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BORN, 1564; DIED, 1616.
The quality of mercy is not strained
mercy; And that same prayer doth teach us all to render The deeds of mercy.
How fearful And dizzy 'tis to cast one's eyes so low! The crows, and choughs, that wing the midway air, Show scarce so gross as beetles : half-way down Hangs one that gathers samphire-dreadful trade! Methinks he seems no bigger than his head: The fishermen, that walk upon the beach, Appear like mice; and yon tall anchoring bark, Diminished to her boat; her boat, a buoy, Almost too small for sight: the murmuring surge, That on the unnumbered idle pebbles chafes, Cannot be heard so high I'll look no more, Lest my brain turn, and the deficient sight Topple down headlong.
As man's ingratitude ;
Although thy breath be rudo.
As benefits forgot;
As friend remembered not.
This Cardinal, Though from an humble stock, undoubtedly Was fashioned to much honour from his cradle. He was a scholar, and a ripe and good one; Exceeding wise, fair spoken, and persuading; Lofty and sour to them that loved him not, But, to those men that sought him, sweet as summeu, And, though he were unsatisfied in getting, (Which was a sin,) yet in bestowing, madam, He was most princely: ever witness for him Those twins of learning that he raised in you, Ipswich and Oxford ! one of which fell with him, Unwilling to out-live the good that did it; The other, though unfinished, yet so famous, So excellent in art, and still so rising, That Christendom shall ever speak his virtue. His overthrow heaped happiness upon him; For then, and not till then, he felt himself, And found the blessedness of being little ; And, to add greater honours to his age Than man could give him, he died fearing God.
ADVERSITY. SWEET are the uses of adversity, Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous, Wears yet a precious jewel in his head: And this our life, exempt from public haunt, Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, Sermons in stones, and good in every thing.
Of all the qualifications of the mind, that are not positive virtues, I know none more desirable than good humour. No quality can render the possessor more easy and happy in himself, or recommend him more forcibly to others. From it, virtue herself receives additional lustre, and takes her most ravishing graces.
It is not saying too much in favour of this quality to assert, that it is one of the first requisites in society; for though strict honour and integrity are of more real value in the grander purposes of life, yet good humour, like small money, is of more immediate use in the common commerce of the world. There is no situation in life, in which it would not contribute to mitigate disappointment, or to heighten enjoyment.
Good humour is the fair weather of the mind, which calms the turbulent gusts of passion, and diffuses a delightful serenity over the heart. We feel attached even to animals that betray a softness of disposition. Montaigne could discover agreeable music in the good-humoured puwing of his cat; and with all the attention that is paid to the shape, colour, and eyes of the horse, good temper is his strongest recommendation.
He, then, that finds himself inclined to break out into sudden bursts of fretfulness and ill-humour, should be more upon his guard to repress the storm
in his mind, than to fence against the most inclement season, especially remembering, that the torrent of anger being once unrestrained, soon becomes irresistible, and that the pleasing quality here recommended, is generally lost imperceptibly. The thought of interest too frequently proves a growing canker in the mind; and the troubles and embarrassments attendant upon worldly pursuits, insensibly sour the temper, and destroy the cheerfulness and good humour which usually prevail in the undesigning season of youth.
I cannot conceive a more disagreeable companion than a man who has permitted his misfortunes to embitter his disposition. Such a man overflows with gall. He disturbs the peace of the family to which he belongs, and poisons the happiness of every company to which he is admitted. How much more worthy of imitation is he who meets the stroke of adversity with an even temper, who suffers neither reproach nor distress to ruffle his good humour !
The character of Sir Thomas More was in nothing more amiable than in the true pleasantry and good humour displayed by him under every occurrence. When Lord Chancellor, it was usual, as he went from church, for some of his officers to attend on his lady, and acquaint her of his departure; but the Sunday after his resignation he went himself to her pew, and bowing gently, said, “Madam, my lord is gone." His cheerful behaviour on the scaffold, and in every particular relative to his death, is familiar to all. “It is,” said he, "a sharp but sure remedy for all disorders."