But everybody pays him great respect, everybody commends his meat-- that is, his money; everybody admires the exquisite dressing and ordering of it--that is, his clerk of the kitchen, or his cook; everybody loves his hospitality--that is, his vanity. But I desire to know why the honest innkeeper who provides a public table for his profits should be but of a mean profession, and he who does it for his honour a munificent prince. You'll say, because one sells and the other gives. Nay, both sell, though for different things--the one for plain money, the other for I know not what jewels, whose value is in custom and in fancy. If, then, his table be made a snare (as the Scripture speaks) to his liberty, where can he hope for freedom? there is always and everywhere some restraint upon him. He is guarded with crowds, and shackled with formalities. The half hat, the whole hat, the half smile, the whole smile, the nod, the embrace, the positive parting with a little bow, the comparative at the middle of the room, the superlative at the door; and if the person be Pan huper sebastos, there's a Huper superlative ceremony then of conducting him to the bottom of the stairs, or to the very gate: as if there were such rules set to these Leviathans as are to the sea, "Hitherto shalt thou go, and no further." Perditur haec inter misero Lux. Thus wretchedly the precious day is lost.
How many impertinent letters and visits must he receive, and sometimes answer both too as impertinently? He never sets his foot beyond his threshold, unless, like a funeral, he hath a train to follow him, as if, like the dead corpse, he could not stir till the bearers were all ready. "My life," says Horace, speaking to one of these magnificos, "is a great deal more easy and commodious than thine, in that I can go into the market and cheapen what I please without being wondered at; and take my horse and ride as far as Tarentum without being missed." It is an unpleasant constraint to be always under the sight and observation and censure of others; as there may be vanity in it, so, methinks, there should be vexation too of spirit. And I wonder how princes can endure to have two or three hundred men stand gazing upon them whilst they are at dinner, and taking notice of every bit they eat. Nothing seems greater and more lordly than the multitude of domestic servants, but, even this too, if weighed seriously, is a piece of servitude; unless you will be a servant to them, as many men are, the trouble and care of yours in the government of them all, is much more than that of every one of them in their observation of you. I take the profession of a schoolmaster to be one of the most useful, and which ought to be of the most honourable in a commonwealth, yet certainly all his farces and tyrannical authority over so many boys takes away his own liberty more than theirs.
I do but slightly touch upon all these particulars of the slavery of greatness; I shake but a few of their outward chains; their anger, hatred, jealousy, fear, envy, grief, and all the et cetera of their passions, which are the secret but constant tyrants and torturers of their life. I omit here, because though they be symptoms most frequent and violent in this disease, yet they are common too in some degree to the epidemical disease of life itself. But the ambitious man, though he be so many ways a slave (O toties servus!), yet he bears it bravely and heroically; he struts and looks big upon the stage, he thinks himself a real prince in his masking habit, and deceives too all the foolish part of his spectators. He's a slave in Saturnalibus. The covetous man is a downright servant, a draught horse without bells or feathers; ad metalla damnatus, a man condemned to work in mines, which is the lowest and hardest condition of servitude; and, to increase his misery, a worker there for he knows not whom. He heapeth up riches and knows not who shall enjoy them; 'tis only that he himself neither shall nor can enjoy them. He is an indigent needy slave, he will hardly allow himself clothes and board wages; Unciatim vix demenso de suo suum defraudans Genium comparsit niser. He defrauds not only other men, but his own genius. He cheats himself for money. But the servile and miserable condition of this wretch is so apparent, that I leave it, as evident to every man's sight, as well as judgment. It seems a more difficult work to prove that the voluptuous man too is but a servant. What can be more the life of a freeman, or, as we say ordinarily, of a gentleman, than to follow nothing but his own pleasures? Why, I'll tell you who is that true freeman and that true gentleman; not he who blindly follows all his pleasures (the very name of follower is servile), but he who rationally guides them, and is not hindered by outward impediments in the conduct and enjoyment of them. If I want skill or force to restrain the beast that I ride upon, though I bought it, and call it my own, yet in the truth of the matter I am at that time rather his man than he my horse. The voluptuous men (whom we are fallen upon) may be divided, I think, into the lustful and luxurious, who are both servants of the belly; the other whom we spoke of before, the ambitious and the covetous, were [Greek text], evil wild beasts; these are [Greek text], slow bellies, as our translation renders it; but the word [Greek text] (which is a fantastical word with two directly opposite significations) will bear as well the translation of quick or diligent bellies, and both interpretations may be applied to these men. Metrodorus said, "That he had learnt [Greek text], to give his belly just thanks for all his pleasures." This by the calumniators of Epicurus his philosophy was objected as one of the most scandalous of all their sayings, which, according to my charitable understanding, may admit a very virtuous sense, which is, that he thanked his own belly for that moderation in the customary appetites of it, which can only give a man liberty and happiness in this world. Let this suffice at present to be spoken of those great trinmviri of the world; the covetous man, who is a mean villain, like Lepidus; the ambitious, who is a brave one, like Octavius; and the voluptuous, who is a loose and debauched one, like Mark Antony. Quisnam igitur Liber? Sapiens, sibi qui Imperiosus. Not Oenomaus, who commits himself wholly to a charioteer that may break his neck, but the man
Who governs his own course with steady hand, Who does himself with sovereign power command; Whom neither death nor poverty does fright, Who stands not awkwardly in his own light Against the truth: who can, when pleasures knock Loud at his door, keep firm the bolt and lock. Who can, though honour at his gate should stay In all her masking clothes, send her away, And cry, Begone, I have no mind to play.
This I confess is a freeman; but it may be said that many persons are so shackled by their fortune that they are hindered from enjoyment of that manumission which they have obtained from virtue. I do both understand, and in part feel the weight of this objection. All I can answer to it is, "That we must get as much liberty as we can; we must use our utmost endeavours, and when all that is done, be contented with the length of that line which is allowed us." If you ask me in what condition of life I think the most allowed, I should pitch upon that sort of people whom King James was wont to call the happiest of our nation, the men placed in the country by their fortune above an high constable, and yet beneath the trouble of a justice of the peace, in a moderate plenty, without any just argument for the desire of increasing it by the care of many relations, and with so much knowledge and love of piety and philosophy (that is, of the study of God's laws and of his creatures) as may afford him matter enough never to be idle though without business, and never to be melancholy though without sin or vanity.
I shall conclude this tedious discourse with a prayer of mine in a copy of Latin verses, of which I remember no other part, and (pour faire bonne bouche) with some other verses upon the same subject.
Magne Deus, quod ad has vitae brevis attinet boras, Da mihi, da Pancin Libertatemque, nec ultra Sollicitas effundo preces, si quid datur ultra Accipiam gratus; si non, contentus abibo.
For the few hours of life allotted me, Give me, great God, but Bread and Liberty, I'll beg no more; if more thou'rt pleased to give, I'll thankfully that overplus receive. If beyond this no more be freely sent, I'll thank for this, and go away content.