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118. JOSEPH HALIA 1574-1656. (Manual, p. 186.)
(For his Poetry, see page 57.)
THE PLEASURE OF STUDY. I can wonder at nothing more than how a man can be idle, but of all others, a scholar; in so many improvements of reason, in such sweetness of knowledge, in such variety of studies, in such importunity of thoughts: other artisans do but practise, we still learn; others run still in the same gyre to weariness, to satiety; our choice is infinite; other labors require recreation; our very labor recreates our sports; we can never want either somewhat to do, or somewhat that we would do. How numberless are the volumes which men have written of arts, of tongues! How endless is that volume which God hath written of the world! wherein every creature is a letter, every day a new page. Who can be weary of either of these? To find wit in poetry; in philosophy profoundness; in mathematics acuteness; in history wonder of events; in oratory sweet eloquence; in divinity supernatural light and holy devotion; as so many rich metals in their proper mines; whom would it not ravish with delight? After all these, let us but open our eyes, we cannot look beside a lesson, in this universal book of our Maker, worth our study, worth taking out. What creature hath not his miracle? what event doth not challenge his observation? How many busy tongues chase away good hours in pleasant chat, and complain of the haste of night! What ingenious mind can be sooner weary of talking with learned authors, the most harmless and sweetest companions? Let the world contemn us; while we have these delights we cannot envy them; we cannot wish ourselves other than we are. Besides, the way to all other contentments is troublesome; the only recompense is in the end. But very search of knowledge is delightsome. Study itself is our life; from which we would not be barred for a world. How much sweeter then is the fruit of study, the conscience of knowledge? In comparison whereof the soul that hath once tasted it, easily contemns all human comforts.
119. Owen FELTHAM. Circa 1610–1677. (Manual, p. 186.)
SEDULITY AND DILIGENCE. There is no such prevalent workman as sedulity and diligence. A man would wonder at the mighty things which have been done by degrees and gentle augmentations. Diligence and moderation are the best steps whereby to climb to any excellency. Nay, it is rare if there be any other way. The heavens send not down their rain in floods, but by drops and dewy distillations. A man is neither good, nor wise, nor rich, at once : yet softly creeping up these hills, he shall every day better his prospect; till at last he gains the top. Now he learns a virtue, and then he damns' a vice. An hour in a day may much profit a man in his study, when he makes it stint and custom. Every year something laid up, may in time make a stock great. Nay, if a man does but save, he shall increase; and though when the grains are scattered, they be next to nothing, yet together they will swell the heap. He that has the patience to attend small profits, may quickly grow to thrive and purchase: they be easier to accomplish, and come thicker. So, he that from everything collects somewhat, shall in time get a treasury of wisdom. And when all is done, for man, this is the best way. It is for God, and for Omnipotency, to do mighty things in a moment: but, degreeingly to grow to greatness, is the course that He hath left for man.
1 Used in the Latin sense of damno, to condemn, to renounce.
120. SIR THOMAS OVERBURY. 1581-1613. (Manual,
A FAIR AND HAPPY MILKMAID
Is a country wench, that is so far from making herself beautiful by art, that one look of hers is able to put all face-physic out of countenance. She knows a fair look is but a dumb orator to commend virtue, therefore minds it not. All her excellences stand in her so silently, as if they had stolen upon her without her knowledge. The lining of her apparel, which is herself, is far better than outsides of tissues; for though she be not arrayed in the spoil of the silkworm, she is decked in innocence, a far better wearing. She doth not, with lying long in bed, spoil both her complexion and conditions : nature hath taught her too, immoderate, sleep is rust to the soul; she rises therefore with Chanticlere, her dame's cock, and at night makes the lamb her curfew. In milking a cow, and straining the teats through her fingers, it seems that so sweet a milk-press makes the milk whiter or sweeter; for never came almond-glore or aromatic ointment on her palm to taint it. The golden ears of corn fall and kiss her feet when she reaps them, as if they wished to be bound and led prisoners by the same hand that felled them. Her breath is her own, which scents all the year long of June, like a new-made haycock. She makes her hand hard with labor, and her heart soft with pity; and when winter evenings fall early, sitting at her merry wheel, she sings defiance to the giddy wheel of fortune. She doth all things with so sweet a grace, it seems ignorance will not suffer her to do ill, being her mind is to do well. She bestows her year's wages at next fair, and in choosing her garments, counts no bravery in the world like decency. The garden and beehive are all her physic and surgery, and she lives the longer for it. She dares go alone and unfold sheep in the night, and fears
no manner of ill, because she means none; yet, to say truth, she is never alone, but is still accompanied with old songs, honest thoughts, and prayers, but short ones; yet they have their efficacy, in that they are not palled with ensuing idle cogitations. Lastly, her dreams are so chaste, that she dare tell them; only a Friday's dream is all her superstition; that she conceals for fear of anger. Thus lives she, and all her care is, she may die in the spring-time, to have store of flowers stuck upon her winding-sheet.
John Milton. 1608–1674. (Manual, p. 187-205.)
121. FROM THE HYMN OF THE NATIVITY.
It was the winter wild,
All meanly wrapt in the rude manager lies;
With her great Master so to sympathize;
The idle spear and shield were high up hung,
The trumpet spake not to the arméd throng;
But peaceful was the night,
His reign of peace upon the earth began:
Whispering new joys to the mild ocean,
The stars, with deep amaze,
Bending one way their precious influence;
Or Lucifer, that often warned them thence;
The shepherds on the lawn,
Sat simply chatting in a rustic row;
Was kindly come to live with them below;
When such music sweet
As never was by mortal finger strook;
As all their souls in blissful rapture took :
The oracles are dumb,
Runs through the archéd roof in words deceiving.
With hollow shriek the steep of Delphos leaving.
The lonely mountains o'er
A voice of weeping heard and loud lament;
The parting Genius is with sighing sent:
In consecrated earth,
The Lars and Lemures moan with midnight plaint;
Affrights the Flamens at their service quaint;
But see, the Virgin blessed
Time is, our tedious song should here have ending: