The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 4
Of Nature in Men
Of Nature in Men.
"Optimus ille animi vindex, lædantia pectus
Vineula qui rupit, dedoluitque semel."
["He best assorts his mental dignity,
Who bursts the trammels that enslave his breast,
Hears all the pain at once, and is at rest."]
Neither is the ancient rule amiss, to bend nature as a wand, to a contrary extreme, whereby to set it right, page 28 understanding it where the contrary extreme is no vice. Let not a man force a habit upon himself with a perpetual continuance, but with some intermission, for both the pause reinforeeth the new onset; and if a man that is not perfect be ever in practice, he shall as well practise his errors as his abilities, and induce one habit of both, and there is no means to help this but by seasonable intermission; but let not a man trust his victory over his nature too far, for nature will lie buried a great time, and yet revive upon the occasion or temptation; like as it was with Æsop's damsel, turned from a cat to a woman, who sat very demurely at the board's end till a mouse ran before her: therefore, let a man either avoid the occasion altogether, or put himself often to it, that he may be little moved with it. A man's nature is best perceived in privateness, for there is no affectation in passion; for that putteth a man out of his precepts, and in a new case or experiment, for there custom leaveth him. They are happy men whose natures sort with their vocations, otherwise they may say," Multum incola fuit anima mea"—["My mind hath been much at home"], when they converse in those things they do not affect. In studies, whatsoever a man commandeth upon himself, let him set hours for it; but whatsoever is agreeable to his nature, let him take no care for any set times, for his thoughts will fly to it of themselves, so as the spaces of other business or studies will suffice. A man's nature runs either to herbs or weeds; therefore let him seasonably water the one, and destroy the other.