in their Power. If there might be matter for Objections, there is not less reason for Excuses; The Defects laid to his Charge, are such as may claim Indulgence from Mankind.

Should no body throw a Stone at his Faults but those who are free from them, there would be but a slender Shower.

What private Man will throw Stones at him because he loved? Or what Prince, because he dissembled?

If he either trusted, or forgave his Enemies, or in some Cases neglected his Friends, more than could in Strictness be allowed; let not those Errors be so arraigned as take away[Pg 58] the Privilege that seemeth to be due to Princely Frailties. If Princes are under the Misfortune of being accused to govern ill, their Subjects have the less right to fall hard upon them, since they generally so little deserve to be governed well.

The truth is, the Calling of a King, with all its glittering, hath such an unreasonable weight upon it, that they may rather expect to be lamented, than to be envied; for being set upon a Pinacle, where they are exposed to Censure, if they do not do more to answer Mens Expectations, than corrupted Nature will allow.

It is but Justice therefore to this Prince, to give all due Softenings to the less shining Parts of his Life; to offer Flowers and Leaves to hide, instead of using Aggravations to expose them.[Pg 59]

Let his Royal Allies than lie soft upon him, and cover him from harsh and unkind Censures; which though they should not be unjust, can never clear themselves from being indecent.

[Pg 60]



[Pg 61]

Political, Moral and Miscellaneous

Thoughts and Reflections,

By the Marquis of Halifax.

[Pg 62]



[Pg 63]

Political Thoughts


Of Fundamentals.

Every Party, when they find a Maxim for their turn, they presently call it a Fundamental, they think they nail it with a Peg of Iron, whereas in truth they only tie it with a wisp of Straw.

The word soundeth so well that the Impropriety of it hath been the less observed. But as weighty as the word appeareth, no Feather hath been more blown about in the World than this word, Fundamental.

It is one of those Mistakes that at sometimes may be of use, but it is a Mistake still.

[Pg 64]Fundamental is used as Men use their Friends; commend them when they have need of them, and when they fall out, find a hundred Objections to them.

Fundamental is a Pedestal that Men set every thing upon that they would not have broken. It is a Nail every body would use to fix that which is good for them: for all Men would have that Principle to be immoveable, that serves their use at the time.

Every thing that is created is Mortal, ergo all Fundamentals of human Creation will die.

A true Fundamental must be like the Foundation of a House; if it is undermined the whole House falleth.

The Fundamentals in Divinity have been changed in several Ages of the World.

[Pg 65]They have made no difficulty in the several Councils, to destroy and excommunicate Men for asserting Things that at other Times were called Fundamentals.

Philosophy, Astronomy, &c. have changed their Fundamentals as the Men of Art no doubt called them at the time. Motion of the Earth, &c.

Even in Morality one may more properly say, There should be Fundamentals allowed, than that there are any which in Strictness can be maintained.

However this is the least uncertain Foundation: Fundamental is less improperly applied here than any where else.

Wise and good Men will in all Ages stick to some Fundamentals, look upon them as sacred, and preserve an inviolable Respect for them;[Pg 66] but Mankind in general make Morality a more malleable thing than it ought to be.

There is then no certain Fundamental but in Nature, and yet there are Objections too. It is a Fundamental in Nature that the Son should not kill the Father, and yet the Senate of Venice gave a Reward to a Son who brought in his Father’s Head, according to a Proclamation.

Salus Populi is an unwritten Law, yet that doth not hinder but that it is sometimes very visible; and as often as it is so, it supersedeth all other Laws which are subordinate Things compared.

The great Punishments upon Self-murder, are Arguments that it was rather a tempting Sin to be discouraged than an unnatural Act.

[Pg 67]It is a Fundamental that where a Man intendeth no hurt he should receive none, yet Manslaughter, &c. are Cases of Mercy.

That a Boy under Ten shall not suffer Death, yet where Malitia supplet ætatem, otherwise.

That there were Witches—much shaken of late.

That the King is not to be deceived in his Grant—The practical Fundamental the contrary.

That what is given to God cannot be alienated. Yet in practice it is, Treaties, &c. and even by the Church itself, when they get a better bargain by it.

I can make no other Definition of a true Fundamental than this: viz. That whatever a Man hath a desire to do or to hinder, if he hath uncontested and irresistable Power to[Pg 68] effect it, that he will certainly do it.

If he thinketh he hath that Power, though he hath it not, he will certainly go about it.

Some would define a Fundamental to be the settling the Laws of Nature and common Equity in such a sort as that they may be well administered: even in this case there can be nothing fixed, but it must vary for the Good of the whole.

A Constitution cannot make itself; some body made it, not at once but at several times. It is alterable; and by that draweth nearer Perfection; and without suiting itself to differing Times and Circumstances, it could not live. Its Life is prolonged by changing seasonably the several Parts of it at several times.

The Reverence that is given to a Fundamental, in a general unintelligible[Pg 69] Notion, would be much better applyed to that Supremacy or Power which is set up in every Nation in differing Shapes, that altereth the Constitution as often as the Good of the People requireth it.

Neither King nor People would now like just the original Constitution, without any varyings.

If Kings are only answerable to God, that doth not secure them even in this World; since if God upon the Appeal thinketh fit not to stay, he maketh the People his Instruments.

I am persuaded that where ever any single Man had Power to do himself right upon a deceitful Trustee, he would do it. That Thought well digested would go a great way towards the discouraging Invasions upon Rights, &c.

[Pg 70]I lay down then as a Fundamental, 1st, that in every Constitution there is some Power which neither will nor ought to be bounded.

2. That the King’s Prerogative should be as plain a thing as the People’s Obedience.

3. That a Power which may by parity of Reason destroy the whole Laws, can never be reserved by the Laws.

4. That in all limited Governments it must give the Governor Power to hurt, but it can never be so interpreted as to give him Power to destroy, for then in effect it would cease to be a limited Government.

5. That Severity be rare and great; for as Tacitus sayeth of Nero, “Frequent Punishments made the People call even his Justice Cruelty.”

6. That it is necessary to make the Instruments of Power easy; for[Pg 71] Power is hard enough to be digested by those under it at the best.

7. That the People are never so perfectly backed, but that they will kick and sting if not stroked at seasonable times.

8. That a Prince must think if he loseth his People he can never regain them.

It is both wise and safe to think so.

9. That Kings assuming Prerogative teach the People to do so too.

10. That Perogative is a Trust.

11. That they are not the King’s Laws, nor the Parliament’s Laws, but the Laws of England, in which after they have passed by the Legislative Power, the People have the Property, and the King the Executive part.

12. That no Abilities should qualify a noted Knave to be employed in Business. A Knave can[Pg 72] by none of his Dexterities make amends for the Scandal he bringeth upon the Crown.

13. That those who will not be bound by the Laws, rely upon Crimes: a third way was never found in the World to secure any Government.

14. That a Seaman be a Seaman; a Cabinet-Counsellor a Man of Business; an Officer, an Officer.

15. In corrupted Governments the Place is given for the sake of the Man; in good ones the Man is chosen for the sake of the Place.

16. That Crowds at Court are made up of such as would deceive: The real Worshippers are few.

17. That Salus Populi is the greatest of all Fundamentals, yet not altogether an immoveable one. It is a Fundamental for a Ship to ride at Anchor when it is in Port, but if[Pg 73] a Storm cometh the Cable must be cut.

18. Property is not a fundamental Right in one Sense, because in the beginning of the World there was none, so that Property itself was an Innovation introduced by Laws.

Property is only secured by trusting it in the best Hands, and those are generally chosen who are least likely to deceive; but if they should, they have a legal Authority to abuse as well as use the Power with which they are trusted, and there is no Fundamental can stand in their way, or be allowed as an Exception to the Authority that was vested in them.

19. Magna Charta would fain be made to pass for a Fundamental; and Sir Edward Coke would have it, that the Grand Charter was for the[Pg 74] most part declaratory of the principal Grounds of the fundamental Laws of England.

If that referreth to the Common Law, it must be made out that every thing in Magna Charta is always and at all times necessary in itself to be kept, or else the denying a subsequent Parliament the Right of repealing any Law doth by consequence deny the preceding Parliament the Right of making it. But they are fain to say it was only a declarative Law, which is very hard to be proved. Yet suppose it, you must either make the Common Law so stated a thing that all Men know it before-hand, or else universally acquiesce in it whenever it is alledged, from the Affinity it hath to the Law of Nature. Now I would fain know whether the Common Law is capable of being defined, and whether[Pg 75] it doth not hover in the Clouds like the Prerogative, and bolteth out like Lightening to be made use of for some particular Occasion? If so, the Government of the World is left to a thing that cannot be defined; and if it cannot be defined, you know not what it is; so that the supream Appeal is, we know not what. We submit to God Almighty though he is incomprehensible, and yet He hath set down His Methods; but for this World, there can be no Government without a stated Rule, and a Supream Power not to be controled neither by the Dead nor the Living.

The Laws under the Protection of the King govern in the ordinary Administration; the extraordinary Power is in Acts of Parliament, from whence there can be no Appeal but to the same Power at another time.

[Pg 76]To say a Power is Supream, and not Arbitrary, is not Sense. It is acknowledg’d Supream, and therefore, &c.

If the Common Law is Supream, then those are so who judge what is the Common Law; and if none but the Parliament can judge so, there is an end of the Controversy; there is no Fundamental; for the Parliament may judge as they please, that is, they have the Authority, but they may judge against Right, their Power is good, though their Act is ill; no good Man will outwardly resist the one, or inwardly approve the other.

There is then no other Fundamental, but that every Supream Power must be Arbitrary.

Fundamental is a Word used by the Laity, as the Word Sacred is by the Clergy, to fix every thing to[Pg 77] themselves they have a mind to keep; that nobody else may touch it.


Of Princes.

A Prince who will not undergo the Difficulty of Understanding, must undergo the Danger of Trusting.

A wise Prince may gain such an Influence, that his Countenance would be the last Appeal. Where it is not so in some degree, his Authority is precarious.

A Prince must keep up the Power of his Countenance, which is not the least of his Prerogatives.

The Conscience, as well as the Prerogative of a King, must be restrained or loosened as is best for his People.

[Pg 78]It may without Scandal be made of stretching Leather, but it must be drawn by a steady Hand.

A King that lets Intercession prevail, will not be long worshipped.

A Prince used to War getteth a military Logick that is not very well suited to the Civil Administration.

If he maketh War successfully, he groweth into a Demi-God; if without Success, the World throweth him as much below Humanity as they had before set him above it.

A Hero must be sometimes allowed to make bold Strokes, without being fettered by strict Reason.

He is to have some generous Irregularities in his Reasoning, or else he will not be a good Thing of his Kind.

 [Pg 79]

Princes (their Rewards of Servants).

When a Prince giveth any Man a very extravagant Reward, it looketh as if it was rather for an ill thing than a good one.

Both the Giver and Receiver are out of countenance where they are ill suited, and ill applyed.

Serving Princes will make Men proud at first, and humble at last.

Resolving to serve well, and at the same time resolving to please, is generally resolving to do what is not to be done.

A Man that will serve well must often rule the Master so hard that it will hurt him.

It is thought an unsociable Quality in a Court to do ones Duty better than other Men.

[Pg 80]Nothing is less forgiven than setting Patterns Men have no mind to follow.

Men are so unwilling to displease a Prince, that it is as dangerous to inform him right, as to serve him wrong.

Where Men get by pleasing, and lose by serving, the choice is so easy that no body can miss it.


Princes, their Secrets.

Men are so proud of Princes Secrets, that they will not see the danger of them.

When a Prince trusteth a Man with a dangerous Secret, he would not be sorry to hear the Bell toll for him.

 [Pg 81]

Love of the Subjects to a Prince.

The Heart of the Subjects yieldeth but a lean Crop where it is not cultivated by a wise Prince.

The Good-will of the Governed will be starved, if it is not fed by the good Conduct of the Governors.


Suffering for Princes.

Those who merit because they suffered, are so very angry with those that made them suffer, that though their Services may deserve Employment, their Temper rendereth them unfit for it.

 [Pg 82]

Of Ministers.

The World dealeth with Ministers of State as they do with ill Fidlers, ready to kick them down Stairs for playing ill, though few of the Fault-finders understand their Musick enough to be good Judges.

A Minister who undertaketh to make his Master very great, if he faileth, is ruin’d for his folly; if he succeedeth, he is feared for his Skill.

A good Statesman may sometimes mistake as much by being too humble as by being too proud: He must take upon him in order to do his Duty, and not in order to the setting himself out.

A Minister is not to plead the King’s Command for such things as he may in justice be supposed to have directed.

[Pg 83]It is dangerous to serve where the Master hath the Privilege not to be blamed.

It is hard for a Prince to esteem the Parts of a Minister without either envying or fearing them; and less dangerous for a Minister to shew all the Weakness than all the Strength of his Understanding.

There are so many things necessary to make up a good Minister, that no wonder there are so few of them in the World.

There is hardly a rasher thing, than for a Man to venture to be a good Minister.

A Minister of State must have a Spirit of liberal Oeconomy, not a restrained Frugality.

He must enlarge his Family-Soul, and suit it to the bigger Compass of a Kingdom.

[Pg 84]A Prince should be asked, why he will do a thing, but not why he hath done it.

If the Boys were to choose a School-master, it should be one that would not whip them; the same thing if the Courtiers were to choose a Minister.

They would have a great many Play-days, no Rods, and leave to rob Orchards.——The Parallel will hold.


Wicked Ministers.

A Cunning Minister will engage his Master to begin with a small wrong Step, which will insensibly engage him in a great one.

A Man that hath the Patience to go by Steps, may deceive one much wiser than himself.

[Pg 85]State-business is a cruel Trade; Good-nature is a Bungler in it.


Instruments of State-Ministers.

Men in Business are in as much danger from those that work under them, as from those that work against them.

When the Instruments bend under the Weight of their Business, it is like a weak-legg’d Horse that brings his Rider down with him.

As when they are too weak they let a Man fall, so when they are too strong they throw him off.

If Men of Business did not forget how apt their Tools are to break or fail, they would shut up Shop.

They must use things called Men under them, who will spoil the best[Pg 86] Scheme that can be drawn by Human Understanding.

Tools that are blunt cannot cut at all, and those that are sharp are apt to cut in the wrong place.

Great difference between a good Tool and a good Workman.

When the Tools will be Workmen they cut their own Fingers, and every body’s else.


Of the People.

There is more Strength in Union than in Number; witness the People that in all Ages have been scurvily used, because they could so seldom agree to do themselves Right.

The more the weaker, may be as good a Proverb as, The more the merrier.

[Pg 87]A People can no more stand without Government, than a Child can go without Leading-Strings: as old and as big as a Nation is, it can’t go by itself, and must be led. The Numbers that make its Strength, are at the same time the Cause of its Weakness and Incapacity of Acting.

Men have so discovered themselves to one another, that Union is become a mere Word, in reality impracticable.

They trust, or suspect, not upon Reason but ill-grounded Fame; they would be at ease, saved, protected, &c. and give nothing for it.

The lower Sort of Men must be indulged the Consolation of finding fault with those above them; without that, they would be so melancholy, that it would be dangerous, considering their Numbers.

[Pg 88]They are too many to be told of their Mistakes, and for that Reason they are never to be cured of them.

The Body of the People are generally either so dead that they cannot move, or so mad that they cannot be reclaimed: to be neither all in a Flame, nor quite cold, requireth more Reason than great Numbers can ever attain.

The People can seldom agree to move together against a Government, but they can to sit still and let it be undone.

Those that will be Martyrs for the People, must expect to be repayed only by their Vanity, or their Virtue.

A Man that will head the Mob is like a Bull let loose, tyed about with Squibs and Crackers.

He must be half mad that goeth about it, yet at sometimes shall be too hard for all the wise Men in a[Pg 89] Kingdom: For though good Sense speaketh against Madness, yet it is out of Countenance whenever it meets it.

It would be a greater Reproach to the People that their Favour is short-liv’d, if their Malice was not so too.

The Thoughts of the People have no regular Motion, they come out by Starts.

There is an accumulative Cruelty in a number of Men, though none in particular are ill-natured.

The angry Buzz of a Multitude is one of the bloodiest Noises in the World.


Of Government.

An exact Administration, and good choice of proper Instruments doth insensibly make the [Pg 90]Government in a manner absolute without assuming it.

The best Definition of the best Government is, that it hath no Inconveniences but such as are supportable; but Inconveniences there must be.

The Interest of the Governors and the Governed is in reality the same, but by Mistakes on both Sides it is generally very differing. He who is a Courtier by Trade, and the Country Gentleman who will be popular, right or wrong, help to keep up this unreasonable Distinction.

There are as many apt to be angry at being well, as at being ill governed. For most Men to be well governed must be scurvily used.

As Mankind is made, the keeping it in order is an ill-natured Office.

It is like a great Galley where the Officers must be whipping with little[Pg 91] Intermission, if they will do their Duty.

It is in a disorderly Government as in a River, the lightest Things swim at the top.

A Nation is best to be judged by the Government it is under at the time. Mankind is moulded to good or ill, according as the Power over it is well or ill directed. A Nation is a Mass of Dough, it is the Government that kneadeth it into Form.

Where Learning and Trade flourish in a Nation, they produce so much Knowledge, and That so much Equality among Men, that the Greatness of Dependencies is lost, but the Nation in general will be the better for it: For if the Government be wise, it is the more easily governed; if not, the bad Government is the more easily overturned, by Mens being more united against it than when[Pg 92] they depended upon great Men; who might sooner be gained over and weakend by being divided.

There is more reason for allowing Luxury in a Military Government than in another; the perpetual Exercise of War not only excuseth but recommendeth the Entertainments in the Winter. In another it groweth into a Habit of uninterrupted Expences and idle Follies, and the Consequences of them to a Nation become irrecoverable.



If the Clergy did not live like temporal Men, all the Power of Princes could not bring them under the temporal Jurisdiction.

[Pg 93]They who may be said to be of God Almighty’s Houshold, should shew by their Lives that he hath a well disciplined Family.

The Clergy in this Sense, of Divine Institution; that God hath made Mankind so weak that it must be deceived.



It is a strange thing that the way to save Mens Souls should be such a cunning Trade, as to require a skilful Master.

The time spent in praying to God, might be better employed in deserving well from him.

Men think praying the easier Task of the two, and therefore choose it.

The People would not believe in God at all, if they were not permitted to believe wrong in him.

[Pg 94]The several Sorts of Religion in the World are little more than so many spiritual Monopolies.

If their Interests could be reconciled, their Opinions would be so too.

Men pretend to serve God Almighty who doth not need it, but make use of him because they need him.

Factions are like Pirates that set out false Colours, when they come near a Booty Religion is put under Deck.

Most Mens Anger about Religion is as if two Men should quarrel for a Lady, they neither of them care for.

 [Pg 95]

Of Prerogative, Power and Liberty.

A Prerogative that tendeth to the Dissolution of all Laws must be void in itself, felo de se; for a Prerogative is a Law. The reason of any Law is, that no Man’s Will should be a Law.

The King is the Life of the Law, and cannot have a Prerogative that is mortal to it.

The Law is to have a Soul in it, or it is a dead thing. The King is by his Sovereign Power to add Warmth and Vigour to the meaning of the Law. We are by no means to imagine there is such an Antipathy between them, that the Prerogative, like a Basilisk, is to kill the Law, whenever it looks upon it.

The Prince hath very rarely use of his Prerogative, but hath [Pg 96]constantly a great Advantage by the Laws.

They attribute to the Pope indeed, that all the Laws of the Church are in his Breast; but then he hath the Holy Ghost for his learned Counsel, &c.

The People’s Obedience must be plain, and without Evasions. The Prince’s Prerogative should be so too.

King Charles the First made this Answer to the Petition of Right, (to the Observation whereof he held himself obliged in Conscience, as well as of his Prerogative.) “That the People’s Liberties strengthen the King’s Prerogative, and the King’s Prerogative is to defend the People’s Liberties.”

That Prince’s Declarations allow the Original of Government to come[Pg 97] from the People. Prerogative never yet pretended to repealing.

The first ground of Prerogative was to enable the Prince to do good, not to do every thing.

If the ground of a King’s desire of Power be his assurance of himself that he will do no hurt by it; is it not an Argument for Subjects to desire to keep that which they will never abuse?

It must not be such a Prerogative as giveth the Government the Rickets; all the Nourishment to go to the upper part, and the lower starved.

As a Prince is in danger who calleth a stronger than himself to his Assistance; so when Prerogative useth Necessity for an Argument, it calleth in a stronger thing than itself. The same Reason may overturn it. Necessity too is so plain a thing, that every body sees it, so that the [Pg 98]Magistrate hath no great privilege in being the Judge of it. Necessity therefore is a dangerous Argument for Princes, since (wherever it is real) it constitutes every Man a Magistrate, and gives as great a Power of dispensing to every private Man, as a Prince can claim.

It is not so proper to say that Prerogative justifieth Force, as that Force supporteth Prerogative. They have not been such constant Friends, but that they have had terrible Fallings out.

All Powers are of God; and between Permission and Appointment, well considered, there is no real difference.

In a limited Monarchy, Prerogative and Liberty are as jealous of one another as any two neighbouring States can be of their respective Incroachments.

[Pg 99]They ought not to part for small Bickerings, and must bear little Jealousies without breaking for them.

Power is so apt to be insolent, and Liberty to be saucy, that they are very seldom upon good Terms.

They are both so quarrelsome that they will not easily enter into a fair Treaty. For indeed it is hard to bring them together; they ever quarrel at a distance.

Power and Liberty are respectively managed in the World in a manner not suitable to their Value and Dignity.

They are both so abused that it justifieth the Satires that are generally made upon them. And

They are so in Possession of being misapplied, that instead of censuring their being abused, it is more reasonable to wonder whenever they are not so.

[Pg 100]They are perpetually wrestling, and have had their Turns when they have been thrown, to have their Bones broken by it.

If they were not both apt to be out of Breath, there would be no living.

If Prerogative will urge Reason to support it, it must bear Reason when it resisteth it.

It is a Diminution instead of a Glory, to be above treating upon equal Terms with Reason.

If the People were designed to be the sole Property of the supream Magistrate, sure God would have made them of a differing and subordinate Species; as he hath the Beasts, that by the Inferiority of their Nature they might the better submit to the Dominion of Mankind.

If none were to have Liberty but those who understand what it is,[Pg 101] there would not be many freed Men in the World.

When the People contend for their Liberty, they seldom get any thing by their Victory but new Masters.

Liberty can neither be got, nor kept, but by so much Care, that Mankind generally are unwilling to give the Price for it. And therefore, in the Contest between Ease and Liberty, the first hath generally prevailed.


Of Laws.

Laws are generally not understood by three Sorts of Persons, viz. by those that make them, by those that execute them, and by those that suffer, if they break them.

Men seldom understand any Laws but those they feel.

[Pg 102]Precepts, like Fomentations, must be rubbed into us; and with a rough Hand too.

If the Laws could speak for themselves, they would complain of the Lawyers in the first Place.

There is more Learning now required to explain a Law made, than went to the making it.

The Law hath so many Contradictions, and Varyings from itself, that the Law may not improperly be called a Law-breaker.

It is become too changeable a thing to be defined: it is made little less a Mystery than the Gospel.

The Clergy and the Lawyers, like the Free-Masons, may be supposed to take an Oath not to tell the Secret.

The Men of Law have a Biass to their calling in the Interpretations they make of the Law.

 [Pg 103]

Of Parliaments.

The Parliaments are so altered from their original Constitution, that between the Court and the Country, the House, instead of being united, is like Troops of a contrary Party facing one another, and watching their Advantage.

Even the well-meaning Men who have good Sense too, have their Difficulties in an Assembly; what they offer honestly for a good End, will be skilfully improved for an ill one.

It is strange that a gross Mistake should live a Minute in an Assembly; one would expect that it should be immediately stifled by their discerning Faculties. But Practice convinceth that a Mistake is no where better entertained.

[Pg 104]In Parliaments, Men wrangle in behalf of Liberty, that do as little care for it, as they deserve it.

Where the People in Parliament give a good deal of Money in exchange for any thing from the Crown, a wise Prince can hardly have an ill bargain. The present Gift begetteth more; it is a Politick kind of Generation; and whenever a Parliament does not bring forth, it is the Unskilfulness of the Government, that is the cause of the Miscarriage.

Parliaments would bind and limit one another, and enact that such and such things shall not be made Precedents. There is not a word of Sense in this Language, which yet is to be understood the Sense of the Nation, and is printed as solemnly as if it was Sense.

 [Pg 105]

Of Parties.

The best Party is but a kind of a Conspiracy against the rest of the Nation. They put every body else out of their Protection. Like the Jews to the Gentiles, all others are the Offscowrings of the World.

Men value themselves upon their Principles, so as to neglect Practice, Abilities, Industry, &c.

Party cutteth off one half of the World from the other, so that the mutual Improvement of Mens Understanding by conversing, &c. is lost, and Men are half undone, when they lose the advantage of knowing what their Enemies think of them.

It is like Faith without Works; They take it for a Dispensation from[Pg 106] all other Duties, which is the worst kind of dispensing Power.

It groweth to be the Master Thought; the Eagerness against one another at home, being a nearer Object, extinguisheth that which we ought to have against our foreign Enemies; and few Mens Understandings can get above overvaluing the Danger that is nearest, in comparison of that more remote.

It turneth all Thought into talking instead of doing. Men get a habit of being unuseful to the Publick by turning in a Circle of Wrangling and Railing, which they cannot get out of: And it may be remarked, that a speculative Coxcomb is not only unuseful, but mischievous: A practical Coxcomb under discipline may be made use of.

[Pg 107]It maketh a Man thrust his Understanding into a Corner, and confine it till by degrees he destroys it.

Party is generally an Effect of Wantonness, Peace, and Plenty, which beget Humour, Pride, &c. and that is called Zeal and publick Spirit.

They forget insensibly that there is any body in the World but themselves, by keeping no other Company; so they miscalculate cruelly. And thus Parties mistake their Strength by the same reason that private Men overvalue themselves; for we by finding fault with others, build up a partial Esteem of ourselves upon the Foundation of their Mistakes: So Men in Parties find faults with those in the Administration, not without reason, but forget that they would be exposed to the same Objections, and perhaps greater,[Pg 108] if it was their Adversary’s turn to have the fault-finding part.

There are Men who shine in a Faction, and make a Figure by Opposition, who would stand in a worse light, if they had the Preferments they struggle for.

It looketh so like Courage (but nothing that is like is the same) to go to the Extream, that Men are carried away with it, and blown up out of their Senses by the wind of popular Applause.

That which looketh bold is a great Object that the People can discern; But that which is wise is not so easily seen: It is one part of it that it is not seen, but at the End of a Design. Those who are disposed to be wise too late, are apt to be valiant too early.

[Pg 109]Most Men enter into a Party rashly, and retreat from it as shamefully. As they encourage one another at first, so they betray one another at last: And because every Qualification is capable of being corrupted by the Excess, they fall upon the extream, to fix mutual Reproaches upon one another.

Party is little less than an Inquisition, where Men are under such a Discipline in carrying on the common Cause, as leaves no Liberty of private Opinion.

It is hard to produce an Instance where a Party did ever succeed against a Government, except they had a good handle given them.

No original Party ever prevailed in a turn; it brought up something else, but the first Projectors were thrown off.

[Pg 110]If there are two Parties, a Man ought to adhere to that which he disliketh least, though in the whole he doth not approve it: For whilst he doth not list himself in one or the other Party, he is looked upon as such a Straggler, that he is fallen upon by both. Therefore a Man under such a Misfortune of Singularity, is neither to provoke the World, nor disquiet himself, by taking any particular Station.

It becometh him to live in the Shade, and keep his Mistakes from giving Offence; but if they are his Opinions, he cannot put them off as he doth his Cloaths. Happy those who are convinced so as to be of the general Opinions.

Ignorance maketh most Men go into a Party, and Shame keepeth them from getting out of it.

[Pg 111]More Men hurt others, they do not know why, than for any reason.

If there was any Party entirely composed of honest Men, it would certainly prevail; but both the honest Men and the Knaves resolve to turn one another off when the Business is done.

They by turns defame all England, so nobody can be employed that hath not been branded: There are few Things so criminal as a Place.


Of Courts.

The Court may be said to be a Company of well-bred fashionable Beggars.

At Court, if a Man hath too much Pride to be a Creature, he had better stay at home: A Man[Pg 112] who will rise at Court must begin, by creeping upon All-four: A Place at Court, like a Place in Heaven, is to be got by being much upon one’s Knees.

There are hardly two Creatures of a more differing Species than the same Man, when he is pretending to a Place, and when he is in Possession of it.

Mens Industry is spent in receiving the Rents of a Place, there is little left for discharging the Duty of it.

Some Places have such a corrupting Influence upon the Man, that it is a supernatural thing to resist it.

Some Places lye so fair to entertain Corruption, that it looketh like renouncing a due Perquisite, not to go into it.

[Pg 113]If a getting Fool would keep out of Business, he would grow richer in a Court than a Man of Sense.

One would wonder that in a Court where there is so little Kindness, there should be so much whispering.

Men must brag of kind Letters from Court, at the same time that they do not believe one Word of them.

Men at Court think so much of their own Cunning, that they forget other Mens.

After a Revolution, You see the same Men in the Drawing-room, and within a Week the same Flatterers.

 [Pg 114]

Of Punishment.

Wherever a Government knows when to show the Rod, it will not often be put to use it. But between the want of Skill, and the want of Honesty, Faults generally either escape Punishment, or are mended to no Purpose.

Men are not hang’d for stealing Horses, but that Horses may not be stolen.

Wherever a Knave is not punished, an honest Man is laugh’d at.

A Cheat to the Publick is thought infamous, and yet to accuse him is not thought an honourable part. What a Parodox! ’Tis an ill Method, to make the Aggravation of the Crime a Security against the Punishment; so that the Danger is not to rob, but not to rob enough.

[Pg 115]Treason must not be inlayed Work of several Pieces, it must be an entire Piece of itself. Accumulative in that case is a murdering Word, that carrieth Injustice, and no Sense in it.

An Inference, though never so rational, should go no farther than to justify a Suspicion, not so far as to inflict a Punishment. Nothing is so apt to break with Stretching, as an Inference; and nothing so ridiculous, as to see how Fools will abuse one.



[Pg 116]

Moral Thoughts,


Of the World.

It is from the Shortness of Thought, that Men imagine there is any great Variety in the World.

Time hath thrown a Vail upon the Faults of former Ages, or else we should see the same Deformities we condemn in the present Times.

When a Man looketh upon the Rules that are made, he will think there can be no Faults in the World; and when he looketh upon the Faults, there are so many he will be tempted to think there are no Rules.

[Pg 117]They are not to be reconciled, otherwise than by concluding that which is called Frailty is the incurable Nature of Mankind.

A Man that understandeth the World must be weary of it; and a Man who doth not, for that Reason ought not to be pleased with it.

The Uncertainty of what is to come, is suck a dark Cloud, that neither Reason nor Religion can quite break through it; and the Condition of Mankind is to be weary of what we do know, and afraid of what we do not.

The World is beholden to generous Mistakes for the greatest Part of the Good that is done in it.

Our Vices and Virtues couple with one another, and get Children that resemble both their Parents.

If a Man can hardly inquire into a Thing he undervalueth, how[Pg 118] can a Man of good Sense take pains to understand the World?

To understand the World, and to like it, are two things not easily to be reconciled.

That which is called an Able Man is a great Over-valuer of the World, and all that belongeth to it.

All that can be said of him is, that he maketh the best of the General Mistake.

It is the Fools and the Knaves that make the Wheels of the World turn. They are the World; those few who have Sense or Honesty sneak up and down single, but never go in Herds.

To be too much troubled is a worse way of over-valuing the World than the being too much pleased.

A Man that steps aside from the World, and hath leisure to observe it without Interest or Design, thinks[Pg 119] all Mankind as mad as they think him, for not agreeing with them in their Mistakes.


Of Ambition.

The serious Folly of wise Men in over-valuing the World, is as contemptible as any thing they think fit to censure.

The first Mistake belonging to Business is the going into it.

Men make it such a Point of Honour to be fit for Business, that they forget to examine whether Business is fit for a Man of Sense.

There is Reason to think the most celebrated Philosophers would have been Bunglers at Business; but the Reason is because they despised it.

It is not a Reproach but a Compliment to Learning, to say, that[Pg 120] Great Scholars are less fit for Business; since the truth is, Business is so much a lower thing than Learning, that a Man used to the last cannot easily bring his Stomach down to the first.

The Government of the World is a great thing; but it is a very coarse one too, compared with the Fineness of Speculative Knowledge.

The Dependance of a great Man upon a greater, is a Subjection that lower Men cannot easily comprehend.

Ambition hath no Mean, it is either upon all four or upon Tiptoes.

Nothing can be humbler than Ambition, when it is so disposed.

Popularity is a Crime from the Moment it is sought; it is only a Virtue where Men have it whether they will or no.

[Pg 121]It is generally an Appeal to the People from the Sentence given by Men of Sense against them.

It is stepping very low to get very high.

Men by Habit make irregular Stretches of Power, without discerning the Consequence and Extent of them.

Eagerness is apt to overlook Consequences, it is loth to be stopt in its Career; for when Men are in great haste, they see only in a straight Line.


Of Cunning and Knavery.

Cunning is so apt to grow into Knavery, that an honest Man will avoid the Temptation of it. But Men in this Age are half bribed by the Ambition of [Pg 122]circumventing, without any other encouragements. So proud of the Character of being able Men, that they do not care to have their Dexterity confined.

In this Age, when it is said of a Man, He knows how to live, it may be imply’d he is not very honest.

An honest Man must lose so many Occasions of Getting, that the World will hardly allow him the Character of an Able one.

There is however more Wit requisite to be an honest Man, than there is to be a Knave.

The most necessary thing in the World, and yet the least usual, is to reflect that those we deal with, may know how to be as arrant Knaves as ourselves.

The Eagerness of a Knave maketh him often as catchable, as Ignorance maketh a Fool.

[Pg 123]No Man is so much a Fool as not to have Wit enough sometimes to be a Knave; nor any so cunning a Knave, as not to have the Weakness sometimes to play the Fool.

The Mixture of Fool and Knave, maketh up the parti-coloured Creatures that make all the Bustle in the World.

There is not so pleasant a Quarry, as a Knave taken in a Net of his own making.

A Knave leaneth sometimes so hard upon his Impudence, that it breaketh and lets him fall.

Knavery is in such perpetual Motion, that it hath not always Leisure to look to its own Steps; ’tis like sliding upon Scates, no Motion so smooth or swift, but none gives so terrible a Fall.

A Knave loveth Self so heartily, that he is apt to overstrain it: by[Pg 124] never thinking he can get enough, he gets so much less. His thought is like Wine that fretteth with too much fermenting.

The Knaves in every Government are a kind of Corporation; and though they fall out with one another, like all Beasts of Prey, yet upon occasion they unite to support the common Cause.

It cannot be said to be such a Corporation as the Bank of England, but they are a numerous and formidable Body, scarce to be resisted; but the Point is, they can never rely upon one another.

Knaves go chain’d to one another like Slaves in the Gallies, and cannot easily untie themselves from their Company. Their Promises and Honour indeed do not hinder them, but other intangling Circumstances keep ’em from breaking loose.

[Pg 125]If Knaves had not foolish Memories, they would never trust one another so often as they do.

Present Interest, like present Love, maketh all other Friendship look cold to it, but it faileth in the holding.

When one Knave betrayeth another, the one is not to be blamed, nor the other to be pitied.

When they complain of one another as if they were honest Men, they ought to be laugh’d at as if they were Fools.

There are some Cunning-men who yet can scarce be called Rational Creatures; yet they are often more successful than Men of Sense, because those they have to deal with are upon a looser Guard; and their Simplicity maketh their Knavery unsuspected.

[Pg 126]There is no such thing as a venial Sin against Morality, no such thing as a small Knavery: He that carries a small Crime easily, will carry it on when it grows to be an Ox. But the little Knaves are the greater of the two, because they have less the Excuse of Temptation.

Knavery is so humble, and Merit so proud, that the latter is thrown down because it cannot stoop.


Of Folly and Fools.

There are five Orders of Fools, as of Building: 1. The Blockhead, 2. Coxcomb, 3. Vain Blockhead, 4. Grave Coxcomb, and 5. The Half-witted Fellow; this last is of the Composite Order.

The Follies of grave Men have the Precedence of all others, a [Pg 127]ridiculous Dignity, that gives them a Right to be laughed at in the first place.

As the masculine Wit is the strongest, so the masculine Impertinence is the greatest.

The Consequence of a Half-Wit is a Half-Will, there is not Strength enough in the Thought to carry it to the End.

A Fool is naturally recommended to our Kindness by setting us off by the Comparison. Men are grateful to Fools for giving them the Pleasure of contemning them.

But Folly hath a long Tail that is not seen at first: for every single Folly hath a Root, out of which more are ready to sprout; and a Fool hath so unlimited a Power of mistaking, that a Man of Sense can never comprehend to what degree it may extend.

[Pg 128]There are some Fools so low, that they are preferred when they are laught at. Their being named putteth them in the List of Men, which is more than belongeth to them.

One should no more laugh at a contemptible Fool, than at a dead Fly.

The Dissimulation of a Fool should come within the Statute of Stabbing. It giveth no Warning.

A Fool will be rude from the Moment he is allowed to be familiar; he can make no other use of Freedom than to be unmannerly.

Weak Men are apt to be cruel, because they stick at nothing that may repair the ill Effect of their Mistakes.

Folly is often more cruel in the Consequence, than Malice can be in the Intent.

[Pg 129]Many a Man is murthered by the well-meant Mistakes of his unthinking Friends.

A weak Friend, if he will be kind, ought to go no farther than Wishes; if he proffereth either to say, or to do, it is dangerous.

A Man had as good go to Bed to a Razor, as to be intimate with a foolish Friend.

Mistaken Kindness is little less dangerous than premeditated Malice.

A Man hath not the Relief of being angry at the Blows of a mistaken Friend.

A busy Fool is fitter to be shut up than a downright Madman.

A Man that hath only Wit enough not to do Hurt, committeth a Sin if he aimeth at doing Good.

His passive Understanding must not pretend to be active.

[Pg 130]It is a Sin against Nature for such a Man to be meddling.

It is hard to find a Blockhead so wise as to be upon the Defensive; he will be sallying, and then he is sure to be ill used.

If a dull Fool can make a Vow and keep it, never to speak his own Sense, or do his own Business, he may pass a great while for a rational Creature.

A Blockhead is as ridiculous when he talketh, as a Goose is when it flieth.

The grating a Gridiron is not a worse Noise, than the jingling of Words is to a Man of Sense.

It is Ill-manners to silence a Fool, and Cruelty to let him go on.

Most Men make little other use of their Speech than to give evidence against their own Understanding.

[Pg 131]A great Talker may be a Man of Sense, but he cannot be one, who will venture to rely upon him.

There is so much Danger in Talking, that a Man strictly wise can hardly be called a sociable Creature.

The great Expence of Words is laid out in setting ourselves out, or deceiving others; to convince them requireth but a few.

Many Words are always either suspicious or ridiculous.

A Fool hath no Dialogue within himself, the first Thought carrieth him without the Reply of a second.

A Fool will admire or like nothing that he understands, a Man of Sense nothing but what he understands.

Wise Men gain, and poor Men live, by the Superfluities of Fools.

[Pg 132]Till Follies become ruinous, the World is better with than it would be without them.

A Fool is angry that he is the Food of a Knave, forgetting that it is the End of his Creation.


Of Hope.

Hope is a kind Cheat; in the Minute of our Disappointment we are angry, but upon the whole matter there is no Pleasure without it.

It is so much a pleasanter thing than Truth to the greatest Part of the World, that it hath all their Kindness, the other only hath their Respect.

Hope is generally a wrong Guide, though it is very good Company by the way. It brusheth through Hedge[Pg 133] and Ditch till it cometh to a great Leap, and there it is apt to fall and break its Bones.

It would be well if Hopes carried Men only to the top of the Hill, without throwing them afterwards down the Precipice.

The Hopes of a Fool are blind Guides, those of a Man of Sense doubt often of their Way.

Men should do with their Hopes as they do with tame Fowl, cut their Wings that they may not fly over the Wall.

A hoping Fool hath such terrible Falls, that his Brains are turned, though not cured by them.

The Hopes of a Fool are Bullets he throws into the Air, that fall down again and break his Skull.

There can be no entire Disappointment to a wise Man, because he maketh it a Cause of succeeding[Pg 134] another time. A Fool is so unreasonably raised by his Hopes, that he is half dead by a Disappointment: his mistaken Fancy draweth him so high, that when he falleth, he is sure to break his Bones.


Of Anger.

Anger is a better Sign of the Heart than of the Head; it is a breaking out of the Disease of Honesty. Just Anger may be as dangerous as it could be if there was no Provocation to it; for a Knave is not so nice a Casuist but that he will ruin, if he can, any Man that blameth him.

Where Ill-nature is not predominant, Anger will be short-breathed, it cannot hold out a long Course. Hatred can be tired and cloyed as[Pg 135] well as Love: for our Spirits, like our Limbs, are tired with being long in one Posture.

There is a Dignity in Good-sense that is offended and defaced by Anger.

Anger is never without an Argument, but seldom with a good one.

Anger raiseth Invention but it overheateth the Oven.

Anger, like Drink, raiseth a great deal of unmannerly Wit.

True Wit must come by Drops; Anger throweth it out in a Stream, and then it is not likely to be of the best kind.

Ill Language punisheth Anger by drawing a Contempt upon it.

 [Pg 136]

Of Apologies.

It is a dangerous Task to answer Objections, because they are helped by the Malice of Mankind.

A bold Accusation doth at first draw such a general Attention, that it gets the World on its side.

To a Man who hath a mind to find a Fault, an Excuse generally giveth farther hold.

Explaining is generally half confessing.

Innocence hath a very short Style.

When a Jealousy of any kind is once raised, it is as often provoked as cured by any Arguments, let them be never so reasonable.

When Laziness letteth things alone, it is a Disease; but when Skill doth it, it is a Vertue.

[Pg 137]Malice may help a Fool to aggravate, but there must be Skill to know how to extenuate.

To lessen an Object that at the first Sight giveth Offence, requireth a dexterous Hand: There must be Strength as well as Skill to take off the Weight of the first Impression.

When a Man is very unfortunate, it looketh like a saucy thing in him to justify himself.

A Man must stoop sometimes to his ill Star, but he must never lie down to it.

The Vindications Men make of themselves to Posterity would hardly be supported by Good-Sense, if they were not of some Advantage to their own Families.

The defending an ill Thing is more criminal than the doing it, because it wanteth the Excuse of its not being premeditated.

[Pg 138]An Advocate for Injustice is like a Bawd that is worse than her Client who committeth the Sin.

There is hardly any Man so strict as not to vary a little from Truth when he is to make an Excuse.

Not telling all the Truth is hiding it, and that is comforting or abetting a Lye.

A long Vindication is seldom a skilful one.

Long doth at least imply Doubtful in such a Case.

A Fool should avoid the making an Excuse, as much as the committing a Fault; for a Fool’s Excuse is always a second Fault: and whenever he will undertake either to hide or mend a thing, he proclaimeth and spoileth it.

 [Pg 139]

Of Malice and Envy.

Malice is a greater Magnifying-Glass than Kindness.

Malice is of a low Stature, but it hath very long Arms. It often reacheth into the next World, Death itself is not a Bar to it.

Malice, like Lust, when it is at the Height, doth not know Shame.

If it did not sometimes cut itself with its own Edge, it would destroy the World.

Malice can mistake by being keen as well as by being dull.

When Malice groweth critical, it loseth its Credit.

It must go under the Disguise of Plainness, or else it is exposed.

Anger may have some Excuse for being blind, but Malice none: for Malice hath time to look before it.

[Pg 140]When Malice is overgrown, it cometh to be the highest degree of Impertinence. For that reason, it must not be fed and pampered, which is apt to make it play the fool. But where it is wise and steady, there is no Precaution, that can be quite Proof against it.

Ill-will is seldom cured on a sudden, it must go off by degrees, by insensible Transpiration.

Malice may be sometimes out of Breath, Envy never. A Man may make Peace with Hatred, but never with Envy.

No Passion is better heard by our will, than that of Envy: No Passion is admitted to have Audience with less Exception.

Envy taketh the Shape of Flattery, and that maketh Men hug it so close, that they cannot part with it.

[Pg 141]The sure way to be commended is to get into a Condition of being pitied. For Envy will not give its leave to commend a Man, till he is miserable.

A Man is undone, when Envy will not vouchsafe to look upon him.

Yet after all, Envy doth Virtue as much good as hurt, by provoking it to appear. Nay, it forcibly draweth out, and inviteth Virtue, by giving it a Mind to be revenged of it.


Of Vanity.

The World is nothing but Vanity cut out into several Shapes.

Men often mistake themselves, but they never forget themselves.

[Pg 142]A Man must not so entirely fall out with Vanity, as not to take its Assistance in the doing great Things.

Vanity is like some Men who are very useful, if they are kept under; and else not to be endured.

A little Vanity may be allowed in a Man’s Train, but it must not sit down at Table with him.

Without some Share of it, Mens Talents would be buried like Ore in a Mine unwrought.

Men would be less eager to gain Knowledge, if they did not hope to set themselves out by it.

It sheweth the Narrowness of our Nature, that a Man that intendeth any one thing extreamly, hath not Thought enough lest for any thing else.

Our Pride maketh us over-value our Stock of Thought, so as to trade[Pg 143] much beyond what it is able to make good.

Many aspire to learn what they can never comprehend, as others pretend to teach what they themselves do not know.

The Vanity of teaching often tempteth a Man to forget he is a Blockhead.

Self-conceit driveth away the suspecting how scurvily others think of us.

Vanity cannot be a Friend to Truth, because it is restrained by it; and Vanity is so impatiently desirous of shewing itself, that it cannot bear the being crossed.

There is a Degree of Vanity that recommendeth; if it goeth further, it exposeth.

So much as to stir the Blood to do commendable Things, but not[Pg 144] so much as to possess the Brain, and turn it round.

There are as many that are blown up by the Wind of Vanity, as are carried away by the Stream of Interest.

Every body hath not Wit enough to Act out of Interest, but every body hath little enough to do it out of Vanity.

Some Mens Heads are as easily blown away as their Hats.

If the commending others well, did not recommend ourselves, there would be few Panegyricks.

Mens Vanity will often dispose them to be commended into very troublesome Employments.

The desiring to be remember’d when we are dead, is to so little purpose, that it is fit Men should, as they generally are, be disappointed in it. Nevertheless, the desire of leaving[Pg 145] a good Name behind us is so honourable to ourselves, and so useful to the World, that good Sense must not be heard against it.

Heraldry is one of those foolish Things that may yet be too much despised.

The Contempt of Scutcheons is as much a Disease in this Age, as the over-valuing them was in former Times.

There is a good Use to be made of the most contemptible Things, and an ill one of those that are the most valuable.


Of Money.

If Men considered how many Things there are that Riches cannot buy, they would not be so fond of them.

[Pg 146]The Things to be bought with Money, are such as least deserve the giving a Price for them.

Wit and Money are so apt to be abused, that Men generally make a shift to be the worse for them.

Money in a Fool’s Hand exposeth him worse than a pyed Coat.

Money hath too great a Preference given to it by States, as well as by particular Men.

Men are more the Sinews of War than Money.

The third part of an Army must be destroyed, before a good one can be made out of it.

They who are of opinion that Money will do every thing, may very well be suspected to do every thing for Money.

 [Pg 147]

False Learning.

A little Learning misleadeth, and a great deal often stupifieth the Understanding.

Great Reading without applying it, is like Corn heaped that is not stirred, it groweth musty.

A learned Coxcomb dyeth his Mistakes in so much a deeper Colour: A wrong kind of Learning serveth only to embroider his Errors.

A Man that hath read without judgment, is like a Gun charged with Goose-shot, let loose upon the Company.

He is only well furnished with Materials to expose himself, and to mortify those he liveth with.

The reading of the greatest Scholars, if put into a Limbeck,[Pg 148] might be distilled into a small quantity of Essence.

The Reading of most Men, is like a Wardrobe of old Cloaths that are seldom used.

Weak Men are the worse for the good Sense they read in Books, because it furnisheth them only with more Matter to mistake.


Of Company.

Men that cannot entertain themselves want somebody, though they care for nobody.

An impertinent Fellow is never in the right, but in his being weary of himself.

By that time Men are fit for Company, they see the Objections to it.

[Pg 149]The Company of a Fool is dangerous as well as tedious.

It is flattering some Men to endure them.

Present Punishment attendeth the Fault.

A following Wit will be welcome in most Companies; A leading one lieth too heavy for Envy to bear.

Out-doing is so near reproaching, that it will generally be thought very ill Company.

Any thing that shineth doth in some measure tarnish every thing that standeth next to it.

Keeping much Company generally endeth in playing the Fool or the Knave with them.

 [Pg 150]

Of Friendship.

Friendship cometh oftener by Chance than by Choice, which maketh it generally so uncertain.

It is a Mistake to say a Friend can be bought.

A Man may buy a good Turn, but he cannot buy the Heart that doth it.

Friendship cannot live with Ceremony, nor without Civility.

There must be a nice Diet observed to keep Friendship from falling sick; nay, there is more Skill necessary to keep a Friend, than there is to reclaim an Enemy.

Those Friends who are above Interest are seldom above jealousy.

It is a Misfortune for a Man not to have a Friend in the World, but[Pg 151] for that reason he shall have no Enemy.

In the Commerce of the World, Men struggle little less with their Friends, than they do with their Enemies.

Esteem ought to be the ground of Kindness, and yet there are no Friends that seldomer meet.

Kindness is apt to be as afraid of Esteem, as that is to be ashamed of Kindness.

Our Kindness is greatest to those that will do what we would have them, in which our Esteem cannot always go along.



[Pg 152]

Miscellaneous Thoughts

Of Advice and Correction.

The Rule of doing as we would be done by, is never less observed than it is in telling others their Faults. But Men intend more to shew others that they are free from the Fault, than to dissuade them from committing it.

They are so pleased with the prudent Shape of an Adviser, that it raiseth the value they have of themselves, whilst they are about it.

Certainly, to give Advice to a Friend, either asked or unasked, is so far from a Fault, that it is a Duty; but if a Man love to give Advice,[Pg 153] it is a sure sign that he himself wanteth it.

A Man whilst he is advising putteth his Understanding upon Tiptoes, and is unwilling to bring it down again.

A weak Man had rather be thought to know, than know, and that maketh him so impatient to be told of a Mistake.

He who will not be the better for other Mens Faults, hath no cure left for his own.

But he that can probe himself to cure his own Faults, will seldom need either the Surgery of his Friends or of his Enemies.

Of Alterations.

In a corrupted Age the putting the World in order would breed Confusion.

A rooted Disease must be stroaked away, rather than kicked away.[Pg 154]

As soon as Men have Understanding enough to find a Fault, they have enough to see the danger of mending it.

Desiring to have any thing mended, is venturing to have it spoiled: To know when to let Things alone, is a high pitch of good Sense. But a Fool hath an Eagerness, like a Monkey in a Glass Shop, to break every thing in the handling.

Curing and Mending are generally meer Words of Art not to be relied upon. They are set out in Bills, but the Mountebanks only get by them.


Great Bashfulness is oftener an Effect of Pride than of Modesty.

Modesty is oftner mistaken than any other Virtue.


Wise Venturing is the most commendable Part of human Prudence.[Pg 155]

It is the upper Story of Prudence, whereas perpetual Caution is a kind of under-ground Wisdom that doth not care to see the Light.

It is best for great Men to shoot over, and for lesser Men to shoot short.

Borrowers of Opinions.

Men who borrow their Opinions can never repay their Debts.

They are Beggars by Nature, and can therefore never get a Stock to grow rich upon.

A Man who hath not a distinguishing Head, is safest by not minding what any body sayeth.

He had better trust to his own Opinion, than spoil another Man’s for want of apprehending it.


It is some kind of Scandal not to bear with the Faults of an honest Man.

It is not loving Honesty enough to allow it distinguishing Privileges.[Pg 156]

There are some decent Faults which may pretend to be in the lower Rank of Virtues; and surely where Honour or Gratitude are the Motives, Censure must be a good deal silenced.

Of Caution and Suspicion.

Men must be saved in this World by their Want of Faith.

A Man that getteth Care into his Thoughts, cannot properly be said to trade without a Stock.

Care and right Thought will produce Crops all the Year without staying for the Seasons.

A Man is to go about his own Business as if he had not a Friend in the World to help him in it.

He that relieth upon himself will be oppressed by others with Offers of their Service.

All are apt to shrink from those that lean upon them.[Pg 157]

If Men would think how often their own Words are thrown at their Heads, they would less often let them go out of their Mouths.

Mens Words are Bullets that their Enemies take up and make use of against them.

A Man watches himself best when others watch him too.

It is as necessary for us to suppress our Reason when it offendeth, as our Mistakes when they expose us.

In an unreasonable Age, a Man’s Reason let loose would undo him.

A wise Man will do with his Reason as a Miser doth with his Money, hoard it, but be very sparing in the Expence of it.

A Man that should call every thing by its right Name, would hardly pass the Streets without being knock’d down as a common Enemy.[Pg 158]

A Man cannot be more in the Wrong than to own without Distinction the being in the Right.

When a Man is very kind or very angry, there is no sure Guard but Silence upon that Subject.

A Man’s Understanding is easily shoved out of its Place by warm Thoughts of any kind.

We are not so much Masters of our Heat as to have enough to warm our Thoughts, and not so much as to set them on fire.

A great Enemy is a great Object that inviteth Precaution, which maketh him less dangerous than a mean one.

An old Man concludeth from his knowing Mankind, that they know him too, and that maketh him very wary.

On the other hand, it must be allowed, that a Man’s being deceived[Pg 159] by Knaves hath often this ill Effect, that it maketh him too jealous of honest Men.

The Mind, like the Body, is subject to be hurt by every thing it taketh for a Remedy.

There are some such very great Foreseers, that they grow into the Vanity of pretending to see where nothing is to be seen.

He that will see at too great a distance, will sometimes mistake a Bush for a Horse: The Prospect of a wise Man will be bounded.

A Man may so overdo it in looking too far before him, that he may stumble the more for it.

And, to conclude, He that leaveth nothing to Chance will do few things ill, but he will do very few things.

Suspicion is rather a Virtue than a Fault, as long as it doth like a Dog that watcheth, and doth not bite.[Pg 160]

A wise Man, in trusting another, must not rely upon his Promise against his Nature.

Early Suspicion is often an Injury, and late Suspicion is always a Folly.

A wise Man will keep his Suspicions muzzled, but he will keep them awake.

There can no Rules be given to Suspicion, no more than to Love.

Suspicion taketh Root, and beareth Fruit, from the moment it is planted.

Suspicion seldom wanteth Food to keep it up in Health and Vigour. It feedeth upon every thing it seeth, and is not curious in its Diet.

Suspicion doth not grow up to an Injury till it breaketh out.

When our Suspicion of another Man is once discovered by him, there ought to be an end of all further Commerce.[Pg 161]

He that is never suspected, is either very much esteemed, or very much despised.

A Man’s Interest is not a sufficient Ground to suspect him, if his Nature doth not concur in it.

A weak Man hath less Suspicion than a wise one, but when he hath it, he is less easily cured.

The Remedies as often increase the Disease, as they do allay it; and a Fool valueth himself upon suspecting at a venture.


Many Men swallow the being cheated, but no Man could ever endure to chew it.

Few Men would be deceived, if their Conceit of themselves did not help the Skill of those that go about it.


Complaining is a Contempt upon ones self:

It is an ill Sign both of a Man’s Head and of his Heart.[Pg 162]

A Man throweth himself down whilst he complaineth; and when a Man throweth himself down, no body careth to take him up again.


Content layeth Pleasure, nay Virtue, in a Slumber, with few and faint Intermissions.

It is to the Mind, like Moss to a Tree, it bindeth it up so as to stop its Growth.


The Impudence of a Bawd is Modestly, compared with that of a Convert.

A Convert hath so much to do to gain Credit, that a Man is to think well before he changeth.


Men generally state their Wants by their Fancy, and not by their Reason.

The poor young Children are whipt and beaten by the old ones, who are much more inexcusably impertinent.[Pg 163]

Not having things, is a more proper Expression for a Man of Sense than his wanting them.

Where Sense is wanting, every thing is wanting.

A Man of Sense can hardly want, but for his Friends and Children that have none.

Most Men let their Wishes run away with them.

They have no mind to stop them in their Career, the Motion is so pleasing.

To desire what belongeth to another Man is Misprision of Robbery.

Men are commanded not to covet, because when they do they are very apt to take.


A Difficulty raiseth the Spirits of a great Man, he hath a mind to wrestle with it, and give it a Fall.[Pg 164]

A Man’s Mind must be very low, if the Difficulty doth not make a part of his Pleasure.

The Pride of Compassing may more than compare with the Pleasure of Enjoying.


Nothing so ridiculous as a false Philosopher, and nothing so rare as a true one.

Men take more pains to hide than to mend themselves.


Mens Pride, as well as their Weakness, disposeth them to rely upon Dreams, from their thinking themselves of such Importance as to have Warning of what is to befal them.

The Enquiry into a Dream is another Dream.


It is a piece of Arrogance to dare to be drunk, because a Man sheweth himself without a Vail.[Pg 165]


The best way to suppose what may come, is to remember what is past.

The best Qualification of a Prophet is to have a good Memory.

Experience maketh more Prophets than Revelation.

The Knowledge that is got without Pains, is kept without Pleasure.

The Struggling for Knowledge hath a Pleasure in it like that of Wrestling with a fine Woman.


Extremity is always ill, that which is good cannot live a Moment with it.

Any body that is Fool enough will be safe in the World, and any body that can be Knave enough will be rich in it.

The generality of the World falleth into an insufficient Mean that exposeth them more than an Extreme on either Side.[Pg 166]

Faculties of the Mind.

Though Memory and Invention are not upon good Terms, yet when the first is loaded, the other is stifled.

The Memory hath Claws by which it holdeth fast; but it hath no Wings, like the Invention, to enable it to fly.

Some Mens Memory is like a Box, where a Man should mingle his Jewels with his old Shoes.

There ought to be a great Difference between the Memory and the Stomach; the last is to admit every thing, the former should have the Faculty of Rejecting.

It is a nice Mean between letting the Thought languish for want of Exercise, and tiring it by giving it too much.

A Man may dwell so long upon a Thought, that it may take him Prisoner.[Pg 167]

The hardest thing in the World is to give the Thoughts due Liberty, and yet retain them in due Discipline.

They are Libertines that are apt to abuse Freedom, and do not well know how to bear Restraint.

A Man that excels in any one thing has a kind of arbitrary Power over all that hear him upon that Subject, and no Man’s Life is too short to know any one thing perfectly.

The modern Wit is rather to set Men out, than to make them of any Use.

Some Men have acted Courage who had it not; but no Man can act Wit, if Nature doth not teach him his Part. True Wit is always revenged upon any false Pretender that meddleth with it.[Pg 168]

Wit is the only thing that Men are willing to think they can ever have enough of.

There is a happy Pitch of Ignorance that a Man of Sense might pray for.

A Man that hath true Wit will have Honour too, not only to adorn, but to support it.


The building up a Family is a Manufacture very little above the building a House of Cards.

Time and Accidents are sure to furnish a Blast to blow it down.

No House wanteth new Tiling so often as a Family wants Repairing.

The Desire of having Children is as much the Effect of Vanity as of Good-nature.

We think our Children a Part of ourselves, though as they grow up they might very well undeceive us.[Pg 169]

Men love their Children, not because they are promising Plants, but because they are theirs.

They cannot discredit the Plant, without disparaging the Soil out of which it came.

Pride in this, as in many other things, is often mistaken for Love.

As Children make a Man poor in one Sense, so in another they inforce Care, and that begetteth Riches.

Love is presently out of Breath when it is to go up Hill, from the Children to the Parents.


’Tis good to have Men in Awe, but dangerous to have them afraid of us.

The Mean is so nice, that the hitting upon it is oftner the Effect of Chance than of Skill.

A Degree of Fear sharpeneth, the Excess of it stupifieth.[Pg 170]

It is as scandalous not to fear at some times, as it can be to be afraid at others.


Folly begets Want, and Want Flattery; so that Flattery, with all its Wit, is the Grandchild of Folly.

Were it not for Bunglers in the manner of doing it, hardly any Man would ever find out he was laughed at.

And yet, generally speaking, a Trowel is a more effectual Instrument than a Pencil for Flattery.

Men generally do so love the Taste of Flattery, their Stomach can never be overcharged with it.

There is a Right Reverend Flattery that hath the Precedence of all other Kinds of it.

This Mitred Flattery is of all others the most exalted. It ever groweth in proportion, and keepeth pace with Power. There is a noble[Pg 171] Stroke of it in the Articles sent to Princess Mary from Henry VIII. “Such is his Majesty’s Gracious and Divine Nature—shewing Mercy to such as repentantly cry and call for the same.”


Forgetting is oftner an Aggravation than an Excuse.

The Memory will seldom be unmannerly but where it is unkind.


There needeth little Care to polish the Understanding; if true Means were used to strengthen it, it will polish itself.

Good-manners is such a Part of Good-sense, that they cannot be divided; but that which a Fool calleth Good-breeding is the most unmannerly thing in the World.

Right Good-manners require so much Sense, that there is hardly any such thing in the World.[Pg 172]


Good-nature is rather acted than practised in the World.

Good-nature to others is an inseparable Part of Justice.


Good-will, like Grace, floweth where it listeth.

Men mean so very well to themselves, that they forget to mean well to any body else.


Good-sense will allow of some intermitting Fevers, but then the Fit must be short.


He that can be quite indifferent when he seeth another Man injured, hath a lukewarm Honesty that a wise Man will not depend upon.

He that is not concerned when he seeth an ill thing done to another, will not be very eager to do a good one himself.[Pg 173]


There is so much Wit necessary to make a skilful Hypocrite, that the Faculty is fallen amongst Bunglers, who make it ridiculous.


An Injury may more properly be said to be postponed, than to be forgiven.

The Memory of it is never so subdued, but that it hath always Life in it.

The Memory of an Enemy admitteth no decay but Age.

Could we know what Men are most apt to remember, we might know what they are most apt to do.

It is a general Fault that we dislike Men only for the Injuries they do to us, and not for those they do to Mankind. Yet it will be hard to give a good Reason why a Man who hath done a deliberate Injury to one, will not do it to another.[Pg 174]

The Memory and the Conscience never did, nor never will agree about forgiving Injuries.

Nature is Second to the Memory, and Religion to the Conscience.

When the Seconds fight, the latter is generally disarmed.


A Man in a corrupted Age must make a Secret of his Integrity, or else he will be looked upon as a common Enemy.

He must engage his Friends not to speak of it; for he setteth himself for a Mark to be ill used.


As far as keeping distance is a sign of Respect, Mankind hath a great deal for Justice.

They make up in Ceremony what they want in Good-will to it.

Where the Generality are Offenders, Justice cometh to be Cruelty.[Pg 175]

To Love, and be in Love different.

To Love, and to be in Love with any thing, are Things as differing, as good Sense and Impertinence.

When we once go beyond bare liking, we are in danger of parting with Good-Sense; and it is not easy for Good-Sense to get so far as liking.


When by habit a Man cometh to have a bargaining Soul, its Wings are cut, so that it can never soar.

It bindeth Reason an Apprentice to Gain, and instead of a Director, maketh it a Drudge.


The being kind to a Lyar, is abetting a Treason against Mankind.

A Man is to inform the first Magistrate, that he may be clap’d up.

Lies are embroidered with Promises and Excuses.

A known Lyar should be outlawed in a well ordered Government.[Pg 176]

A Man that renounceth Truth, runneth away from his trial in the World.

The use of Talking is almost lost in the World by the habit of Lying.

A Man that doth not tell all the Truth, ought to be hanged for a Clipper.

Half the Truth is often as arrant a Lye, as can be made.

It is the more dexterous, but not the less criminal kind of Lying.


Names to Men of Sense are no more than Fig-leaves; to the generality they are thick Coverings that hide the Nature of Things from them.

Fools turn Good-Sense upon its Head, they take Names for Things, and Things only for Names.


It is a general Mistake to think the Men we like are good for every[Pg 177] thing, and those we do not, good for nothing.


A Man who is Master of Patience, is Master of every thing else.

He that can tell how to bear in the right Place, is Master of every body he dealeth with.


Positive is the Perfection of Coxcomb, he is then come to his full Growth.


It sheweth Mens Nature, that when they are pampered in any kind, they are very apt to play jadish Tricks.

One of the Tricks of any Creature that is wanton, is to kick what is next them.


Every thing that doth us good is so apt to do us hurt too, that it is a strong Argument for Men to be quiet.[Pg 178]

If Men would think more, they would act less.

The greatest Part of the Business of the World, is the Effect of not thinking.

Reason and Passion.

Most Men put their Reason out to Service to their Will.

The Master and the Man are perpetually falling out.

A third Man will hazard a beating, if he goes about to part them.

Nothing hath an uglier Look to us than Reason, when it is not of our side.

We quarrel so often with it, that it maketh us afraid to come near it.

A Man that doth not use his Reason, is a tame Beast; a Man that abuses it, is a wild one.[Pg 179]


It is a self-flattering Contradiction, that wise Men despise the Opinion of Fools, and yet are proud of having their Esteem.


Self-love rightly defined, is far from being a Fault.

A Man that loveth himself right, will do every thing else right.


A Man who doth not think he is punished when he is blamed, is too much hardened to be ever reformed.

The Court of Shame hath of late lost much of its Jurisdiction. It ought by right both to judge in the first Instance, and to exclude all Appeals from it.

Shame is a Disease of the last Age, this seemeth to be cured of it.


Singularity may be good Sense at home, but it must not go much abroad.[Pg 180]

It is a Commendation to be that which a crowd of mistaken Fools call Singular.

There can hardly be a severer thing said to a Man in this Age, than that he is like the rest of the World.


Slander would not stick, if it had not always something to lay hold of.

A Man who can allow himself the Liberty to slander, hath the World too much at his Mercy.

But the Man that despiseth Slander deserveth it.

Speakers in Publick.

Speakers in Publick should take more Pains to hold in their Invention than to raise it.

Invention is apt to make such Sallies, that it cannot secure its Retreat.[Pg 181]

He that will not make a Blot, will be pretty sure in his time to give a Stroke.

A patient Hearer is a sure Speaker.

Men are angry when others do not hear them, yet they have more Reason to be afraid when they do.

Time the loss of it.

Mispending a Man’s time is a kind of self-homicide, it is making Life to be of no use.


Truth is not only stifled by Ignorance, but concealed out of Caution or Interest; so if it had not a Root of Immortality, it must have been long since extinguished.


The most useful Part of Wisdom is for a Man to give a good guess, what others think of him.

It is a dangerous thing to guess partially, and a melancholy thing to guess right.[Pg 182]

Nothing would more contribute to make a Man wise, than to have always an Enemy in his view.

A wise Man may have more Enemies than a weak one, but he will not so much feel the weight of them. Indeed the being wise doth either make Men our Friends, or discourage them from being our Enemies.

Wisdom is only a comparative Quality, it will not bear a single Definition.


A Man hath too little Heat, or Wit, or Courage, if he hath not sometimes more than he should.

Just enough of a good thing is always too little.

Long Life giveth more Marks to shoot at, and therefore old Men are less well thought of, than those who have not been so long upon the Stage.[Pg 183]

Other Mens Memories retain the ill, whilst the good Things done by an old Man, easily slip out of them.

Old Men have in some degree their Reprisals upon younger, by making nicer Observations upon them, by virtue of their Experience.






[1] Upon the Words of his Declaration.

[2] Two Papers in Defence of the Roman Catholick Religion, found in this King’s strong Box, in his own hand, and published by King James II. afterwards.

[3] The Dutchess of Portsmouth.