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Merit, its value.

Who shall go about

To cozen fortune, and be honourable

Without the stamp of merit! Let none presume
To wear an undeserved dignity.


Merit, too often unrewarded.

O, that estates, degrees, and offices,

9-ii. 9.

Were not derived corruptly! and that clear honour
Were purchased by the merit of the wearer!
How many then should cover, that stand bare!

How many be commanded, that command!

How much low peasantry would then be glean'd

From the true seed of honour! and how much honour Pick'd from the chaff and ruin of the times,

9-ii. 9.

To be new varnish'd!


Mercy, the fairest virtue.

No ceremony that to great ones 'longs,
Not the king's crown, nor the deputed sword,
The marshal's truncheon, nor the judge's robe,
Become them with one half so good a grace,


mercy does.


Capriciousness of fortune.

5-ii. 2.

Will fortune never come with both hands full,
But write her fair words still in foulest letters?
She either gives a stomach, and no food,-
Such are the poor, in health; or else a feast,
And takes away the stomach,-such are the rich,
That have abundance, and enjoy it not.


The power of prejudice.

There may be in the cup

19-iv. 4.

A spider steep'd, and one may drink; depart,
And yet partake no venom; for his knowledge
Is not infected; but if one present

The abhorr'd ingredient to his eye, make known
How he hath drank, he cracks his gorge, his sides,
With violent hefts.*

13-ii. 1.

* Heavings.


Court and country manners.

Those, that are good manners at the court, are as ridiculous in the country, as the behaviour of the 10-iii. 2. country is most mockable at the court.

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If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do, chapels had been churches, and poor men's cottages, princes' palaces. It is a good divine that follows his own instructions: I can easier teach twenty what were good to be done, than be one of the twenty to follow mine own teaching.* The brain may devise laws, for the blood; but a hot temper leaps over a cold decree; such a hare is madness the youth, to skip over the meshes of good counsel the cripple.


Labour sweetens leisure.

If all the year were playing holidays,
To sport would be as tedious as to work;

9-i. 2.

But when they seldom come, they wish'd-for come,
And nothing pleaseth but rare accident.

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No might nor greatness in mortality

18-i. 2.

Can censure 'scape; back-wounding calumny
The whitest virtue strikes: What king so strong,
Can tie the gall up in the slanderous tongue?

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Before the curing of a strong disease,
Even in the instant of repair and health,
The fit is strongest; evils, that take leave,
On their departure most of all show evil.


Ceremony, its origin.

Was but devised at first, to set a gloss
On faint deeds, hollow welcomes,

Recanting goodness, sorry ere 'tis shown;

5-iii. 2.

16-iii. 4.

But where there is true friendship, there needs none.

*John xiii. 17.

27-i. 2.

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Thieves are not judged, but they are by to hear,
Although apparent guilt be seen in them.


Promises and Performances.

17-iv. 1.


Promising is the very air o' the time: it opens the eyes of expectation: performance is ever the duller for his act; and, but in the plainer and simpler kind of people, the deed of saying is quite out of use. promise is most courtly and fashionable: performance is a kind of will, or testament, which argues a great sickness in his judgment that makes it. 27-v. 1. Pleasure often preceded by labour.


There be some sports are painful; but their labour
Delight in them sets off; some kinds of baseness
Are nobly undergone; and most poor matters
Point to rich ends.

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1-iii. 1.

When lenity and cruelty play for a kingdom, the gentler gamester is the soonest winner.


Posthumous good and evil.

The evil, that men do, lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones.

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20-iii. 6.

29-iii. 2.

Where love is great, the littlest doubts are fear; Where little fears grow great, great love grows there.

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"Tis often seen,

36-iii. 2.

Adoption strives with nature; and choice breeds

A native slip to us from foreign seeds.


Patience and Cowardice compared.

11-i. 3.

That which in mean men we entitle-patience,
Is pale cold cowardice in noble breasts.



17-i. 2.

Things at the worst will cease, or else climb upward To what they were before.

15-iv. 2.

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Shall the proud lord,

That bastes his arrogance with his own seam,*
And never suffers matter of the world
Enter his thoughts,-save such as do revolve
And ruminate himself,-shall he be worshipp❜d
Of that we hold an idol more than he?

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26-ii. 3.

Thou hast seen a farmer's dog bark at a beggar?
And the creature run from the cur?

There thou might'st behold the great image of authority: a dog's obeyed in office.

34—iv. 6.

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Strange is it, that our bloods,

Of colour, weight, and heat, pour'd all together,
Would quite confound distinction, yet stand off
In differences so mighty.


Obedience to Princes.

The hearts of princes kiss obedience,

11-ii. 3.

So much they love it; but, to stubborn spirits,
They swell, and grow as terrible as storms.



25-iii. 1.

What our contempts do often hurl from us,
We wish it ours again; the present pleasure,
By revolution lowering,† does become

The opposite of itself.


The ill effects of neglected duty.

30-i. 2.

Those wounds heal ill that men do give themselves:
Omission to do what is necessary‡

Seals a commission to a blank of danger;
And danger, like an ague, subtly taints
Even then when we sit idly in the sun.

* Fat.

26-iii. 3.

tie. Change of circumstances, that is, the pleasure of to-day by revolution of events, and change of circumstances, often loses all its value to us, and becomes to-morrow a pain.'

By neglecting our duty, we commission or enable that danger of dishonour which could not reach us before, to lay hold upon us.

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Pardon, purchased by such sin,

For which the pardoner himself is in:
Hence hath offence his quick celerity,
When it is born in high authority:

When vice makes mercy, mercy's so extended,
That for the fault's love, is the offender friended.


The advantage of caution.

Things, done well,

5-iv. 2.

And with a care, exempt themselves from fear :
Things, done without example, in their issue

Are to be fear'd.

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O infinite virtue! com'st thou smiling from
The world's great snare uncaught?


25-i. 2.

30-iv. 8.

Flattery, its evil.

He does me double wrong,

That wounds me with the flatteries of his tongue.


Wisdom, superior to Fortune.

Wisdom and fortune combating together,
If that the former dare but what it can,
No change may shake it.


Calamity lightened by fortitude.

17-iii. 2.

30-iii. 11.

He bears the sentence well, that nothing bears
But the free comfort, which from thence he hears:
But he bears both the sentence and the sorrow,
That, to pay grief, must of poor patience borrow.
37-i. 3.


Adversity, the test of character.

In the reproof of chance

Lies the true proof of men. The sea being smooth, How many shallow bauble boats dare sail

Upon her patient breast, making their way

With those of nobler bulk?

But let the ruffian Boreas once enrage

The gentle Thetis,* and anon, behold

The daughter of Neptune.

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