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1. Of Truth.
HAT is Truth? said jesting Pilate, and
would not stay for an Answer. Certainly there be that delight in Giddi
ness, and count it a Bondage to fix a Belief; affecting Free-will in Thinking as well as in Acting. And though the Sects of Philosophers of that Kind be gone, yet there remain certain dilcoursing Wits, which are of the same Veins, though there be not so much Blood in them as was in those of the Ancients. But it is not only the Difficulty and Labour which Men take in finding out of Truth; nor again, that when it is found, it imposeth upon men's Thoughts, that doth bring Lies in favour ; but a natural, though corrupt, Love of the Lie itself. One of the later Schools? of the Grecians examineth the matter, and is at a stand to think what should be in it, that men should love Lies, where neither they make for Pleasure, as with Poets; nor for Advantage, as
i S. John xviii. 38.
with the Merchant; but for the Lie's fake. But I cannot tell: This same Truth is a naked and open Daylight, that doth not show the Masques and Mummeries, and Triumphs of the world, half so stately and daintily, as Candlelights. Truth may perhaps come to the price of a Pearl, that showeth best by Day; but it will not rise to the Price of a Diamond or Carbuncle, that sheweth best in varied Lights. A mixture of a Lie doth ever add Pleasure. Doth any man doubt, that if there were taken out of Men's Minds vain Opinions, flattering Hopes, false Valuations, Imaginations as one would, and the like; but it would leave the Minds of a Number of Men poor Ihrunken Things, full of Melancholy and Indifposition, and unpleasing to themselves ? One of the Fathers, in great Severity, called Poesy, Vinum Dæmonum ; because it filleth the Imagination, and yet it is but with the Shadow of a Lie. But it is not the Lie that paffeth through the Mind, but the Lie that sinketh in and settleth in it, that doth the Hurt, such as we spake of before. But howsoever these things are thus in Men's depraved Judgements and Affections, yet Truth, which only doth judge itself, teacheth, that the Inquiry of Truth, which is the Love-making or Wooing of it; the Knowledge of Truth, which is the Presence of it; and the Belief of Truth, which is the enjoying of it; is the Sovereign Good of human Nature.
The allusion is probably to S. Jerome, in Epiftol. de duobus filiis, who says, “ Dæmonem cibus eft carmina Poetarum,” &c.
The first Creature of God, in the Works of the Days, was the Light of the Sense; the last was the Light of Reason; and his Sabbath Work, ever since, is the Illumination of his Spirit. First he breathed Light upon the Face of the Matter, or Chaos; then he breathed Light into the Face of Man; and still he breatheth and inspireth Light into the Face of his Chosen. The Poet," that beautified 5 the Sect that was otherwise inferior to the rest, faith yet excellently well; It is a Pleasure to stand upon the Shore, and to see Ships tost upon the Sea : a Pleasure to stand in the Window of a Castle, and to see a Battle, and the Adventures thereof below : but no Pleasure is comparable to the standing upon the vantage Ground of Truth; (A Hill not to be commanded, and where the Air is always clear and serene) and to see the Errors, and Wanderings, and Mifts, and Tempefts, in the Vale below : So always that this Prospect be with Pity, and not with Swelling, or Pride. Certainly, it is Heaven upon
Earth to have a Man's Mind move in Charity, rest in Providence, and turn upon the Poles of Truth.
To pass from Theological and Philosophical Truth, to the Truth of civil Business, it will be acknowledged, even by those that practise it not, that clear and round dealing is the Honour of Man's Nature, and that Mixture of Falsehood is like Alloy in Coin of Gold and Silver, which may
• Lucretius, lib. i. ab init. It is superfluous to add that the parsage is loosely paraphrased. Comp. Advancement of Learning, lib. i. p. 63.-Ed. 1640.
Beautified, i, e, embellished, set off to advantage.
make the Metal work the better, but it embaseth it : for these winding and crooked Courses are the Goings of the Serpent; which goeth basely upon the belly, and not upon the Feet. There is no Vice that doth so cover a Man with Shame as to be found false and perfidious. And therefore Montaigne faith prettily, when he enquired the reason why the Word of the Lie should be such a Difgrace, and such an Odious Charge ? 6 Saith he, If it be well weighed, to say that a Man lieth, is as much as to say, that he is brave towards God, and a Coward towards Men: For a Lie faces God, and shrinks from Man. Surely the Wickedness of Falsehood and Breach of Faith cannot possibly be so highly expressed as in that it shall be the last Peal to call the Judgements of God
Judgements of God upon the Generations of Men: it being foretold that when Christ cometh, He shall not find Faith upon the Earth.7
See the 18th Essay on the second book Du Desmentir. Montaigne's words are, “C'est un vilain vice que le mentir, et qu'un ancien a peint bien honteusement, quand il dit, que c'est donner témoignage de mepriser Dieu, et quand et quand de craindre les hommes. Il n'est pas possible de representer plus richement l'hor.
la vilité et le defréglement: car que peut on imaginer plus vilain, que d'estre couart à l'endroit des hommes, et brave à l'endroit de Dieu ?”
The ancient referred to is Plutarch in the Life of Lysander. It appears to me that Lord Bacon may have used Florio's version.
7 Luke xviii, 8.