The .iiii. Chapiter. Of the life that the Courtier ought to leade, after that he hath lefte the Court.
MYronydes a wise & sage Philosopher, Capitain of ye Boheciens sayd, that the prudence of a man was as well knowen by retiring from the e∣uill, as in chosing of the good,* forasmuch as vnder the euill commonly the good can not be hid, but vnder the pretence of good much euill may be dissembled: euen much lyke as the Antheme that beginnes Per signum crucis and endes in Sathanas and Barrabas: In like ma∣ner the great euils haue their begin∣ning by some pretence of fayned good∣nes, in such sort that they be coūterfeict much lyke Maskers, wrapt in swetnes as purging pilles, and gilt as is the Ru∣barbe. There is no man I thinke so mad that kepeth not himself in asmuch as he can from catching euil, and speci∣ally Page [unnumbered] from open euil: but contrariwise, it were wisedome to kéepe him from that which is not altogether good.
Alexander the great, causing himself to be healed of certaine woundes that he had receiued in battail, was reproued of his great minion Parmeno for put∣ting himself into great hazard in the warre:* To whom Alexander sayd, as∣sure me my frende Parmeno of those that be dissembling frendes, for I wil be ware of them that be my opē enemies.
Alcibyades, Agiselaus, Purrhus, An∣tigonus, Lentulus, and Iulius Caesar, were so circumspecte in these thinges that they were alwayes vanquishers, and died in the handes of their frendes, and specially because they chose the good and lefte the euil.
Then he that leaueth the court ought not only for to sée what he leaueth, but also what he taketh, considering that as much or more hard it is to content him hauing left the court, as it was a fore in the desiryng to bée in the court: what profiteth it to leaue the Court Page 18 wery & troubled, If thy hart can finde no rest in the place whether thou resor∣test? Our body fulfilled with meates is led where one will haue it, but the heart is neuer satisfied with desiryng,* and wold (if he might) be in fauor with princes of the courte, and on the other side at his ease in the village. If the Courtier dayly haue mynde beyng at home, of the passions & afflictions that he had in the Court, it had béen better for him neuer to haue gone from it, be∣cause that in remembring them, yt thin∣king is more pricking, and the mynde weaker to resist them.
In the court of princes chaunses of∣ten tymes that lacke of money or other great busines makes a man abstayne from doyng euil,* the which being after in his house doeth such déedes vnseeme∣ly in a gentleman, that they deserue to be corrected, yea, and bitterly puni∣shed.
There bée also another sorte of men that forsakes the Court to bée more idle at home:* And such would be Page [unnumbered] reiected frō the nomber of honest men, seing they chose that time for their pur¦pose to sinne in the village, fearing to be infamed or dishonored in the court, and yet beyng in the countrey liues with shame forgetting all reason. To exchue these thinges he that leaueth the Court ought to leaue hys percialitie that he hath folowed, and to forget all passions: otherwise he shall lament the swéete bitternes that he leaues, and be∣wayle the life that he hath begunne. This is true, that in ye court are more occasions geuen to destroy a man,* then are at home in his owne house to saue him. It is a small profite to the courti∣er the chaunging of his dwelling, vnles by the same meanes he change his con∣dicions. When the courtier saith I wil withdrawe me to my countrey and go dye at home, yt is wel said: but this shal suffice that he honestly withdraw him self, without determining there to dye. This mortall life is to vs so apointed,* that we ought not to pursue it with so∣row, but that we are bounde to amend Page 19 it. Whē Iob said Tedet animam meam vite mee, it was not for yt hys life weri∣ed him, but because hée did not amēd it.
Whosoeuer leaueth the court may be boulde to say that he goeth not to die: but may wel thinke he hath escaped from a fayre prison, from a confused life, from a daungerous sickenes, from a suspicious conuersacion, from a greate sepulchre,* and from a mer∣uail without ende. The wysest being in the court may say euery day that they dye, and at their houses in the countrey that they liue. And the rea∣son is: that being in the court, those necessary thynges that are to be done in the worlde, cannot be done as they would, nor when they would, for lacke of libertie. Yet I will not say,* but ma∣ny in the courte doo theyr deuor to doe as they would, but I dare affirme that for x. pound weight they haue of honest will, they haue not halfe an ounce of ho∣nest libertie.
Likewise, let him that forsakes the Court set a wise order in such busines Page [unnumbered] that he hath to do, calling to minde that to go home to his countrey néedes no long iorney,* but to dispoyle him selfe of the euil clothes of the Court néedes a wonder long time. For like as vices in¦crease in a man litle and litle, so is it meete to roote them out by litle & litle. This ought the courtier to do ye mindes to rule himselfe, plucke vp by litle pie∣ces the most notable faultes that are in him, and so preately dispatch himself of one vice to day, & from another to mo∣row, in such sorte that when one vice takes his leaue and is gon, straightway a vertue doe enter in his steade, so that in proces he may goe from good to bet∣ter. The courtier is in nothing more de¦ceiued then in liuing a wilde and wan∣ton life, parauenture the space of .xx. or xxx. yeares, thinketh in a yeare or two to become sage and graue,* aswell as though he applied all his life in a sober and sad life, & truely that happeneth for lacke of good iudgement, for it behoueth without comparison a lenger tyme for to learn to cast away vice, thē to learne Page 20 vertue:* considering that vices enter our gates laughing, and goeth out from our house weping and lamenting. O how much gréeueth it ye ambicious courtier, when he can not commaund as he was wont to doo? thē it may be sayd, yt to for∣sake ye court is requisite to a good heart, and a good witte to obtaine rest.
Those that leaue the Court for fainte heart, be of that nature that it is more painefull to them to sée themselues ab∣sent from the Court, thē their ioye was when they were in the court: which sayd persons if they would folow mine aduice and counsail should not onely leaue the court, but forget it vtterly for euer. And farther, the courtier ought to retyre in suche maner that hée may come to the Court againe, if the feare and study in ordering of his householde constrayne him eftsones for to desire the voluptuousnes of the court. In the heart of the prudent courtier that forsa∣keth the court,* when there falleth bi∣shoprickes or other great offices, the affections and desires of the mynde Page [unnumbered] ryngeth alarme, when he shall thinke if I had not come awaye so soone, that office or that dignitie had been myne: but he again remembring that many suche thinges hath fallen which he had not: so likewise might he haue in the stede of ye, a plain nay, of that which fell when he was gone. Then, is it not muche better to ouersee and trauaile his owne house then to haue suche a shamefull denial in the court?
Therfore destinies of the courtiers are so prompte and ready that for the most parte one is constrained to dis∣pise them more by necessitie, then by will, and in that meane while their purpose is at an ende before they them selues beware therof, For when the Courtier commeth to be at quiet with himselfe, aboue all thinges it is neces∣sary that he take hede of pesteryng of himselfe,* for if he did liue in the court euil willed, let him take hede, that in the village he dispaire not, by reason of charge, the importunitie of his wife, of his children, and the fautes of his ser∣uauntes, Page 21 the grudging of his neigh∣bours may parcase make him astonied: but to thinke again, that being escaped from the daungerous golfe of the court, he may repute him selfe halfe a God. And besides this,* none ought to thinke that he dwelling in a village in the countrey shall putte awaye all trou∣bles and displeasures, for it can not be, but he that neuer fell in the croked and rough way may happen to stumble in the plaine way and breake his necke: and therfore it is necessary that he re∣tiryng from the court, take the time as it shall come, that he may the more oc∣cupie him selfe in vertuous exercise, to the entent that to muche rest, and to much busines of minde let him not frō the great good that commeth of this,* to be well contented with a litle. Ioyne vnto this also that ther is none so much enemye vnto vertue as is idlenes, of ye whiche idlenes bée taken in the begyn∣ning thoughtes superfluous,* and conse∣quently the distruccion of men.
To the purpose, hath not the cour¦tier Page [unnumbered] cause to complayne,* that occupieth himself in nothing but in eatyng, drin∣kyng, and sleaping, and in the meane season his better age, that is to say, his youth consumeth away, as the fume of smoke, which proceeds of idlenes in the court and doyng nothing?* where con∣trariwise hée might in the village ex∣ercise himself to his honor, & to ye health of his body & profite of his neighbour.
In like maner also, the courtier that withdraweth himself should vse ye com∣pany of such as be graue, sage & honest, to the entent that in the steade of lyers,* flatterers, and triflers, which he was associate withall in the court, he may be accompanyed in the village with wyse and sage frendes, or at the har∣dest with good bookes, whereby in the lokyng of them he may vertuously im∣ploye the residue of his tyme,* and with sobrietie entertaine euery man, that men may say he is come from the court to please the good, and not to rule. And if parcase one would make him baylief in the village, or some other publique Page 22 officer, I would counsail him to take heede thereof as he would of the pesti∣lence, for because there is nothing so troubleous nor so hard a burden to the mynde as to take charge of the rude and simple. I doe not say nay, but that he may & ought to helpe the poore com∣mons of the village with suche know∣lege as he hath learned in the court, or had before hee came there, when they shall haue neede, eyther for loue or for money. Also if they bée at variaunce, helpe to appeace thē: if they be euil in∣treated, defend them. And this doyng, he shalbe estéemed of the commons & prai∣sed of the wise and prudent.* Aboue all thinges beware of prodigall apparell, superfluous banquetes, and delicate meates, and strong or precious wynes. For the absenting from the court ought to be to none other purpose but to liue soberly in ye village,* or els shall he make of the village the court, which should make of the court, ye village. And ye cour¦tier retyred from ye court ought to haue in singuler cōmēdaciō mercy, as to visit Page [unnumbered] Hospitalles,* succor the poore, counsail the Orphans, visite the prisoners, read the holy scripture, and finally that hee study to dispose his goodes vertuouslye during his life, for whē he shalbe dead, euery man will clayme his goodes,* but none will nor can discharge his soule. And most chiefly, let the courtier that goeth from the court occupye himselfe vertuously to dye. All these thinges that I haue sayd, let no man say that they be more easy to reade then to do: for if we will enforce our selues, we are more then our selues, and doe not then well remember our selues.