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Robert Bland, Proverbs
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1. Dulce bellum inexpertis.
War is approved by the young and inconsiderate, by those who are unacquainted with the dreadful waste of life as well as of property that it occasions. «Expertus metuit», by men of knowledge and experience it is deprecated. «Iniquissimam pacem justissimo bello antefero», I prefer, says the sagacious and humane Cicero, the most impolitic and disadvantageous peace, to the justest war; and yet with what precipitancy and on what trifling occasions do countries often rush into war with each another! If sovereigns would weigh the consequences, would put against the object contended for, the numerous lives that must necessarily be sacrificed in the contest; the number of women who would be rendered childless, or would lose their husbands on whom they, and perhaps an infant family, depended for their support, they would surely not think it too much to sacrifice a small portion of their dignity to prevent such accumulated evils; these, however, are a small part only of the miseries of war. They are, indeed, all that this country has for many ages been exposed to experience. On the continent, when an hostile army enters a country, what massacres, what destruction marks its progress! Whole towns pillaged and destroyed, and the miserable inhabitants put to the sword, or the few that escape driven into the fields, without shelter, without clothes, and without food, only preserved for a short time to die a more miserable death than those who perished by the sword. With this kind of destruction we have been long threatened, and who can tell how soon it may fall upon us! In this state of things, how mortifying must it be, to the grave and considerate part of the community, to see the time and energy of those who have the care of the government of the country, employed in rebutting the attacks of noisy and contentious pseudo-patriots; who appear to be moving heaven and earth to embarrass the proceeding of the ministers, solely, it is to be feared, in the paltry expectation of getting into their places: strange infatuation! That men of the largest property in the state should be most forward in occasioning its destruction: surely so monstrous a procedure must portend some dreadful catastrophe! «Quos Deus vult perdere prius dementat», God first deprives of their reason those who are doomed to be destroyed. «And God hardened Pharaoh's heart», we are told, «blinded his judgment, that he would not let the children of Israel go»; it being predetermined that the Ægyptians should suffer a severe chastisement.
Fuente: Erasmo, 3001.
2. Dulcè est Miseris Socios habuisse Doloris.
It is a comfort to the wretched to have companions in their misfortunes. It is pleasant, Lucretius says, standing on the shore to see a ship driven about by a tempest; or from the window of a castle, to see a battle; not that we rejoice in the sufferings of the unhappy people in the vessel, who all of them, perhaps, after long struggling with the danger, perish in the ocean; or at the fate of those who are killed or wounded in the battle: the pleasure arises from our being exempt from the danger in which we see so many of our fellow creatures immersed. The comfort, therefore, that we experience in having companions in our troubles, in finding others suffering pains similar to those with which we are afflicted, does not arise from seeing them in pain, but from finding that we are not singled out in a particular manner to bear a greater portion of evil than falls to the lot of others: whenever this does happen, it adds greatly to the misery of what kind so ever it may be. Some men are peculiarly unhappy in this way; in all public calamities, whether by sickness, fire, or inundations, a much larger than their proportion of the evil, being sure to fall upon them. But upon what principle are we to account for the avidity with which people flock to be present at executions? Here they become voluntary spectators of one of the most distressing and afflicting scenes that can be well imagined; particularly when the execution is attended with any additional circumstances of horror; when the criminals are made to suffer the most excruciating torture before death relieves them from their misery. May we attribute this propensity to curiosity, to a desire to see in what manner human strength or courage is able to bear such an extremity of evil? It were much to be wished, that women, whose soft and delicate frames seem to render them unfit for such scenes, did not make so large a portion of the spectators on such occasions.
«I have long been sorry», Mrs. Montagu says, Letters, Vol. IV, «to see the best of our sex running continually after public spectacles and diversions, to the ruin of their health and understandings, and neglect of all domestic duties: but I own the late instance of their going to hear Lord Ferrers's sentence particularly provoked me: the ladies crowded to the House of Lords, to see a wretch brought loaded with crime and shame to the bar, to hear sentence of a cruel and ignominious death; which, considering only this world, cast shame on his ancestors and all his succeeding family. There was in this case every thing that could disgrace human nature and civil distinctions; but it was a sight, and in spite of all pretences to tenderness and delicacy they went adorned with jewels, and laughing and gay to see their fellow creature in the most horrid situation, making a sad end of this life, and in fearful expectation of the commencement of another». Lord Ferrers, it is known, was hanged for shooting one of his servants, in the year 1760.
Fuente: Horace.
3. Duos insequens Lepores neutrum capit.
Esp. Quien mucho abarca poco aprieta
Ing. Grasp all, lose all
By greedily attempting to take two hares together, they both of them escaped; like the dog who, catching at a second piece of meat which he saw by reflection in the water, lost that which he had in his mouth. Quien mucho abarca poco aprieta, grasp all, lose all.
Fuente: Erasmo, 2536.
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