Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. I. Fourteenth to Sixteenth Century
The Excellence of Duty
By Fulke Greville, Lord Brooke (15541628)
From a Letter sent to an honourable Lady
THEREFORE noble Lady, as the straight line shews both it self and the crooked: so doth an upright course of life, yield all true ways of advantage, and by mastering our own affections, anatomizeth all inferior passions, making known the distinct branches out of which the higher powers of kindness, respect, and admiration do arise. A map, wherein we may by the same wisdom of moderation, choose for ourselves that which is least in the power of others. Besides, it plainly discovers that jealousy acknowledged advantage of worth, and so becomes the triumph of libertines; that grief is the punishment of wrong, or right ill-used. Curiosity ever returns ill news; anger, how great soever it seems, is but a little humour, springing from opinion of contempt; her causes less than vices, and so not worthy to be loved or hated; but viewed, as lively images to shew the strength and yet frailty of all passionswhich passions being but diseases of the mind, do so diseaselike thirst after false remedies and deceiving visions; as the weak become terrified with those glow-worm lights, out of which wise subjects often fashion arts to govern absolute monarchs by. For Madame, as nourishment which feeds and maintains our life, is yet the perfect pledge of our mortality: so are these light-moved passions true and assured notes of little natures, placed in what great estates soever. Besides, by this practice of obedience, there grow many more commodities. Since first, there is no loss in duty; so as you must at the least win of your self by it, and either make it easy for you to become unfortunate, or at least find an easy and honourable passage out of her intricate lines and circles. Again, if it be true, which the philosophers hold, that virtues and vices, disagreeing in all things else, yet agree in this; that where there is one in esse, in posse there are all: then cannot any excellent faculty of the mind be alone, but it must needs have wisdom, patience, piety, and all other enemies of Chance to accompany it; as against and amongst all storms, a calmed and calming Mens adepta.