Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. I. Fourteenth to Sixteenth Century
The Law of Change
By Sir Walter Raleigh (1554?1618)
From A Discourse of War
IT is the qualifications of our contemporaries, of the men that dwell at the same time with us, must make us happy or miserable; it must be their wisdom, justice, and honour, which are not local, as the law calls it, tied or annexed to a place, but moving and transitory as fortune itself. For there is the same proportion of good and evil in the world as ever, though it shifts and changes, not always in the same place, and never in the same degree; even the holy worship of God, religion, through the wickedness of men, has had its marches. Nor is man alone the subject of alteration and vicissitude; but the earth itself is sometimes dry land, and sometimes overwhelmed with waters; and a fruitful land has been turned into barrenness for the wickedness of them that dwell therein. All sublunaries being in continual motion, little knowledge in history will convince us, that persons, families, countries, and nations, have alternately fallen from great wealth, honour, and power, to poverty and contempt, and to the very dregs of slavery. We must look a long way back to find the Romans giving laws to nations, and their consuls bringing kings and princes bound in chains to Rome in triumph; to see men go to Greece for wisdom, or Ophir for gold; when now nothing remains but a poor paper remembrance of their former condition.
It would be an unspeakable advantage, both to the public and private, if men would consider that great truth, that no man is wise or safe, but he that is honest. All I have designed is peace to my country; and may England enjoy that blessing when I shall have no more proportion in it than what my ashes make!