Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. II. Sixteenth Century to the Restoration
Measure of Things
By John Selden (15841654)
From the Table-Talk
WE measure from ourselves; and as things are for our use and purpose, so we approve them. Bring a pear to the table that is rotten, we cry it down, tis naught; but bring a medlar that is rotten, and tis a fine thing; and yet Ill warrant you the pear thinks as well of itself as the medlar does.
We measure the excellency of other men by some excellency we conceive to be in ourselves. Nash a poet, poor enough (as poets usd to be), seeing an alderman with his gold chain upon his great horse, by way of scorn, said to one of his companions, Do you see yon fellow, how goodly, how big he looks? Why, that fellow cannot make a blank verse.
Nay, we measure the goodness of God from ourselves; we measure his goodness, his justice, his wisdom, by something we call just, good, or wise in ourselves; and in so doing, we judge proportionably to the country-fellow in the play, who said if he were a King, he would live like a lord, and have peas and bacon every day, and a whip that cried slash.