|Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916.|
Vol. I. Fourteenth to Sixteenth Century
|By Fulke Greville, Lord Brooke (15541628)|
From a Letter sent to an honourable Lady
WHEN you married him, I know for your part, he was your first Love; and I judge the like of him. What the freedom and simplicity of those humours were, every man is a witness, that hath not forgotten his own youth. And though it be rather a counsel of remorse than help, to lay before you your errors past; yet because they teach you to know, that time is it which maketh the same thing easy and impossible, leaving withal an experience for things to come; I must in a word lay occasion past before you.
| Madame, in those near conjunctions of society, wherein death is the only honourable divorce, there is but one end, which is mutual joy; and to that end two assured ways: the one, by cherishing affection with affection: the other, by working affection, while she is yet in her pride, to a reverence, which hath more power than it self. To which are required advantage, or at least equality: art, as well as nature. For contempt is else as near as respect; the lovingest mind being not ever the most lovely. Now though it be true that affections are relatives, and love the surest adamant of love; yet must it not be measured by the untemperate elne 1 of it self, since prodigality yields fulness, satiety a desire of change, and change repentance: but so tempered even in trust, enjoying, and all other familiarities, that the appetites of them we would please may still be covetous, and their strengths rich. Because the decay of either is a point of ill huswifery, and they that are first bankrupt shut up their doors.|| 2|
| In this estate of minds, only governed by the unwritten laws of Nature, you did at the beginning live happily together. Wherein there is a lively image of that Golden Age, which the allegories of the poets figure unto us. For there Equality guided without absoluteness, Earth yielded fruit without labour, Desert perished in reward, the names of Wealth and Poverty were strange, no owing in particular, no private improving of humours, the traffic being love for love; and the exchange all for all: exorbitant abundance being never curious in those self-seeking arts, which tear up the bowels of the Earth for the private use of more than milk and honey. Notwithstanding, since in the vicissitude of things and times, there must of necessity follow a Brazen Age, there ought to be a discreet care in love; in respect the advantage will prove theirs that first usurp, and breaking through the laws of Nature, strive to set down their own reaches of will.|| 3|
| Here Madame, had it been in your power, you should have framed that second way of peace, studying to keep him from evil, whose corruption could not be without misfortune to you. For there is no man, but doth first fall from his duties to himself, before he can fall away from his duty to others. This second way is, that where affection is made but the gold, to hold a jewel far more precious than it self: I mean respect and reverence; which two powers, well mixed, have exceeding strong and strange variety of working. For instance, take Coriolanus, whoPlutarch saithloved worthiness for his mothers sake. And though true love contain them both, yet because our corruption hath, by want of differences, both confounded words and beings, I must vulgarly distinguish names, as they are current.|| 4|