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 eight Discourse.

That the pouertie of the French Nobilitie proceedeth not so much of the warres which haue continued these fiue and thirtie yeres, as of their owne ouersight in the mispending of their goods.

WE shall not neede any large discourse to shewe * how farre the French Nobilitie are fallen from the auncient wealth wherwith their hou∣ses were adorned in ye daies of the good Kings Lewes the 12. and Frances the first, as being a thing whereof fewe be ignorant. For if wée list to consider of them either generally or in perticuler, wee shall see them vnfurnished and wanting of sundrie necessarie things, except it be some houses which haue lately risen, Page  102 & a few others that by good husbandrie, benefites or couetousnesse haue mainteyned and enriched themselues. And I dare affirme that if all that beare this title were deuided into tenne partes, and neerely visited, it would bee found that eight of them haue bene de∣cayed by the alienations of a great part of their goods, morgages of their landes, or other debts, and that onely the other two partes haue wherewithall sufficiently to maintaine their estate wherein is no correspondent proportion kept. I thinke I should not doe a∣misse though I declared that which might seeme better to be con∣cealed. For as well our forreine neighbours doe imagine thrise more then there is and say, that wee are so affected to our King, that we will according to our callings imitate his liberalities and expences. This therfore that I now speake tendeth only to make vs wiser and more readie to repayre our domesticall decayes, as well to eschue other mens scoffes as to expell sundrie cares out of our mindes, and relieue those wants that oppresse vs.

Now, although it bee so that all doe agree in the confession of * this pouertie, yet when wee come to shewe how it commeth, there is a contrarie difference therein: For one saith one thing, and ano∣ther another: yea euery one seeketh to accuse the vyolence of the long warres which as Monsters doe deuoure all, rather then them selues. Thus doe wee see how readie each one is to seeke starting holes whereby to cléere himselfe of his fault, in liewe that he ought with vpright iudgement to examine from whence such disorders doe proceede. To excuse a mans selfe is a very common matter, and such as euery one is willing to doe: because the excuse seemeth somewhat to blot out the spottes that may blemish his good re∣nowme: But because to accuse bringeth shame, it is neuer put in practise vntill it needes must, whereof it falieth out that that mat∣ter lyeth long hid in ignoraunce which ought sooner to haue bene knowne. The prouerbe falleth out many tymes true, which sayth: That the euill which we knowe well is as it were halfe healed. Let vs * therefore seeke the cause of our owne, and that will be to vs a rea∣die way and preparation to finde remedie. Those that doe attri∣bute it to the ruine and charges of warre, doe say that there be yet liuing many honorable persons that haue seene in what wealth and prosperitie the French Nobilitie liued vntil the tyme of Hen∣rie the second: For so long as we had peace there was nothing to be seene among the Lords & Gentrie but liberalitie, magnificence, visitations, with other such honest expences, ye witnesses of wealth. Page  103 And yet all this notwithstanding they sould no landes, as well for feare of reproach, as also because of the moderation vsed in such things. Likewise, whensoeuer there was any warre proclaymed, it will hardly bee beléeued what goodly furniture euery one caried with him, as appeared in the voyadge into Germanie. But as no∣thing in this world is long permanent, so in the warres that were renewed in the yeere 1552. betweene the Emperour Charles the fifth and King Phillip, which lasted seuen yeeres, it was driuen to great expences, as well for the selfe honor, as in respect of the loue it bare to so good a Prince as was King Henry. Then ensued the vniuersall ciuill warres all ouer the Realme, comparable to vio∣lent streames, which so encreased the ruine thereof, that now all that the Nobilitie is able to doe, is to maintaine it selfe, liuing mi∣serably in it owne house. And hereof is growne the pouertie there∣of. These be their reasons, which also I will not vtterly reie. For * I will still confesse that these stormes haue bred part of our pouer∣tie, but that it is wholly procéeded thereof, I doe not aduowe: and I will hereafter shewe that it had other helpes of greater impor∣tance to set it forward. So as their argument concludeth but in parte. Now let vs examine what may haue bene the ruine in the first warres. It was not great, for the Nobilitie that then serued were neither euill paide, neither destitute of honest rewards pro∣céeding of the Kings liberalitie. True it is that some perticulers being too forward did in parte vnfeather themselues, as also that the frontier Nobilitie encurred some losses. But the greatest num∣ber continued in good state. In the ciuill warres there fell out more losses, which neuerthelesse lighted not vpon vs. Besides that in our pettie peaces since concluded it had still meanes to repayre the breaches. Withall that France is so fruitfull and well peopled, that whatsoeuer the warre wasteth in one yéere is repayred againe in two. Sith therefore such discommodities haue still bene accom∣panied with some remedies, as also that they haue assayled but the least parte of the Nobilitie, wee are not to accompt this mischiefe either so vniuersall or great. But, in my opinion, the cause why all the blame is layd vpon the warres, is first because the same is by nature hurtfull: secondly, that the vyolence that moueth it is hor∣rible and terrefieth: and thirdly, because men are glad to haue a shroude to hide their euill husbandrie, or els artificially to pleade pouertie as the couetous doe. A man that hath had a long conti∣nuall agew, being cured thereof, will remember it a long tyme, Page  104 and feare the like disease, and yet the corruption of the humours whereof it proceeded did growe by little and little through his intemperance of life, whereof he tooke no heede. The like doe wee in thinges breeding our pouertie. For some there are that wee finde out by and by and they make vs to lament: but o∣thers which are neither so common nor agreeable with vs, wee let easely slippe, as if wee were insensible, and will not knowe them. And I dare affirme that if the ruines of warres and mar∣tiall charges that so wee complaine of, haue brought vs fower ounces of pouertie, our foolish and superfluous continuall ex∣pences which wee doe not greatly repent vs of, haue procured vs twelue.

In this proposition we are to consider that the French Gentle∣man doth excéede in any thing whereto he is affected, and will spare * for nothing. Then that most of them spend not in one thing only, but in fower or fiue, so diuers are their minds, and that is the cause that drieth vp the liueliest springs of ritches. Now, one of the prin∣cipall thinges wherein they ouerflowe is apparell, wherein they haue neither rule nor measure: yea custome hath wonne so much, that a man dare not almost appeare in any good companie vnlesse he be guilt like a Challice: for thereby many perswade themselues to bée the more honored.

The Courtiers were they that brought in these inuentions, who in the meane tyme doe sharpe pennance for their labours, in that there is no yéere but such large expences doe sende at the least one dosen of them into the Litter, who for the pleasure of seeing themselues a fewe daies couered with silke and siluer, must many moneths after beare the griefe of finding themselues houselesse, or so haled by Usurers, as they could not be worse in ye gallies. Two other things there be besides the ritches of apparell, which greatly encrease charges. The one, that men will haue diuersitie: the other, that from two yéeres to two yéeres the fashions doe chaunge and must be renued, & who so doth not frame himselfe hereto is laughed to scorne. To be briefe, either the hand must stil be in ye purse, or the land at gage. Next to the Courtiers come the Gentlemen, who are not altogether so excessiue as they, although they take paynes to imitate them. And as for those that neuer stirre out of the coun∣trie, vnlesse it be a few very good husbands, they likewise do so fol∣lowe the custome, that euery one farre excéedeth his porte. And yet is all this but halfe charges. For the women also will haue Page  105 their share in so many gay ornaments, which yet became them bet∣ter then the men, who haue larger meanes to beautifie themselues with vertue. Some are content with honest sufficiencie, others de∣light onely in aboundance: and some doe so farre passe the boundes of reason, that their poore husbands may scratch their heads when they see pouertie come posting to them vpon Indian stones, and Italian clothes of golde.

This custome began vnder Frances the first, and did mightely encrease vnder Henry the second: but since, their excesse hath bene such, as to apparell their Lackies and Pages in cloath of siluer. Our auncestors were without comparison farre more moderate, yea our Kings sought to make their Maiesties venerable rather by grauitie, iustice, wisedome, fortitude, liberalitie, and a trayne of worthie and learned personages, then by any sumptuousnesse of apparell, which also inuited their subiects to the like imitation. Subiects and Prouinces ensue the maners of Princes. And vn∣till the great ones doe begin to cut off these superfluities, they will still continue to the great detriment of the Nobilitie.

Some man may say: Is it not decent that euery one should goe according to his dignitie? Yes truely, and I thinke it were great inciuilitie and an vnwoorthie matter to doe otherwise. I reprooue only the excesse therein vsed, which puffe vp our mindes to vanitie, and in the ende breede destruction. Neither must we imagine that our fathers went apparelled like Artificers: For when they came to any Feasts or great assemblies, their garments were according to their calling: and yet free from superfluitie, and such as lasted long. Now, if in the Court we see any man weare a garment of a yeere olde, we say of him: We know him well enough, he will not bite vs, he is a two yeeres birde: so that with such scoffes he is forced to giue it ouer. And it may be sayd that among Courtiers the age of an ordinarie garment is three moneths: and of an extraordinarie, sixe: and among the rest of the Nobilitie, somewhat longer tyme. For the newe fangles that doe after ensue doe make them ridicu∣lous. To the ende likewise the better to knowe the diuersitie there∣of, resort you to the Frippery at Paris, where you shall finde a most plentifull storehouse. So that if a man were disposed vpon this medlie to frame Antiques, there were no pleasanter deuise to bee seene. This inconstancie in apparell argueth a woonderfull light∣nesse of minde, whereof ensueth the purgation of the purse, and laughing sport to straungers. For when we come into their coun∣trie Page  106 and they see our great Ruffes, womens Verdugalles, mens long heare, and the sword at the backe, they runne after them as the little children at Paris do after maister Gonin. It is a hard case to empouerish our selues with these péeuish follies, and then to bee laughed to scorne too.

It may bee replyed that scoffes, the ordinarie pastime of the world, are mutually lent and payed againe: also that our Nobilitie * trauailing to Venice, and there seeing the Nobilitie couered with cappes like the coffin of a pye and girt in broad girdles, euen laugh outright. I denye it not: but withall, this I will say, that when some of them doe afterward come to consider that the simplicitie of their garments swelleth vp their coffers with treasure, also that wisedome and grauitie shine in their Senate, and that their Sta∣tutes are inuiolably obserued: and contrariwise that wee with our short hose and long dublets haue made our lawes leape out at the windowes, because they speake too loude: also that our coffers are for the most part as voyde of golde as the head of a passionate lo∣uer is of reason, they conclude that our selues doe better deserue to be mocked.

Let vs now come to the second article of our vayne expences, * consisting of the immoderate affections that sundrie beare vnto stately buildings. For although it hath bene so from the begin∣ning, yet was it but little in respect of our tyme, wherein we see the qualities of the buildings and the number of builders farre to sur∣mount the olde tyme. And especially our Nobilitie haue therein exceeded, rather vpon vayne glorie then any necessitie. I suppose it is not much aboue threescore yeeres since that Architecture was restored in France, where before men lodged but grossely. But since that the faire fruites of this arte hath bene reuealed, many haue endeuoured to put them in practise. If none but great or ritch men had employed onely the aboundance of their Crownes vpon such workes, it had not bene to be reproued, considering they were ornaments both to towne and countrie. But after their example the meane wealthie persons, yea euen the poore haue coueted to set hand to the worke, and as it were at vnwares haue bene forced to doe much more then they thought for: and that not without re∣pentaunce.

The Lawyers likewise and especially the Treasorers haue likewise encreased the desire of the Lordes to building. For say they: How is this? These men that are not so well grounded as wee Page  107 doe build like Princes, and shall we sit still? So as it were vpon spite one at an other, we haue a multitude of goodly houses made and that oftentymes with the losse of the reuenues, which are fal∣len to other men, through that vehement passion that vrged them to heape vp stone vpon stone. How many haue there bene that ha∣uing begunne stately buildings, haue left them vnperfect, as ha∣uing learned to bee wise in the middest of their follie▪ In euery Prouince wee see but too many examples. It may bee that some when they haue seene themselues so well clothed and spangled in golde, haue saide: This cage is too narrowe for so fayre a foule, it must haue a more stately one. To which discourse some flatterer may haue replyed. Sir, it is a shame your neighbour, who is no better then your selfe should be better lodged. But take hart, for he that beginneth bouldly hath finished halfe his worke, neither can a wise man want habilitie. Then he feeling himselfe clawed where it itched, by and by in his minde conceiued a purpose which he began with plea∣sure, continued with labour and charges and ended with sorrowe. So as it hath often fallen out, such a one hath builded a house fit for a Lord of 25000. Franckes rent, whose heire hath not found aboue seuen or eight hundred, and being ashamed to lodge his po∣uertie so stately, hath sould it to buy an other more fit for his liuing. And him that would not so sell, to bee driuen to feede vpon small loues, as wee say, and when his friends came to visite him, to enter∣taine them with discourses of Architecture. When Fryer Iohn of Antomeures (who was one of the pleasantest Monckes of his tyme) entred into any of these so stately houses or Castles, finding but a leane kitchin, he vsed to say. Oh! to what purpose are all these goodly Towers, Galleries, Chambers, Halles and Closets, sith the caul∣drons are so colde and the sellers so emptie? By the Popes worthie pan∣tofle, (for that was his accustomed oath) I had rather dwell vnder a small roofe, and out of my chamber heare the melodie of the spits, smell the sauour of the rost, and see my cubbord garnished with flagons, pots and goblets, then to dwell in these great Pallaces, to take large walkes and picke my teeth fasting after the neopolitaine maner. I like of their opinion that counsaile that if any will build, it be vpon condition that he sell little or none of his goods: And who so doth otherwise I referre him to the censure of Fryer Iohn of Anto∣meures. I knowe that one of the singularities in France is the stately buildings disposed ouer the fieldes, which is not els where to bee seene. But he that should withall reckon how many men Page  108 these magnificencies haue sent to the wallet, would say it were déere ware.

The third article that here I minde to set downe is a conse∣quence of the excesse afore going. For when a Gentleman hath * built a goodly house, it is not all: he must garnish it with mooue∣ables conuenient: otherwise it were but as a body without a soule. So that if he were earnest to haue it finished, he is no lesse eager to furnish it within, and ordinarily curiositie ouercommeth all con∣sideration of things necessary. He cannot rest till he hath gotten Flemish hangings and millan beds: and thereto will euen his friend prouoke him: respecting rather at vnawares the beautifying of his follie, then the bottome of his purse which many tymes is but flat.

In olde tyme if a Gentleman together with his wiues good huswiferie, at the ende of his daies left his house well furnished to his Children, it was a great matter. Now wee are so hastie, that in two yéeres wee must haue it decked vp, which impatiencie hur∣teth much: as therein obseruing neither tyme, quantitie nor qua∣litie of things: but onely noting what our neighbour doth, and sa∣tisfying our owne desire without measuring of our habilities. E∣uery man delighteth to see a proper house and handsomely fur∣nished: But it followeth not therefore that it is necessarie to haue such ritch mooueables. For handsomnesse consisteth in well dispo∣sing of those thinges that wee haue, conioyned with clenlinesse. Wee doe ordinarily see the houses of simple Burgeses and Mar∣chants, euen in the lowe Countries, so handsomely decked vp, and that with little, that Noblemen might be ashamed to keepe theirs so foule, and it is only care and diligence (things of small price) that doe breede this.

The Lord Marshall of S. Andrewes was most sumptuous in precious moueables, which caused diuers Princes, Lords, Gentle∣men and others, to endeuour to imitate him in such insupporta∣ble magnificence, to the ende they might bee wondered at as he was, but some of their Children haue bewayled their fathers fol∣lie: and this complaint hath encreased when byting vsurie with her long talents hath catched euen out of some Princes Castles such ritch booties.

The fourth article that I haue reserued to speake of, is the su∣perfluity * of the mouth expences, and the ouer great traines of most of the Nobilitie: wherein resteth no lesse disorder then in the rest. Page  109 They whose mindes doe somewhat aspire to 〈◊〉 or doe lone great traynes, weening peraduenture that he that rideth with sixe horses must haue more curtesies thē he that rideth but with three. Others also that delight in good companie, haue a great care to haue their tables alwaies well furnished. Now is there nothing wherein we vse lesse repugnance then in that contention which euery one ta∣keth in himselfe to vse either the one or the other: Neither were it much to bee misliked in the Nobilitie in case they excéeded not the bounds of their habilitie, but it is in them so easie a matter to faile of that, that of tenne you can hardly finde two that can bridle themselues therein. Among those that meane to followe the Court or Armes, there bee fewe but eate vp their whole reuenues of one yeere, some in sixe moneths, and some in eight, by reason of their great traynes and other expences. And although some maintaine or enritch themselues in such places, the number is but small: ex∣cept those that be benefited by the King or Princes: or those that in the warres doe helpe them selues with the large priuiledges thereof, yet all the rest doe feele the discommodities, in respect of the continuall charges that they are compelled to be at. Which notwithstanding, fewe doe amend, but contrariwise still they seeke some newe occasion of expences. What hath moued aboue three hundred Gentlemen yet liuing importunately to sue vnto our Kings to giue them the order of S. Michell, saue onely a desire to encurre newe charges, to the ende not to disgrace their newe dig∣nitie. Howbeit, there be aboue a hundred who finding that the con∣tinuation thereof led them the hye way to the Hospitall, haue layd vp their collers in their coffers, and moderating their vertues haue taken vpon them again their auncient course of life, and haue found ease therein. Who so likewise will count the Gentlemen of the Chamber, and of the bodie, the Escuryrie: the Coronels and Captaines, that likewise are more then we thinke for had, neede to studie, Arithmeticke. But thinking that some of them are to their costes growne wise, I wil now say no more. Neither wil I thinke but the seeking of offices proceedeth from some spring: Namely, from a desire that the Nobilitie hath to be well accoumpted of and to encrease. But their iudgement is amisse, to think that a dignitie may make a man worthie of honor, which is not truely atchieued but by vertue. As for those that for the most part doe n〈…〉r stirre out of the doores, they haue likewise so suffered themselues to bee led away by custome, that he whose father (who was farre ritcher Page  110 then he) kept but sixe seruants, hath aboue fifteene. But to what purpose doe so many gay garments, with so large and well furni∣shed a house serue, if a man haue not also a great trayne to make himselfe bee termed My Lord? They may for their discharge say that their fathers had not half so much rent as they, which is true. But withall that which then cost but fiue souze costeth now twen∣tie. As also it is but an abuse to relye vpon some small encrease of rent, and to haue no consideration of other discommodities. An auncient man speaking of the Romaines, hauing noted the maner of their life, sayd: That they built as if they should neuer dye, and in their almost ordinary banquets, fed as if they should liue but one day. I thinke that among vs there bee the like which put the same in practise: but if the Ciuill warre holde but a while, it will cure them well enough of this disease. I might yet note many other excessiue charges that most of the Nobilitie is at, in matters breeding plea∣sure, yea I might frame a fifth argument, but I will forbeare, lea∣uing to their iudgements that knowe what it is worth, how much money is so consumed. If now any be disposed to argue and gain∣say me as not being satisfied with that which I haue alleadged, my * desire is that he aske of the people as Tennisplayers doe: then if he enquire of Gentlemen that trauaile the worlde, their owne ex∣perience wil make their tongues to testifie well for me: For a great number of them doe walke, some an ordinary pace, others a trot, and others in post directly into the gulfes of pouertie: for custome and their affections concurring together, it is vnpossible to holde them backe. The aduertisement of an auncient Poet is excellent, who sayth.

Happie is he whom other mens harmes doe make to beware.

Yet haue we not much vsed it: but how should wee doe it, con∣sidering that notwithstanding wee feele the mischiefes euen vpon our shoulders, we can hardly bee brought to amendment? It were enough to breede shame, that a Gentleman for the least occasions of expence that happeneth should be driuen to sell or morgage his land, who then perswadeth himselfe that a small debt is but a small matter. Which also I will graunt him, but when he continueth in doing it againe, as it oft happeneth in tenne yéeres, he afterward findeth that all these small peeces gathered together doe make a great hole. But bad husbands will neuer enter into these ac∣compts, because it grieueth them to see such a heape of follies.

In olde tyme he was accompted a neede Gentleman, and one Page  111 that deserued not to bee thought ritch, that had not his house well furnished of necessarie things, and some good store of siluer in his closet, for any sudden necessitie, or to succour some friend that were fallen into aduersitie: or to make any such hastie iourney as his ho∣nour should commaund him: for such accidents can beare no delay. And because the Nobilitie in those daies was alwaies furnished of the meanes aforesayd, they were euer able to accomplish their de∣sires, where as we through our follie and wasting doe ordinarily faile in due debts. Thus wee see how euill husbandrie maketh rit∣ches as it were vnprofitable vnto some, when good husbandrie maketh them most profitable.

The meanes to attaine to the good vse thereof, is to conquer * the monster called Opinion that lodgeth within vs, and whence hauing expelled Prudence (who is the guide of our actions) he handleth those in whom he hath set foote, at his pleasure. There be two great proppes that holde him vp: namely, the example of the mightie and custome. But if we were well purged of vanitie he should haue no such power as he hath. It is too great ouersight at other mens appetites, in imitating them, to seeke to buy dis∣commoditie, and so consequently pouertie. Many accompt nothing to be more infamous to a Gentleman then couetousnesse, and my selfe doe confesse it: Howbeit, to the ende to eschue it, a man must not ensnare himselfe in the nettes of prodigaitie. And although that be a farre lesse imperfection then the other, yet is it still a rui∣nous mischiefe which must bee eschued, otherwise it were, accor∣ding to the prouerbe: for the auoiding of the feuer to fall into the who mischiefe. The couetous person loueth no man, because he hateth himselfe: and indureth many miseries in the middest of all his ha∣boundance. But the wastfull and superfluous man by ouerlouing himselfe runneth into pouertie.

The true way therfore is to guide himselfe in the meane, which * bringeth neither trouble of minde nor repentance, because it doth expell necessitie out of mens houses, and replenish them with ha∣boundance. It were a goodly matter if men could suffer reason so to rule them, that they would yeeld to the true exhortations to thē made, as well by the writings of the learned as by their friendes counsayles. And truely it were hard but they that reade the braue bookes of the auncients, namely of Plutarke (which entreate of the true vse of ritches, of thrift, of not taking vpon vsurie, & how to exercise liberalitie) & withall do consider ye examples of Page  112Epaminondas and Fabritius, should bee inuited to eschue all su∣perfluities. Secondly, the friends speeches should be of some force. For when we imagine: This man warneth me for my good: for he is my kinseman: he loueth me well: he is one that knowes the true rule*how to liue: he is a man of iudgement and experience: He must beof à very bad disposition that will take no profite of such instructions. But the most part are so disposed that what so goeth in at one eare, commeth presently out at the other, and so they turne to their olde liues. I will not denye but men must frame themselues to their countrie customes, euen in ordinary things, howbeit with this con∣dition, that they eschue all disorder and superfluitie. Finally, the best schoolemister that man can haue is Necessitie: for most are made wiser by her then by any doctrine or reason. Of Necessitie* there be two so••s. The one that haingeth inconueniences: The o∣ther that threatneth destruction. The first vrgeth, the second for∣ceth amend. So as we may say that vntill our owne experience hath perswaded vs as well as the wordes of the wise, all the mise∣ries of fooles stand vs in small stead. Happie therefore are those that can in so good tyme order themselues that they bee not after∣ward forced to keepe a straight dyet of iue or tenne yéeres long, for the repayring of those breaches which their excesse haue made▪ 〈…〉 vs speake somewhat of those that are thought well to ad∣minister * that which they possesse. If we looke well we shall see that many of them doe but appropriate their wealth to their owne glo∣rie and pleasures, as hauing small care of charitie: and they do thus discourse with themselues. I am neither couetous nor prodigall: but I sprud my goods honestly to my owne contentation and the encrease of my house. Who then can blame mee? Those that thus gouerne themselues deserue some commendation: but to bestowe all onely vpon themselues is a defect, and that no small one. This prouerbe is rife in many mens mouthes: Charitie begins with a mans selfe, neither must we vnclothe our selues to couer others. But these be such errors as extinguish al bountie. Nobilitie ought to eschue them be∣cause they corrupt the integritie of maners. And as the same is more bound then the common sorte to exercise it selfe in liberall ac∣tions, euen so is it to make it selfe to shine (measuring affection ac∣cording to habilitie) as wel for it owne contentation as for the pre∣seruing of good renowme. But if we list well to examine the rules, of Christianitie whereto espetially we ought to submit our actiōs, many shall finde themselues farre enough from the precents there∣of. Page  113 Yet are there but fewe that thinke vppon, and hauing thought of it once a weeke, it vanisheth as doth the image when a man tur∣neth his glasse: and so returning to their accustomed manner, they conceiue some imagination that to vse riches according to the commaundements of the diuine preceptes, is as much as to depriue themselues of the most parte of the honour, profit, and plea∣sure that they bring. But it is but a false imagination: for there is no perfect instruction that teacheth the true vse of riches, but the same is therein described. Hee that seeth himselfe rich, shoulde * often consider whence his abūdance commeth. And although that ordinarily it seemeth to proceed from the parents labors, yet must we cōfesse that it was brought forth by the blessing of God, who as Salomon sayth is the author of riches. The rich and the poore are mette, and the Lord made them both. Moses lykewise vppon this point giueth vs a verie holie admonition, as well generally as per∣ticularly, * saying: Let not thy heart be puffed vp, neither forget the*Lord thy God, that thou sayest not in thy heart: My power and the strength of my hand haue gotten me these goods, but remember the Lord thy God, that it is he that hath giuen thee this power. Nowe when we haue this liuely impression in vs, yt it is hee that giueth goods, we therevpon doe conclude, that it is his will they shoulde be iustly and truely administred. For our selues are but stewardes thereof, And so oft as we heare the poore crie in our eares, it is as if God should summon vs of our duetie, which is, to succour the needie. But if we stop our eares, they are as many condemnations agaynst vs: Which the rich glutton wel proued, who being plun∣ged in a sea of delights, reiected the grones of Lazarus. Heereby may we knowe that riches doe so besot those that suffer themselues to bee maistered by them that they forgette what they ought to doe.

Plutarke recordeth that the Scithians in the middest of theyr * banquets were accustomed to strike vpon & make their bowstrings to sounde, so to reclaime theyr spirits which they feared to molli∣fie & loose among the diuersitie of so many delicates: euen so like∣wise these worldlings that abounde with so many temporall bles∣sings ought sometimes to make sounde in their eares this saying of Iesus Christ (That it is more easie for a Camell to passe through a needles eie, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdome of heauen:) so to waken them out of theyr deepe slumber and want of charitie procured by the vapours of wealth. I knowe well inough that Page  114 some of those that set before their eyes nothing but worldly pompe will scoffe at this aduertisement, and saie that wee must preache magnificence and valiancie to yong Gentlemen, rather than these small duties of pietie, which are more fit for old men that haue not aboue some three or foure yeres to liue: which is as much as if they should saie, We in our youth will passe awaie our time in delights and vanitie, and when we grow into age we will take order for better go∣uernment. But to them I will make no other answere, but onelie aduertise them that to end well they must beginne well, and that death doth as soone catch him that is but twentie yeres old, as him that is sixtie.

The wise also wil reiect these scoffes, in consideration that it is no vncompatible thing to vse goods as a Christian and as a vertu∣ous person: for the one wel fitteth the other, but the worthiest must march first because that Euangelicall preceptes are to bee prefer∣red before those that proceede from Philosophers rules. The one pulleth downe our charitie euen to the poorest, and the other stret∣cheth out our liberalitie to our friends, and to those that deserue it: wherein there is not so great difference as similitude, in that eue∣rie of the sayde actions are well done, which likewise ought to proceede of heartie good will. These were good and profitable ex∣penses, wherein the nobilitie ought to imploie parte of their abun∣dance, * rather than in many vnprofitable vanities, for so should they not be without reward as Salomon sheweth saying: He that hath pittie vpon the poore lendeth vnto the Lord, and it shall bee paied him againe. In respect of other liberalities, I lyke of Alexander, whē * one asked him where he hid his treasure. I commit it (sayde hee) to the custodie of my friend: thereby signifieng that whatsoeuer was distributed vnto honest mē was not lost, because the reward of per∣fect amitie or loiall seruice, which thereby hee retained in their harts, was farre more precious than the golde or siluer that he di∣stributed among them. But withall, we must note that liberalitie must be vsed with discretion, in measuring the giuers abilitie, and not prophaning it vpon vnworthie persons. Who so therefore is desirous to learne the good vse thereof, let him reade Seneca his treatise of benefites.