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The errors of young men are the ruin of business; but the errors of aged men amount but to this, that more might have been done, or sooner. Young men, in the conduct and manage of actions, embrace more than they can hold, stir more than they can quiet; fly to the end, without consideration of the means and degrees; pursue some few principles which they have chanced upon absurdly; care not 8 to innovate, which draws unknown inconveniencies; use extreme remedies at first; and that, which doubleth all errors, will not acknowledge or retract them, like an unready horse, that will not neither stop nor turn.
Men of Age object too much, consult too long, adventure too little, repent too soon, and seldom drive business home to the full period, but content themselves with a mediocrity of success.
Certainly it is good to compound employments of both;o for that will be good for the present, because the virtues of either age may correct the defects of both ; and good for succession, 10 that young men may be learners, while men in age are actors; and lastly, good for externe accidents, because authority followeth old men, and favour and popularity youth.
But, for the moral part, perhaps, Youth will have the pre-eminence, as Age hath for the politic. A certain Rabbin,11 upon the text, 'Your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams,' inferreth that young men are admitted nearer to God than old, because vision is a clearer revelation than a dream; and certainly, the more a man drinketh of the world, the more it intoxicateth : and Age doth profit rather in the powers of understanding, than in the virtues of the will and affections.
There be some have 12 an over-early ripeness in their years, which fadeth betimes : these are, first, such as have brittle wits, the edge whereof is soon turned : such as was Hermogenes 13 the rhetorician, whose books are exceeding subtle, who afterwards waxed stupid : a second sort is of those that have some natural dispositions, which have better grace in Youth than in Age; such as is a fluent and luxuriant speech, which becomes Youth well, but not Age: so Tully saith of Hortensius, ' Idem manebat, neque idem decebat :'14 the third is of such as take too high a strain at the first, and are magnanimous more than tract of years can uphold; as was Scipio Africanus, of whom Livy saith, in effect, 'Ultima primis cedebant.' 15
NOTES ON ESSAY XLII. 1. invention'--the inventive faculty ; power of inventing. 2. divinely'-by Divine inspiration. 3. "Julius Cæsar,' the dictator of Rome, was born B.C. 100.
Having struggled against much opposition, and overcome many difficulties, he became consul with the government of Gaul, B.C. 59, that is, when he was forty-one years old. The remaining fifteen years of his life were marked by one unbroken series of brilliant successes. He was assassinated
•Septimius Severus,' Emperor of Rome, was born A.D. 146,
and ascended the throne A.D. 193, when he was forty-seven years old. He reigned for eighteen years with great ability and remarkable vigour and energy. He defeated his rivals, carried on a successful war in the East; and in A.D. 208, though advanced in years, and in ill health, he visited Britain for the purpose of clearing the northern province from native Caledonian invaders, who had broken through the boundary rampart, and were devastating the country southwards. His conduct of this campaign affords one of the most striking examples in history of physical incapacity conquered by an indomitable will and a determined energy. An old man, accustomed to luxury, and so much a martyr to gout that he had to be carried in a litter, he successfully conducted a great military expedition, crossing and recrossing the Grampian Hills, and led his army triumphantly over rivers and across ravines, and through pathless woods and
dangerous morasses. He died at York, A.D. 211. 4. 'He spent a youth filled with errors and even with madness.'
The quotation is from Spartianus, a Roman historian, who lived in the time of Diocletian and Constantine, and wrote
the lives of several of the Emperors. 5. ‘Augustus Cæsar'—the first Roman Emperor, and great-nephew
of Julius Cæsar, at the time of whose assassination he was nineteen years of age; the next year he became consul.
•Cosmus, Duke of Florence.' See also note 8, Essay IV. In
1540, at the age of twenty-one, he became head of the Florentine republic, which he ruled successfully for thirtyfour years. Though his rule was absolute and at first cruel
, he acquired great influence and fame. He restored the University of Pisa, and founded the Academy of Florence; he established a magnificent picture-gallery, and gave liberal encouragement both to art and science. "Gaston de Foix'-Duke of Nemours, and nephew of Louis
XII of France, by whom, when only in his twenty-third year (A.D. 1511), he was appointed to the command of the forces in the war which followed the formation of the 'Holy League' by Pope Julius II for expelling the French from Italy. He was then a young officer of great ability and promise, and in the short campaign of 1512 he distinguished himself by his own exploits of personal valour, and by the signal successes of his military operations. He compelled the Spaniards to raise the siege of Bologna, captured Brescia from the Venetians with immense plunder, invaded the Romagna, and utterly defeated the Spaniards before Ravenna on Easter Sunday, April 11, 1512, taking amongst other prisoners the celebrated Don Pedro Navarro, and Cardinal de Medici, afterwards Pope Leo X. The young hero, however, in a daring attempt to intercept the escape of a large body of Spanish infantry, was surrounded by them and hurled from his horse, and died, having received no less than twenty wounds.
A beautiful marble monument was designed for him, and commenced by the famous Italian sculptor, Il Bambaia (Agostino Busti), but never finished. Five portions of it, of
rare beauty, are now in the Museum at South Kensington. 6. composition'-temperament, disposition, character. 7. "abuseth'-misguides, misdirects. 8. care not'-do not scruple. He means that young men are
too ready to innovate, while below he says that old men are
too scrupulous about it, and 'adventure too little.' 9. 'to compound employments of both'—to employ both old and
young men in business. 10. "succession'-future time. II. •A certain Rabbin.' He refers to Isaac Abrabanel, a learned
Jew, who wrote commentaries on the Old Testament and
The name Rabbi or Rabbin is a Jewish title of respect, pronoun when its antecedent is obvious is very common, as in the Prayer-Book, 'to do always that' (i.e. that which) 'is righteous in Thy sight.'
equivalent to our Master, Lord, Sir. 12. "some have'-for some who have. The omission of the relative
'In war was never lion raged more fierce'-Richard II, II, i. I have a brother is condemned to die'
-Measure for Measure, II, ii. • Now follows that you know'-Hamlet, I, ii. 13. Hermogenes'-a distinguished rhetorician of the second cen.
tury, and born at Tarsus in Cilicia. His life presents a remarkable instance of wonderful precocity of talent speedily followed by its utter extinction. At fifteen he was a famous orator, and at seventeen he published a famous book on rhetoric; at twenty-five he entirely lost his memory, and
sank into a state of imbecility. 14. 'He remained the same, but (when older) was not so becoming.'
Quintus Hortensius was a celebrated Roman orator (B.C.
114-50), and Cicero's colleague and rival. 15. "The close did not match the beginning.' The quotation is from
Livy, xxxviii, 53, but not accurate. The exact words are: • Memorabilior prima pars vitæ quam postrema fuit '—'The first part of his life was more distinguished than the latter-of which the context clearly shows the meaning to be that Scipio Africanus was more famous in war than in peace, and that the latter part of his life being spent in peace, offered no scope for him to display his great abilities.
ANALYSIS OF ESSAY XLII.
I. A comparison of the benefits and drawbacks common in youth A. The characteristics of youth: 1. It is liable to unwise cogitations, but has lively in.
vention and imagination. 2. In violent natures it is unripe for action; but ripe in
reposed natures.' 3. It is fitter to invent, execute, and project than to
judge, advise, or carry on 'settled business.'
(a.) Attempt too much.
Are never willing to acknowledge errors.
2. It is too fearful of adventure.
3. It is contented with only partial success. II. The wise course, therefore, is in business to employ both youth
and age, which ensures1. Present efficiency. 2. Future efficiency, young men now learning from their
elders, 3. External success, because combining authority and popu
larity. 4. The moral advantages of youth, combined with the
political advantages of age. III. Youth sometimes fails to fulfil its promise
1. When the intellect cannot bear lengthened strain.
(Hermogenes.) 2. When the giits possessed are appropriate to youth, but
not to age. (Hortensius.) 3. When men begin by aiming too high. (Scipio Africanus.)
XLIII.-OF BEAUTY. (1612, slightly enlarged 1625.) VIRTUE is like a rich stone, best plain set; and surely Virtue is best in a body that is comely, though not of delicate features ; and that hath rather dignity of presence,2 than Beauty of aspect. Neither is it almost 3 seen that very beautiful persons are otherwise of great Virtue; as if nature were rather busy not to err, than in labour to produce excellency; and therefore they prove accomplished, but not of great spirit;4 and study rather behaviour, than Virtue. But this holds not always; for Augustus Cæsar,5 Titus Vespasianus, Philip le Bel of France, Edward the Fourth of England, Alcibiades of Athens, Ismael the Sophy of Persia, were all high and great spirits, and yet the most beautiful men of their times. In Beauty, that of favour 6 is more than that of colour; and that of decent and gracious '
motion, more than that of favour. That is the best part of Beauty, which a picture cannot express; no, nor the first sight of the life. There is no excellent Beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion. A man cannot tell whether Apelles 8 or Albert Durer were the more trifler; whereof the one would make a personage by geometrical