The politicke and militarie discourses of the Lord de La Nouue VVhereunto are adioyned certaine obseruations of the same author, of things happened during the three late ciuill warres of France. With a true declaration of manie particulars touching the same. All faithfully translated out of the French by E.A.
La Noue, François de, 1531-1591., Aggas, Edward.

The 24. Discourse.

Against those that thinke that Godlinesse depriueth man of all pleasures.

GReat is the number of those men that * at these daies are enfected with this false opinion, which they sylie publish in all places where they haunt: And they are, in my mynde, such a kinde of people as wée may well tearme Epicures and Li∣bertines, who establishing their soue∣raigne felicitie in pleasures, doe ende∣uour onely to contemne Christian life, burdening it that it breedeth nothing but continuall sorowe, so to make all such as list to hearken vnto them vnwilling to walke in the paths thereof. Their arguments are wonderfull plausible to Page  313 those in whome sensualitie beareth sway, which is the cause that many simple persons, yea and some of the wiser sorte doe suffer themselues so to bee led away therewith, as somewhat to fauour the sayd opinion: and thus doe they with their malicious speeches turne many from walking according as the duetie of the name that they beare doth require. There is an old prouerbe that saith, Euill wordes corrupt good maners: which is often verified. Howbeit, if any man doth doubt hereof, and wisheth some more euident proofe, let him repayre to the schoole of these doctors, from whence he shall be sure to returne farre worse then he went: for as droppes of ynke cast into fayre water by continuance doe not onely defile, but euen blacke the same, so yong soules harkening to such instructions doe gather a bad disposition, which afterwarde enhabiteth within them.

Now in this age wherein we liue, which is so plentifull in wic∣kednesse, * it is hard to bee conuerfant among men without hearing such speeches: In respect whereof wee ought to bee furnished with good preseruatiues, as in the time of the plague, to keepe away the euill ayre. The same may easely be had and without any great cost: For as well Christian as humaine Philosophie do offer them for nothing to those that list to take so much paines as to cull them foorth, as they would in a fayre medowe cull such flowers as they best like. Howbeit, sith all men will not finde so much leisure, this my small labour shall supply the default of those slothfull persons: wherein they shall finde the flowers readie gathered, which are so sweete as no filthie stench shall be able to offend them.

I suppose we shall neede no perticuler marke to knowe these of * whome wee speake, for their owne speech will bewray them as the fruite doth the tree: neither to note the places where to finde them: onely this shal suffice, that although they be scattered euery where, yet are there three principall fieldes wherin they do most prosper: the Court, the Armies, and the Townes: and so long as vertue was in estimation their number was but small, but through con∣tempt thereof, they haue abounded. Neither is it any meruaile: for as thornes spring vp among Roses, and darnell with wheate: so doth vice intrude it selfe where vertue doth, or ought most to shine, to the ende to blemish the same. Among the three sortes of enhabitants in the places aforesayd, wee may peraduenture finde some difference in their discon••es and maner of proceedings, al∣beit they all shoote at one thing, as an Archer, a Crosbowe man, Page  314 a Crosbow man, & a Harquebuzier shooting all at one but, though with sundrie Instruments, yet in intent doe agree.

The Courtiers are very delicate in their speeches and pleasant * quippes, powring foorth their reasons so sweetly and with such a facilitie that a man shall be catcht ere he be aware. Neither do their countenances or courtesies, which are great helpes to perswasion, any whit varie therefro. Thus with these goodly speeches they co∣uer whatsoeuer is vnperfect in their opinions, not that they thinke them vnperfect: for they doe followe them, wishing others also to embrace the same. The ordinarie life that is led in those Courts that are alienated from vertue, is in parte the cause of encrease of corruption in these men: for séeing pleasure so highly estéemed, they are the more enflamed to enioy the same: also through lōg custome in wishing and plunging themselues therein, they doe esteeme no∣thing els, and to the same ende doe referre all their actions. Thus by little and little of schollers they growe to be maisters in an arte that draweth those that put it in practise into destruction. Among these doe I not meane to place the vertuous Courtiers, whome I take to bee as vnlike vnto them as gould is to leade. But I wish only they were admonished not to permit their puritie to be conta∣minated with others corruptions. Albeit we are not to thinke plea∣sure to bee such an outward imperfection, as fasteneth hould vpon vs so soone as we come neere to ye same. For the seeds therof are in our selues, where they redily doe sproot and fructifie according as they be hett by such obiects as presents themselues to our sences, vnlesse by the power of reason they be restrayned. Whosoeuer sen∣deth or councelleth a yong man to goe to the places afore mentio∣ned to learne any thing, ought first to admonish him that there he shall finde fewe good men, but many bad: also that the first sorte will coldly induce him to al honestie, but the latter will continually sollicite him to whatsoeuer is vnhonest, so may he preuent the dan∣ger and prouide to resist the same. For these subtile doctors haue no better sporte then to meete with such game, whome they assure themselues of, if they but once giue them the hearing. Howbeit, although they hate true vertue, yet doe they sometimes in wordes commende it, to the ende to daunt none, but by their deedes they shewe that they doe not much regarde it, as hauing no care but to take their pleasures.

Their ordinarie speeches to those whom they seeke to drawe to * their opinion are these. Mans life is shorte and replenished with di∣uers Page  315 troublesome euents: we are not aware that it is at an ende before we knowe how to guide our selues to finde any comentation. For some led by common custume and others by ignorance, doe entangle them selues in diuers miseries which they might wel auoyde, and so doe leaue behinde them many pleasures which they scarce perceiue: and with∣out the which mans life is a waightie burden to him: yea and repug∣nant to nature who by her secrete motions procureth all liuing things to delight in their being, and to seeke after that which may delight them. That as among all other creatures, man is the most excellent, so hath he most priuiledges: whereof one of the principall consisteth in re∣creating himselfe in the beautie and varietie of whatsoeuer is scattered ouer the face of the earth. That his minde is capable to learne and comprehend: but it many times happeneth that all haue not like good happe to meete with good schooles: which are to be found in the courts of Princes and good townes, the principall seates of conuersation, where the best polished mindes do choose to enhabite: howbeit that the Court only beareth the name, as the place where not good instructiōs only are to be had, but also all sortes of obiects that may delight doe make their residence. That the country man who keepeth home, spendeth his daies in hunting some beast, or in eating the wortes of his garden, where as those that flow in aboundance doe continually be hould goodly things, heare al melodies, & smell all good sauors: yea if there be any sweet de∣lights in the world the same are with them to be found. Likewise that whatsoeuer may tende to the exercise or contentation of the minde, is there more plentifull, as delightfull companie, amitie, courtesie, honor, fauor, wealth, rewardes, offices, dignities, commendations, tryumphes and all magnificence. To be briefe, which way soeuer a man turne him selfe, all doe laugh and reioyce: These are the things which wee ought to seeke in this life, to the ende to burie such heauinesse as happen ther∣to by so many vnlooked for accidents: And whosoeuer taketh any o∣ther course resembleth the couetous person, which hauing (as a man may say) all felicitie in his coffers, cannot enioy it: but daylie encrea∣seth his cares and miseries: so farre are his sences out of frame. That it is great folly to prescribe to mans life (as many doe) such straight boundes to coope it in, as a man would doe a prisoner: for so doe they make it like vnto death, which is repugnant vnto nature: and deuo∣tion doe bring it into that state. For we see some of these Protestants that make a conscience to laugh: on the other side, the Charterhouse Munke dare not speake, and the Nunnes doe nothing but weepe. But if no man may without those passions haue place in the chambers and Page  316 stately halles of Paradize, they are well content to leaue the preemi∣nence vnto them, and for their partes to take some roume in the small corners of the outer courts. That those men are too speculatiue with in regard of things to come, do set themselues in the stockes in this world, and reiect so many present benefites which are not created but to bee vsed. These are the short sermons which these good Courtiers doo preach in good and polished speeches vnto the nouices whom they purpose to entrappe: neither is it to be doubted but they be drawne by this Epicurian doctrine, which is in these latter daies very plausible to many. All these wordes, with many more deliuered with a grace and dexteritie in the middest of these theatres of plea∣sure, vnto those simple soules that yet doe walke in the pathes of youthfull innocencie, are of wonderful force to restraine them from all good motions, and certainely the most part are shaken and infec∣ted with the same. Wherefore it is necessarie in this our age to re∣plenish the vessels of our soules with all good liquours, to the end those that bee poysoned and still flowe in many places may finde no entrie. Here would I answer the proposition of the false Cour∣tier, were it not that wee must also suffer his companions to vtter their speeches, which are not much different from him and tende both to one ende: and then aunswer them both together.

Now let vs bring vnto the stage the enhabitants of the townes. * One sorte termed the carelesse children, which are a kinde of peo∣ple that passe not their legge of mutton, their flagon of wine, and a game at scailes I will not speake of: but I purpose to make men∣tion of the other sorte which want neither learning, eloquence, nor ciuilitie: men worthie continual conuersation, were not their soules polluted with this vayne Philosophie, which tyeth true felicitie to sensible and corporall things. They doe some what differ from the Courtier that spake before, for he doth not vtterly reiect labour, but delighteth in diuersitie of actions, & doth somewhat aspire to high matters: wheras these men loue idlenesse, which they terme Tran∣quilitie, seeking to eschue all causes of griefe, which is one of the priucipal fruites of the Epicurian doctrine: who also doe diligent∣ly obserue the precept proceeded out of the same schoole: Hide thy life. Now some of them being learned doe easely, by the subtletie of their arguments, drawe to them many schollers. But their stron∣gest meanes is the practise of the delicious life that they leade. For so soone as any haue once tasted of the liquorous morcels that it yeeldeth, it is a great aduenture, but he euen glutteth himselfe: And Page  317 the better to induce him thereto, they drawe him in with these spée∣ches following. That men for the most parte haue bene wrapped in ignorance, which is one of the chiefest diseases of the soule: whereof it*hath followed that many times they haue taken the false for the true: yea euen in the choyse of the life that is best for them they haue bene greatly deceiued: but that those whose mindes haue bene illuminated with the documents of Philosophie, haue better perceiued what were good for them to choose. That in them they haue learned that among all temporall things subiect to the sundrie blastes of fortune, the mea∣nest are the safest. For proofe whereof, that wee see the highest towers and trees most beaten with thunder, likewise the lowest medowes for the most parte drowned with great floodes: but that the meanest buil∣dings are freest from all such inconueniences. Euen so is it in mans life. For such as trot after the greatnesse therof are tossed with a thou∣sand passions, and oftentimes with sudden destruction: On the other side, the meanest sorte are subiect to many oppressions and iniuries: But those that keepe the meane, doe without the enuie of the one sorte and contempt of the other, best preserue themselues, and withall enioy a sweete peace both in bodie and minde, which consisteth in the vse of all delectable things, and in the want of such as may bee noysome. That albeit they enhabite the great townes, where they may see a vehement flowing and ebbing of wordly folly yet doth not the same tosse this out corner of the world, where their nauigation doth lye, and where it is almost alwaies calme, whence they behould the mo∣tions of all, and smile at the vaine hope and disordered desires of the one sorte, and bewaile the simplicitie that circumuenteth the other, while in the meane time they let the world slide, which passing in her wonted course, moweth downe all that hath had being: wherefore the best counsaile that a man can take is to possesse himselfe, and not to become a bondslaue to diuers things, which to no purpose doe be∣reaue him of that small libertie that he hath, which also he should make so deere accompt of. That it is not in vaine that this braue speech, Too much of nothing hath bene had in so great reputation, as being a sentence that cutteth off all excesse in humaine actions, and not onely the bad, but also those which vnder colour of goodnesse, doe tende to transformations against nature, such as many ende∣uour to perswade to themselues, who but simplie considering of the weakenesse and frailtie of man, doe imagine that they can liue heere belowe as Angelles, and to the ende to attaine thereto, doe endeuour to binde themselues to vnpossible rules and obseruations, Page  318 albeit their bodies be composed of the elements and subiect to the alte∣rations that followe that substance: but they weening to aduance them selues doe recoyle backward, as the hammer wherewith a man stri∣keth too hard vpon aslithie. For, say they, what els are so many super∣stitious custumes, such austerities, deuotions, and propounded feares, but rauishments of ioye and recreation whereto mans affections doe tende? adding, that in seeking to make it perfect, they make it vnsen∣sible, after the maner of the Stoikes, which is, to destroy their owne fi∣gure: That the best way therefore is to followe the rules which agree with nature, who is to bee guided without violence and left free: also that who so vseth it otherwise, burieth himselfe before he bee dead, which is a punishment that those men haue well deserued that haue so badly vsed the goodly priuiledges of life. These bee the first speeches that they propound: and then when a man is growne into domesti∣call familiaritie with them, they doe more at large disclose the se∣cretes that before they durst not reueale: For (as saith Plutarke, speaking of such Epicures) they feare the people, and for a shewe doe embrace the religion allowed, to the ende to bee tollerated, al∣though in corners they scoffe thereat.

Let vs now heare also those that are brought vp in the warres, * for now is it their turne to speake. But first I will say thus much: that I meane not to condenme the lawfull professions wherto men apply themselues, but only such corruptions as fall out. The great labours of these warriours, together with the daungers whereinto they hasard themselues, do procure them earnestly to long for plea∣sure, as a most sweete medicine for their paynes: also to eschue all sorowfull obiects, as being but too much affrighted at the images of death which they see so often. And when they haue catched some good bootie, it is not to be demaunded whether they studie to make good cheere: for both daies & nights are too short for them. And this prouerbe which by the scripture is applyed to prophane persons, is vsually in their mouthes, Let vs eate drinke & be merrie, for perad∣uenture to morow we shal dye. This is a close approbation of the pe∣rishing of the soule together with the bodie, which they will reple∣nish with all earthly goods, for that they be ignorant of the heauen∣ly. When a yong gentleman cōmeth to learne the feates of warre, they fashion his soule after a terrible maner, if he cleaue too much to them. Their speech is not so much painted as the former, but as it * were enterlaced and full of iesting. The Souldiers (say they) must aime at both pray and pleasure, and eschue all melancholy, which they Page  319 returne to the couetous misers and Hermites, for couetousnesse and de∣uotion can haue no abiding with the souldiours, the one making them to hate, the other to feare: likewise that they must not feede delicatlie, for that quaileth their courages. To be briefe, that those which minde to bring into the Theatres where Mars playeth her bloudie tragedies, fastings, portuaises, & contemplation, doe but put forth themselues for mocking stockes, considering that there is nothing to be looked for but triumphs, rewards, and commendations, which are atchieued by con∣trarie waies. These be the pettie rudiments of their schooles wher∣by we may perceiue how all three sortes doe agree in the reiecting of pietie, which is the worthiest and most precious ornament of our soules.

I know such wicked speeches do deserue to be buried in silence, * also that neither the mouth of man should vtter them, neither the paper beare them: but now other farre worse are so common, that we need not to make any doubt of reuealing thē, so as we do it one∣ly to the end to warne others to beware, & to shew the meanes how. For as men set manifest markes in certaine places in the greate streames where the rocks do lie hidden vnder water, that the sailers may escape them, so hauing marked the places where these dange∣rous shelues are harbored, I thought good to set downe some smal description of their forme. Many there are who beeing ignorant of these dangers do thrust through the middest them: and these are to be moaned as much as the others are to be blamed, who perceiuing them, doe seeme to haue a pleasure to make shipwracke thereon, as taking their beginning to be verie sweet, though the end be sower. The best way to scape without scath, is to carry with them the qua∣dred, that is, wisedome, and the card, which are the goodly precepts to discerne the true from the false. For when the vaile that couered this false life is taken awaie, and that the filthinesse thereof appea∣reth, that man is verie beastly that immediatly flieth not from it for feare of polluting himselfe in so filthie a puddle. We haue alreadie scene the beautifull shew of this vayle which shineth in the painted and sweet speeches of these teachers: and especially in those which they make to runne downe so sweetely in the beginning: for men woulde thinke they should bring them to heauen: but when they gather to theyr conclusions, they make a sodayne stoppe, taking the waie not to anie pleasant places of the earth, but euen to the darkest dens therin. And in the meane time their intermingling of the fayre with the foule, and of the good with the badde, doe dazell Page  320 the eyes of the simple, and dim their iudgements, wherby they can∣not at the first perceiue their iutentes, which in deede they seeke to couer, because they cannot catch the birdes without counterfaicing such pleasant calls.

But least we might be deceiued, it is not amisse to shew the fal∣lacies of their intangling argumentes, reducing them into a more briefe and manifest forme.

The Courtiers is this. The instructions of the Court, with the ex∣amples of the quiokest wits doe teach man to follow such things as mi∣nister*pleasure & contentation, as a benefit greatly to be desired in this life: and contrariwise toteschue all such as are sorrowfull and noisome, which also make it miserable.

But deuotion and the straight rules of religion doe plunge it in 1000 anguishes, make it melancholy, and hinder it from attaining to this ende.

We must therefore reiect them, and ensue those that bring more de∣light.

The second argument gathered out of the Epicures speeche is this.

The best rules to mans lyfe are the naturall motions of the soule, som∣what holpen with the precepts of Philosophie.

But the superstitions which transport man to imagined perfections, strange to mans reason doe turne it out of this waie.

We are therefore rather to follow that which is according to nature, and conformeth it selfe thereto.

The souldiers is this. Those things that effeminate the mindes and daunt the courages of the souldiers, taking from them their won∣ted cheerefulnesse which they ought to haue, doe in no wise agree with their profession.

But the rules of religion which commend humilitie, forgetfulnesse of iniuries, & a feareful meditation of death, do work all these effects.

They are therefore vnconuenient thereto.

By this abrigement of speech we may (as I thinke) better com∣prehend * the speakers meaning, as seeing it naked and cleere from that which before kept it disguised: neyther doe I suppose that a∣nie man, pare deaie that these argument are grounded vpon im∣pietis and intemperancie: for as well those mennes purposes tend onelie to let goe the bridle to bodilie affections, to the ende to wal∣lowe and glut themselues in all pleasure, and to reiect the lawes and admonitions that labour to restraine them within the boundes Page  321 of vertue. But if we doe more neerely marke their arguments, we shall see that all their conclusions are false, as also are the most part of their propositions, which must not seeme straunge, because that in the approbation of wickednesse wee cannot proceede but by falsehoode and lying.

The principall thing that ye propound to dazell mens eies withal, is that all creatures doe long after whatsoeuer may reioyce them, and eschue whatsoeuer may make them sorrowfull. This doe I with them graunt to be true, and that nature teacheth euerie reaso∣nable soule the same lesson: howbeit with this condition, that eue∣uerie one vse it as to him shall be most conuenient. In beasts this appetite is ruled by certaine instinctions which nature hath giuen them, whereby they order themselues: and vsually wee see them sel∣dome change this order: But man is indued with reason to guide his actions, whereto he yeeldeth verie small obedience: which also albeit it were much greater than it is, yet could it not escape sum∣bling and falling into things vicious: considering how reason her selfe hauing bene in a manner blinded by originall sinne standeth in neede of a guide, so farre is shee from beeing altogether capable of the conduct of affections: but is it possible to finde anie man whose affections are so wel ordered as to reioice at nothing but that which is good? Such a one must wee seeke in the other worlde: for in this, wickednesse, vanitie, and delightes, doe please farre better, e∣uen without comparison, than that which is good: so as this vni∣uersall desire (which in beasts is ruled after their being) is verie vn∣perfect in those that haue the vse of reason, vntill it bee after a sorte restored through heauenly humiliation.

This is their goodly foundation which taketh more of the bad than of the good, howbeit they neuerthelesse proceed to lay a great * building therevpon. For (saie they) the delightfull ought to be a most soueraigne felicitie to man, sith his owne forcible desires are so liuely bent to such an end.

Heetevpon if a man should deuiand of them, what is the delight of the intemperate person, they dare scarce be acknowen, for shame forbiddeth them to saie impudicitie or gluttonie: wherein wee may brholde the beautie of their braue Philosophie, which ma∣keth mannes soueraigne felicitie lyke vnto that of a hog or goate. Neither is it to any purpose for them to replie, that they can well inough shun such villanous excesse: for experiēce doth but to plainly teach, that when man fixeth his felicity in bodily pleasures, he doth Page  322 extreamly exceede in the vse of the same: and heerein doth all the vice consist, when wee exceede the meane, whether in wishing or enioying: besides that, whatsoeuer is of it self wicked, we ought nei∣ther to wish nor labour for. The doctrine of Philosophers teach∣eth that there bee three sortes of good, The pleasant, the profita∣table, and the honest. Also that as the profitable are to bee pre∣ferred before the pleasant, so the honest are to bee esteemed aboue them both, as farre exceeding them in all excellencie: and these doe properly pertaine to man, who onelie among all creatures is capa∣ble of vertue. Who so therefore preferreth pleasure before and set∣teth vertue which is the true honest good: last committeth a great errour, and placeth himselfe among bruite beasts, who do respect no more but to satisfie theyr lusts. Neither will I forgette to saie that the good of pleasure commeth behinde the good of profite, but that which accompanieth the honest is without comparison the most perfect, neyther is there anie falsehoode hidden therein as in the o∣thers, which for the most parte doe breede sorrowe and sacietie: whereas those which consist in the enioying of vertue are pure and cleane, not subiect to alteration, but continually yeelding content. This sheweth the blindnesse of our Libertines speeches, when they saie that pleasure is aboue 〈◊〉 things to be desired, meaning of infe∣riours, for they ough〈…〉 adde the honest to make their proposition the more receiueable. *

Now let vs speake of the other part thereof, which so earnestlie persuadeth to eschue whatsoeuer may breed griefe or sorow: for ther∣in doe they account the greatest parte of their felicitie to consist. Heerevpon we may saie that the principle of such affection is bad, sith it tendeth onely to eschue the thing that altereth the tempe∣rature of the bodie, & breedeth discommoditie to the minde, because the same seemeth to be a peruerting of the order of nature: but they haue other considerations. For as they referre almost all to the bo∣dy, so they thinke it a great inconuenience to suffer, whereof also in∣sueth another, which they thinke to be no lesse, that is, a hinderance from inioying of pleasures: which their false opinions doe minister vnto them double torments. I will not denie but he that professeth wisedome, ought so far forth as he may, to eschue all griefes. How∣beit when they happē vnto him, he must not make the accident grea∣ter than it is, but by the valyancie of his courage diminish the same. Whereas these men to the contrarie doe imagine euerie worde of sorow to be ten, such a delycate felicitie haue they forged thēselues. Page  327 They also shew themselues to bee of small iudgement in that they seeke to shunne sorrowes and griefes, & yet doe wallow in all plea∣sures which draw them after them by douzens. It is as if a man to keepe himselfe from wet, should runne vp to the chin into the riuer, whome we might well saie to be besides himselfe. Wherevpon E∣rasmus verie ••tlie sayth, that pleasures at theyr comming doe flat∣ter, but at theyr departure doe leaue vs full of sorrowe and heaui∣nesse.

The Towne Libertines doe incomparably feare these incon∣ueniences * more than the other, because that hauing chosen the more effeminate life, themselues haue through custome grewe as tender as the waxe that melteth against the Sunne, which in them is a great token of pusilanimitie so sore to feare that which so many vile and base persons doe beare with so greate facilitie. Yea, we shall sometimes see women and young children make so small account of the griefes that pricke them, that you shall not heare one lamentable voyce proceede out of theyr mouths, which are the good∣ly fruites of constancie. But who should better know this than they that thinke themselues in finenesse of wit & knowledge to passe all others? In respect whereof theyr opinions in the ordering of theyr liues ought in soundnes and truth to passe the common sort. They imagine that they haue layde a sure foundation, in saying that wee * must followe the motions of our nature, wherto neuerthelesse they also adde the helpe of precepts, wherby they shew that they account it vnperfect. But it were better for them freely to confesse the great imbecilitie & weaknesse thereof, than by extolling it so high, to put it in hazard of a greater fall, & themselues doe but too often try how much it is inclined to euill rather than to good. Howbeit although it were much purer and sounder than it is, yet woulde they through the bad sustenance wherewith they feede it vtterly corrupt it. And what maner of Philosophy is this of theirs, which seketh to straigh∣ten crooked things by those that be more crooked: This is the occasion, in my opinion, that they so loue to hide their life, least men should perceiue their disordered manners. I will rehearse vnto you the admonition of Plutarke to such people, for the same wil suffice. *It is (sayth he) a poynt of dishonestie so to liue as none shall know howe thou hast liued: for if thou beest endued with vertue thou oughtest to let it appeare. If with vice, to seeke to haue it cured. Whom then may this Prouerbe Hide thy life profite? The ignorant, the wicked, or the fooles? No. It were as if thou shouldest saie to them. Hide thy Page  328 ague, or thy phrensie, let not the Phisition know of it. Goe creepe into some darke corner where no man may see thee or thy passions: Goe hide thy selfe with the incurable and mortall diseae of thy vi∣ces: couer thy enuie, thy adulterie, and excesse, as a hastie and lofie poulse, least thou be shewed and deliuered to such as are able to ad∣monish, correct, and cure them: Let vs also looke what commoditie the hiding of a mannes selfe, and not to let anie in an knowe him, doth breede to the honest. It is as much as sayth Plutarke, as if a man should say to Epaminondas: Take no charge of the armie: to Lycurgus, Trouble not thy selfe about the making of lawes: to Thra∣sibulus, Kill not the tyrants: to Pyhagoras, Teach not: or to So∣crates, Make no discourse.

Heereby wee may verie easilie comprehende that those which seeke to perswade others to liue in these small corners, haue no lust to make men to amend their imperfections, or to serue the the common wealth, but rather that they seeke to glut themselues with all pleasure. But as for him whome wee see so disposed, and past amendement, wee may well applie vnto him the saying of the same Philosopher to the brother of Epicurus. Goe and hide thy selfe with thy harlot Hedia and other thy yonckors, sith that con∣temning all honestie thou placest thy felicie in the pleasures of the flesh. Truely such endes are to bee buried in the darknesse of the night, least their wicked example should stirre vp others to filthie i∣mitation.

The Courtly Libertine differeth from these men in this, that he * seeketh to liue in more light and to bee knowen: how be it hee is so slie, that hee forgetteth no deuise wherewith to couer that which he doth well knowe many will reproue. But he speedeth as well as ye woman, who to couer her nakednesse putteth on a white, thin and fine lawne vaile, whereby shee may bee seene as playne as before: for euen so may wee easilie beholde the mudde that is in the bot∣tome of theyr water: and it is greate pittie hee employeth not his so many qualyties and exercises as well in the vse of vertue, as of his pleasures. But after a man hath suffered himselfe to bee by this sorceresse bewitched, it is verie harde for him to abandon her, so many hookes hath shee to with-holde those that doe followe her.

Wee haue alreadie seene how hee alleadgeth the example of Courts and finest wittes, fayning that as well the one as the other doe all tende to that ende. But I denie it. For although Page  329 men doe there seeke pleasant matters, yet are not those theyr prin∣cipall endes, but vnderlings thereto, and as it were, some sweete refreshing to life, after it hath bene too much wearyed & toiled with cares. For I thinke there be fewe (but theyr lyke) that will pre∣ferre the pleasure of melodious musicke, before the goodly harmo∣nie of sundrie commendable amities there contracted: eyther glut themselues with a pleasant banquet, rather then saue theyr deere friende out of present perill, least so shoulde they seeme to haue but small regarde to the contenting of theyr soules: for their bodie bee∣ing filled they are satisfied. Yea, they make it a bond-slaue, sayth Plutarke, in forming the contemplatiue parte thereof, not to thinke vpon any other thing but the bodie, which is as much as for to hale it down with sensuall concupisences, and because in his smal workes he hath eloquently discoursed agaynst many other Epicu∣rian opinions, I will referre the Reader for his better satisfac∣tion vnto him.

Nowe must I saie some what also of our warlyke Epicure, * who, as the nature of warie is to disorder all things, so woulde hee bring such a confusion vppon the most profitable senses that remayne in his soule, as they might not keeepe him downe, but suffer him for to followe his furious appetites, whereas hee is so euylly accustomed in these corrupted schooles, that nothing but the glutting of himselfe therwith can delight him, euen as the Fi∣shers nettes are haled into the bottome of the water with small morselles of Lead therevnto fastned. He maketh a goodlie brag, as if he would tread vnder foot whatsoeuer he thinketh may seeme to leade him vnto feare and delicacie, and yet hee marketh not that most of his pastimes are of lyke nature.

For when he hath suffered a lyttle, what is his delyght, but to wallowe in the puddles of Bacchus and closettes of Venus, vn∣tyll that griefe, weaknesse, or pouertie doe pull him foorth a∣gayne? O what a goodly meane hee hath to maintaine the ver∣tue of Fortitude in strength, by nourishing it in dishonest plea∣sures! Neuerthelesse to the ende to moderate the rudenesse of martyall lyfe, I will sette downe an argument cleane contra∣rie vnto his, and conclude that it is necessarie many times to vse such thinges as may mollifie and appease it: but with what drugges must it bee done? With pietie, humanitie, and tem∣peraunce, which neuer quaile the courage, whereas that meate wherewith he feedeth his soule doth make it both dull and sauage. Page  330 Our aforesayd Libertines in whom particularly there is small dis∣agreement, doe in generall verie well agree among themselues to * contemne and reiect the Christian life, as beeing perswaded that it banisheth all ioy out of the heart, and keepeth man all his life time in as demure a countenance as the same which a bride counterfai∣teth for one day onely. And because they dare not openlie speake e∣uill of it, they reuenge themselues by slandering it secretly among such as are of theyr owne fraternitie. This monstrousnesse of these later dayes might be thought berie strange, were it not that I con∣sider that the antiquitie of the Iewes engendred the Saduces who denyed the resurrection of the dead and immortalitie of the soules, which maketh mee not to wonder so much at the imperfections of our time: for if we be Gods people, so were the Iewes: albeit we sée yt as well yt one as ye other haue gone verie far astraie. In Plutarks time, there were many such people: but the same were heathen men blinded with ignorance and pricked forwarde with their desires, to whome vpon this point he speaketh so partiently, that I woulde take his speech to be sufficient to awaken and amend those that liue in our dayes.

These be his wordes. The Epicures do scorne the sacrifices and*ceremonies which we vse to the God, saying that those that assist ther∣at, doe it not of any pleasure that they conceiue therein, but for a cer∣taine feare that they haue of them, which is manifestly false: For in truth there is no prosperitie that more delyghteth good men than that which they conceiue in the temples, neither any time more ioyfull than those feasts, neither can they see or doe any thing that better pleaseth them than when they sing or assist at the sacrifices to the Gods. For is not there the soule heauy or melancholike as if it had to deale with some tyrant, but rather wheresoeuer it weeneth that God is, there doth it soonest put away all feare and care, and giue it selfe to mirth. After∣ward he addeth. Now sayth Diogenes, all belong the Gods, & among friends all things are còmon, but the good are friends to the Gods. It is not thē possible but that the deuout & such as are friends to the Gods: must withall bee happy, neither that the vertuous man, as hee that is temperate and iust, can be without deuotion or religion. Is not this very wel spoken of a heathē who neuer had but false instructiōs, to conclude that he, which hath a liuely impression of religion can not be without felicity and ioy▪ Let therefore our Libertines of these dayes, who make themselues so blinde in the middest of all this heauenly light at the leastwise receiue the instruction of this phi∣losopher Page  323 (euen they that so much estéeme of prophane writers) who did see more clearely in those passed darknesses, then these men wil do in the perfect light. I am of opinion that who so list to reade this his so excellent a a treatise thorow, out of the which I haue shredde these small morcels, it will suppresse in him a great part of these false opinions, by séeing them so sufficiently confuted, which shall excuse me from repetition, referring the readers to the originall. We shall not néede (as I thinke) any other doctors then the Phi∣losophers to confute these people which doe thus falsely pollute the purest principles of mans life: for it were too great an honor to thē to haue the heauenly rules alleged against thē. Howbeit in as much as they dare in their corners make their skoffes therof, it is very re∣quisite by the same to disclose the filthinesse of their disorders and returne their atunts vpon them selues.

They imagine that they haue gotten a great aduantage of other * men, in saying, that they be not terrified with the fantasticall ima∣ginations of the torments of tell fire, which say they, are but deui∣ses inuented to restraine such as exceede and liue against nature. But I would aske them, (albeit their false proposition were true) to whome those propounded terrors may better be applied then to them selues, who liue as much against the nature of men as con∣formably with that of beastes. Truely they cut their owne throates with their owne knife: & also whatsoeuer countenance they beare to fear nothing, yet we sée no people that stand in more fear of bodily punishment and death then they. And whereof may that procéede, but of a naturall feeling printed in their consciences, which vnder temporall corrections and calamities doe represent vnto them the eternall paines prepared for such as flée and reuolt from God? And that is it which Solomon saith, The wicked doe flee when none doe pursue them, and vnto them is death terrible. Haue not the philoso∣phers also sayde that the moste gréeuous and assured punishment of wickednes is a continual remorse in the offender, which leaueth him no rest? The aforesayde thinges, which euen they of whom we speake doe trye, are as it were demonstrations and sensible appro∣bations of Gods iudgements after this life. Some do indeuour so much as in them lieth to haue no féeling hereof in themselues (be∣cause it is the continuall diminisher of their ioy) but they can not possibly cōpasse it. And they are farre deceiued to think yt good men be so terrified with the remembrance of hell: for although they ab∣horre it, yet are they heereof assured, namely that there is no con∣demnation Page  324 to those that are in Iesus Christ and walk not according to the flesh that is which liue not as Epicures. Moreouer, they know that hell, with all the power there of was lead captiue in the * triumph of our redeemers resurrection, and therefore cannot swal∣low vp anie of those that are partakers in the benefite of this victo∣rie. Wherevpon they stande in no feare for themselues, albeit they take compassion of others whom they see to take the waie towarde this gulfe which is to them inuisible. Let vs a litle consider how the Epicures and Libertines whensoeuer they suffer anie aduersitie, whereof they be not exempt, doe beare the fame, as also what con∣solations they vse. We may saie that they take them as vnwilling∣ly as children doe the rod: for sith of the depriuation of sorrow they make a wished felicitie, it must needs follow that the presence ther∣of is vnto them a verie odious mishap. Neuerthelesse they can yet comfort one another, saying: If it be violent they shall be soone de∣liuered from it, and that being reduced to nothing, they shall no lon∣ger feele anie thing: but if it be bu small, they will seeke to laie al the fault sometimes vpon men, and sometimes vpon the elements, as if all creatures shoulde bee contributories to the preseruation of their bodily felicities: Al these consolations do far differ from those of the true Catholiks, who are instructed in the truth: for whē they * fall into anie tribulation, their soules are not troubled, as knowing assuredly that it is God that visteth them after a fatherly manner, for their good & amendment, as not willing they shoud perish: assu∣ring themselues that after their humiliation, and calling vppon his fauourable goodnesse they shall finde such remedie as may be most conuenient for them. Yea, although the greatnesse of the perill, or vehemencie of the mishap should euen carrie them away, yet would they not sorrow without measure for abandoning a fraile and tran∣sitorie life, for one fullie replenished with all eternall goodnes. Nei∣ther doe these men guide themselues otherwise in prosperitie than in aduersitie, measuring them according to the pleasure which they breede vnto the bodies, as also they measure the other by the ell of their bodily sorrowe. But the Stoike Philosophers whome they scorne, are sufficient to reproue them: for they saie that to speake properly, vice onely may be termed mishap, because it transfigureth man into a wicked deuill or beast, which griefe dooth not, for it of∣tentimes maketh them better: likewise that the true good which gi∣ueth perfect contentment, is that of the soule which consisteth in the goodly actions of vertue, and the high searches of the truth.

Page  325 But in as much as this is well inough knowen, I will persist no * farther therin, but returne where I left, pretending to shew the abu∣ses which the Libertines do commit in those things that they seek after and delight in. Let vs put the case some good succession or o∣ther benefit be fallen to one of them. The first thing that then hee should doe, if hee were as hee ought to bee, were to giue thankes to God, as to him that is the author of all goodnesse. Secondly, to re∣ioyce for being freed from pouertie, and beeing better able to exer∣cise thā before the actions of vertue, as charitie & liberalitie. Third∣ly, to vse this riches conueniently or honestly, as wel to the benefite of others, as to his owne cōmoditie & recreation: but what doth he, but refer all to himselfe, neglecting al acknowledgement to God, (of whom he taketh smal keepe) and his other duties, and then saith to himselfe and his coadiutors. Come let vs prepare our selues to all*kindes of pleasures, sith we now haue meanes to inioy them, and cast a∣waie care: for the pleasures receiued will neuer be lost, and the remem∣brance thereof is still pleasant. But the true Christian mans pleasure is farre other: for so soone as he receiueth any benefite, by and by his heart riseth to God-ward, and he confesseth and acknowledgeth that he hath heard him, yea, that of his bounteous liberalitie he hath preuented him, or that although for his ingratitude hee deserued to be chastised, yet hee hath so farre fauoured him as to graunt him all things necessary for his present life: & meditating vpon these things in his soule he reioyceth, and with Dauid singeth: The Lord is my onely support, and he that doth me feede. How can I then lacke anie thing whereof I stand in neede? He doth me folde in coates most safe, the tender grasse fast by: And after driues me to the swarmes which runne most pleasantly, &c.

In the court we may see many who when their maister hath gi∣uen them any reward, doe neuer cease praising of him, saying: O what a good maister we haue, that giueth vs such rewards? Are wee not bound to loue him heartely, and withall fidelitie to serue him? If men can then so delight in the acknowledgement of humane bene∣fites, what are they to doe for diuine? Undoubtedly those that bee well taught do delight much more in heauenly: for they know that a Prince loueth to day & hateth to morow: but ye God neuer hateth those whom he hath registred for his in ye booke of life, but loueth thē with a most perfect loue. Another plesure also yt ensueth this, is whē yt which a man hath gotten he vseth by rules of vertue. For if I be a magistrate & haue preserued diuers innocents frō vniust oppression: Page  326 that my prince fauoureth me, and I haue reported the trueth vnto him: eyther that hauing had wealth I haue releeued those whome pouerty was ready to thrust downe into their graues: will not all this be vnto me an occasion of greater ioy then if I had vsed these commodities to hurt my enimies, to eate more delicate morselles, or to be costly clothed all ouer to make men gaze vpon me, as vpon as vpon an Oxe crowned whom men vse to leade vp and down the streetes? I referre it to the iudgement of the wise. A Christian shal also finde further occasion to reioyce when by outward benefites as well his mind as body are freed from sorrow & sufferance which proceede of the want of these goods: but this is with a moderate ioy which continueth and resembleth a calme and stil running wa∣ter, wheras the ioy of the Libertines doth rather resemble the inun∣dations of a swift streame.

I dare affirme that euen the bodily pleasures (I speake of such * as are lawfull) which they so storme for, are not so pleasaunt vnto them as vnto those whome they take to be so entangled in sorowe. The first place will I attribute vnto those which they receiue in taste and feeling, which are the two senses that they seeke soonest to satisfy, notwithstanding nature hath placed them further from the vnderstanding then the rest, as those which are most repugnaunt thereto. In this carrier doe I already perceiue some not only run∣ning but euen dying after one Flora or Lays: but in their such pur∣suites, yea and enioyings, they shall hardly perswade me that their pleasures doe surmount their paynes: for if there be any purgatory in the worlde, a man may say that it is there. One cryeth out that he burneth, another that he freezeth: one will goe hang him-selfe, another will banish him-selfe: thus doe they pay beere for such wares. Such loues wil some man say, do not pierce so violently: but I say yes. For vnchaste flames doe burne, where the shame-faste do but heate onely. Againe, after they haue enioyed their purpose, what followeth? two very contrary effectes, according to the diuer∣sities of humors. For we shal sée some not to loue women, but euen to worship them as Goddesses, submitting them-selues to such vile bondage, that easily they growe moste vilely to vnworthy acti∣ons: Is not this then a worthy pleasure that maketh the soule so sencelesse & astonied? Others contrariwise, after they haue once ta∣sted of this foode doe disdayn it: not to the end to taste no more, but to long after chaunge. Wherein they very well declare the vanity and shortnesse of bodily delights. Yet is not the tragedy ended, the Page  331 mischéefe whereof we may say to consist in the Catastrophe. For most of those that haue best played their parts do finde themselues rewarded according to their works, namely with debility of mem∣bers, gowtes, pockes, paines in the stomache, and which is more, their life is shortned and their hearts and mindes weakened. These be the fruites that growe in this goodly garden of pleasure which these our masters doe so honor: where in the beginning they ga∣ther a fewe roses, but after they haue a while sported them-selues, they step before they be aware into a Laberinth of pricking thors, the comming foorth whereof is perillous, and the torment perpe∣tuall. Now let vs match vnto these such men as desire honest plea∣sures, so shall we the better see the difference betweene them. Whē in theyr youth the sparkes of purest loue haue somewhat warned their minds they seeke 〈…〉eet obiects, vsing for theyr load starre ho∣nestie, and for their quadrant the remainder of their reason. Being thus guided they escape shipwracke, and oftentimes haue a verie calme nauigation, I meane those which lawfullie doe labour after lawfull things, haue their pleasures not full of launchings foorth, but seasoned with sweetnesse, replenished with steadfastnesse, and such as leaueth behinde it neither remorse nor repentance, as do the others. These amities may also be tearmed the kirnelles, which bring forth the fayre & great families, whose end is ordinarily crow∣ned with contentation. Neyther doe those men that are taken with the furies of Bacchus gouerne themselues any better than these disciples of Venus. For some there are whom a man cannot saie to be borne to liue, but to liue to eate and drinke: others are not so deep∣ly plunged in this gluttonie, but in lycorousnesse and delicacie. The first are so disposed, that their belly seemeth to be a cauldron, and theyr stomack a turne, for they be continuallie nayled and chai∣ned to the table, where they fill both the one and the other, vntyll the loade be so waightie that it ouerturneth his man, or carie him a∣way vpon all foure. But who so should thinke them to be any whi ashamed therof, shal be greatly deceiued: for they account it a great glorie after their long strife in so sweet a combat, to be caried away triumphantly into a bed, where they recouer new forces. And then they knowe verie well these two great Captaines White & Cla∣ret to be inuincible, also that the brauest must of force stoope vnto them, as a Pigmean might do to Hercules. In opiniō they consent with that good fat Abbot of olde time, who when his friendes tolde him that such lyke exercise would shorten his daies, made them this Page  332 answere: My friends take no thought for me, for as it is an honor to a good knight to die in the battayle: so it is an honour to an Abbot to burst at his table. I will not speake of the pleasure that they take in these continual and reiteratedtepasts, because they bee but too wel knowen, especiallie to such as haue trauayled some partes of the North countries, where such excesses are more common than with vs: albeit it might beseeme those that are endued with pietie, and yet doe practise it, to leaue the abuse thereof to the Libertines of whom we speak. The second sort are not so disordinate as these, but do intertain themselues with much more ciuilitie and desicacy, and in liew of swallowing downe all that they eate & drinke, they will onely taste of it, to the end thereof to haue the longer delight before they be satisfied. These men be somewhat carefull to hide the filthi∣nesse of dronkennesse, but most diligent to seeke meanes of diuersi∣tie of all meats, that by such varietie their appetites may find more delight. If they can meete with a good cooke, he is better thought of among them than euer was Plato or Aristotle in the Academy of Athens. All their meditatious consist in inuention of licorous∣nesse, and calling to minde their passed good cheere, and thus still aiming at their first marke, they pollute themselues in the like pud∣dle. But they doe it with more cunning, as knowing better how to inioy bodily pleasures thā ye others, also to couer their filthines. As for their Bacchanalean rewards, as wel the one as ye other are par∣takers of them: and it is hard to haue continued that course long, but they shall feele the forerunners of sicknesse who followe after, and are as peruerse as the former alleadged. Likewise we may see what gaine is to be gotten in seruing a maister that is so liberallin all kindes of sorrowes to those that choose to cleaue rather to their bellies than to abstinencie. Farre other is the pleasure of those that doe moderatly vse the gifts of God which he sendeth for our suste∣nance. For taking the same in such sorte, their soules are neuer in∣dangered with abuse of them: so that remaining free in the conduct of their sensualitie, they sometime giue it the raines, and sometime restraine it neither more nor lesse, but as a man would doe when he walketh a young horse in the fields. And in so doing as wel ye soule as the body doe reioyce in the inioying of those benefites whereof it only hath the vse, when she seeth them fettered within the bounds yt she hath prescribed. But what more gracious & goodly a banquet can there be than the same wherein as wel the one as the other be satisfi∣ed▪ Whith is alwaies practised among such as be adorned with pi∣etie Page  333 & vertue. Yet do they not disdain exquisite food, neither pleasant wines, but do esteeme of thē as of other necessary things, which whē they want, & haue not euen those things yt are common to ye〈…〉er sort, they do neuertheles not storm or languish after thē, as knowing that a small thing wil suffice nature. But one of their chiesest consi∣derations is to make these meanes to serue for the inioying of the conuersatiō of their like, & more & more to knit vp amitie, & to heare such good & pleasant speeches as do both instruct & delight. For as Plutarke saith, the proper worke of Bacchus consisteth not in dron∣kennes, * neither in drinking of wine or tasting of delicious food, but in the reioycing affection & familiaritie yt it breedeth betweene one & other. For vnto diuers who before scarce knew each other, hauing as a man should say, mo〈…〉d & steeped the hardnesse of their harts in banquets, euen as pron is mollified in the fire, it hath giuen thē a beginning of commixion & incorporation of one among another. Those men yt thus behaue themselues I suppose to haue much more pleasure than the Libertines, yea, then they who can haue but litle, except when they are inuited to some stately feast, where they heare the sound of the Cornets in a great hall, with the murmure of the troope there present, & see euerie thing glister with rich furniture, with the diuersitie of dances & masques. Truely all this dazeleth, yea, & bringeth on sleepe the senses, rather than reioyce the soules, e∣uen of those yt are well disposed, yet are there many yt séed onely vp∣pon such food. Now in the vse of other temporal goods we may af∣firme * yt the man which professeth Christian life taketh like pleasure as in the former. For sith he confesseth yt receiuing of them at Gods hands who is the same God of them, so doth he grant him the ioyful inioying of them. And how shoulde hee not reioyce in the good, sith the euil can neuer terrefie him as it is written in the 112. Psalme. No tidings ill can make him quaile, who in the Lord sure hope dooth set: his hart is firme, his feare is past, &c. For when they happē vnto him, he receiueth thē as merciful chastisementes, & studieth to reap profit in thē. Wherto we shal hardly perswade these men yt we now haue to do with, vntil experience hath giuen them some tast. As also our whole speech tendeth onlie to giue thē an appetite to tast ther∣of: for if these smal delights, which perish almost as soone as they be borne, can so be w••ch their senses; what effects shall so many & sun∣drie delectations, as pietie & temperance do bring foorth, worke in theyr soules, except to purge & cleanse them frō all those blemishes and errours, which almost ••mme all the brightnesse of the same▪ Page  334 Let them therefore abandon this life that hath but ouer much affi∣nitie with brutishnesse, and embrace the same, which for want of knowledge they reiect: for they may already perceiue by my for∣mer speech that there is as greate difference betweene these two, as betweene a handful of mire and a handfull of pearles. Concer∣ning the point whereof they stand in most doubt, which is, whether of the two is the more pleasant, it is alreadie proned to be the Chri∣stian: If they saie that in the paths thereof they many times finde pricking thornes, with many small stones to stumble at, I must needs answere, that that is but a small matter, sith they haue also the remedies at hand. But in the wayes wherein they walke, as well secretly as openly, let them consider howe many serpents lye hidden that bite them, and how many deepe pits they finde, the fal∣ling whereinto is most dangerous, yea, and mortall. And the most horible matter of all they come to in the ende, viz. a most filthie and abhominable name, wherwith oftētimes: they heare themselues bla∣sed euen whilest they yet liue, and afterward a headlong downefall into the eternall gulfe where is no redemption. And contrariwise they which haue pittie and vertue, beeing a sweete sauour to their like, are assured after the end of their long iourney vpon earth to be worthily receiued into the celestiall habitations.