Exhortation And Dehortation What

EXHORTATION, and DEHORTATION, is Counsell, accompanied with signes in him that giveth it, of vehement desire to have it followed; or to say it more briefly, Counsell Vehemently Pressed. For he that Exhorteth, doth not deduce the consequences of what he adviseth to be done, and tye himselfe therein to the rigour of true reasoning; but encourages him he Counselleth, to Action: As he that Dehorteth, deterreth him from it. And therefore they have in their speeches, a regard to the common Passions, and opinions of men, in deducing their reasons; and make use of Similitudes, Metaphors, Examples, and other tooles of Oratory, to perswade their Hearers of the Utility, Honour, or Justice of following their advise.

From whence may be inferred, First, that Exhortation and Dehortation, is directed to the Good of him that giveth the Counsell, not of him that asketh it, which is contrary to the duty of a Counsellour; who (by the definition of Counsell) ought to regard, not his own benefits, but his whom he adviseth. And that he directeth his Counsell to his own benefit, is manifest enough, by the long and vehement urging, or by the artificial giving thereof; which being not required of him, and consequently proceeding from his own occasions, is directed principally to his own benefit, and but accidentarily to the good of him that is Counselled, or not at all.

Secondly, that the use of Exhortation and Dehortation lyeth onely, where a man is to speak to a Multitude; because when the Speech is addressed to one, he may interrupt him, and examine his reasons more rigorously, than can be done in a Multitude; which are too many to enter into Dispute, and Dialogue with him that speaketh indifferently to them all at once. Thirdly, that they that Exhort and Dehort, where they are required to give Counsell, are corrupt Counsellours, and as it were bribed by their own interest. For though the Counsell they give be never so good; yet he that gives it, is no more a good Counsellour, than he that giveth a Just Sentence for a reward, is a just Judge. But where a man may lawfully Command, as a Father in his Family, or a Leader in an Army, his Exhortations and Dehortations, are not onely lawfull, but also necessary, and laudable: But then they are no more Counsells, but Commands; which when they are for Execution of soure labour; sometimes necessity, and alwayes humanity requireth to be sweetned in the delivery, by encouragement, and in the tune and phrase of Counsell, rather then in harsher language of Command.

Examples of the difference between Command and Counsell, we may take from the formes of Speech that expresse them in Holy Scripture. “Have no other Gods but me; Make to thy selfe no graven Image; Take not Gods name in vain; Sanctifie the Sabbath; Honour thy Parents; Kill not; Steale not,” &c. are Commands; because the reason for which we are to obey them, is drawn from the will of God our King, whom we are obliged to obey. But these words, “Sell all thou hast; give it to the poore; and follow me,” are Counsell; because the reason for which we are to do so, is drawn from our own benefit; which is this, that we shall have “Treasure in Heaven.” These words, “Go into the village over against you, and you shall find an Asse tyed, and her Colt; loose her, and bring her to me,” are a Command: for the reason of their fact is drawn from the will of their Master: but these words, “Repent, and be Baptized in the Name of Jesus,” are Counsell; because the reason why we should so do, tendeth not to any benefit of God Almighty, who shall still be King in what manner soever we rebell; but of our selves, who have no other means of avoyding the punishment hanging over us for our sins.

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Wolven hearts

Much quoted recently is Desmond Tutu’s exhortation that ‘love is stronger than hate’ – but it is not. Hatred is far stronger than love. The world would be happier if it were not so, but hatred is the strongest motivator of mankind.

I wonder that our demagogic politicians see no irony in examining and condemning the sewer of social media for spreading hatred when their own trade depends on it. Perhaps it is only unapproved hatred which is to be condemned, and indeed hated. Even in the Church of England, the one established body which is meant to be lapped in love, the faction making the most progress in its agenda is that of the ‘progressives’, succeeding by spitting untamed hatred at all opposition.

The wolf seeks meat; it is relentless and merciless; while single wolf may be cautious or even playful, a pack of wolves is unbridled, bloodthirsty, exulting in the kill and the tearing apart of the victim. It is raw nature. Likewise is mankind, and perhaps our concept of ‘hate’ is no more nor less than the wolf’s instinct.

Democratic politics necessarily involves the stirring up of hatred. An absolutist system may avoid it, but only if long established and unchallenged:  the tyrannies of the Twentieth Century are a lesson in the extremes of murderous hatred as a political method, both as to the way they took power and how they held it. Even in our more sophisticated climate the most effective political campaigns involve fomenting hatred by class, status, political tribe, race or other irrelevancies. Read any political headline for your evidence.

Hobbes observed in De Cive a speech in Rome’s troubles ages:

Pontius Telesinus; who flying about with open mouth through all the Companies of his Army, (in that famous encounter which he had with Sylla) cryed out, That Rome her selfe, as well as Sylla, was to be raz’d; for that there would alwayes be Wolves and Depraedatours of their Liberty, unlesse the Forrest that lodg’d them were grubb’d up by the roots. To speak impartially, both sayings are very true; That Man to Man is a kind of God; and that Man to Man is an arrant Wolfe.

In this Telesinus, interpreted by Hobbes, puts his finger on it: overthrowing a tyrant is moment’s victory, but the place from which they arose will breed ever more wolves, for the real enemy to liberty and love is mankind.

What to do then, if this is the case?  Start by recognising it, accept that we are not perfectible and every one of us contains the same flaws, and mankind will be the same until the very end of the age. Then we will have an understanding of the clay from which society and the demos and built, and build our commonwealth accordingly. Perhaps also those of goodwill and good sense should be in a better position to check our own wolfish instincts.

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Whatsoever thou art, thou art but a scurvy fellow

Toby Belch and Andrew Aguecheek are social media trolls. Packed into the scenes are follies, misunderstandings, fake identities, error, jealousies and malice which are the weave and weft of all human society, and this is what is displayed in its rawest form for us on social media, which makes it so compelling and repelling. That modern medium revolts us, but it is only a reflection of humanity.

The Bard understood, long before Zuckerberg or Dorsey or any of the others. Antonio, ashore in Illyria, declares Sebastian to be ‘unfriended’. Nothing is new.

Being skilless in these parts; which to a stranger,
Unguided and unfriended, often prove
Rough and unhospitable

I know how he feels. I do not follow social media and its memes and challenges and pranks, reading about them afterwards. It would be not beyond the usual bizarreness to find pranksters persuading their victims to “come smiling and cross-garter’d to you, to put on yellow stockings”. Then there is “and to frown Upon Sir Toby and the lighter people”; which shows that the ‘cancel culture’ is a social activity; a meme.

The play even has a Metaverse moment:

If this were played upon a stage now, I could condemn it as an improbable fiction.

A less regarded scene in Twelfth Night is actually very germane to its theme. In this, Sir Toby goads his easily led friend, Sir Andrew Aguecheek, to write a letter effectively challenging the young man Cesario (Viola) to a duel. Sir Toby is too much the coward to do it himself, but goads a patsy to do the dirty work. The excuse is that he believes ‘Cesario’ is making a play for Olivia’s hand, which Sir Toby hopes will go to Andrew Aguecheek (a hopeless vanity). It shows a lot about the characters of the men involved, and holds up a mirror to ourselves, and our online selves.

Therefore they set about a letter, a ‘malicious communication’ we might say, which makes sense only in the raucous, self-indulgence of drinking men’s society, and which could be deadly.

These are educated men though, not illiterate Tweeters, and some sense of caution is there to temper the words; a game which must have been familiar among disputing Jacobean swells in Shakespeare’s day who knew that the Assizes measured disputes which ended at the point of a sword:

Still you keep o’ the windy side of the law

The letter itself (excising the boisterous interruptions) runs like many an ill-thought accusation of our own day:

‘Youth, whatsoever thou art, thou art but a scurvy fellow. Wonder not, nor admire not in thy mind, why I do call thee so, for I will show thee no reason for’t. Thou comest to the lady Olivia, and in my sight she uses thee kindly: but thou liest in thy throat; that is not the matter I challenge thee for. I will waylay thee going home; where if it be thy chance to kill me, thou killest me like a rogue and a villain. Fare thee well; and God have mercy upon one of our souls! He may have mercy upon mine; but my hope is better, and so look to thyself. Thy friend, as thou usest him, and thy sworn enemy, ANDREW AGUECHEEK.

The misunderstood positions are in the comedy:  Cesario / Viola is not after Olivia though Olivia has fallen in love with ‘Cesario’, or rather with the shadow of Viola’s brother whom she imitates; Andrew Aguecheek has only his own self-delusion as to his suit or his abilities with a sword; and of course Cesario is not even Cesario.

If all this clash of misunderstood ideas, accusation, worked-up fury and half-thought posting sounds too familiar and personal, then log out from InstaTwitFace and whatever: while I will not say ‘be more of a human being’, because that is the problem, do try to think outside yourself.

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Melancholy, Madnesse and the Greeks

The opinions of the world, both in antient and later ages, concerning the cause of madnesse, have been two. Some, deriving them from the Passions; some, from Daemons, or Spirits, either good, or bad, which they thought might enter into a man, possesse him, and move his organs is such strange, and uncouth manner, as mad-men use to do. The former sort therefore, called such men, Mad-men: but the Later, called them sometimes Daemoniacks, (that is, possessed with spirits;) sometimes Energumeni, (that is agitated, or moved with spirits;) and now in Italy they are called not onely Pazzi, Mad-men; but also Spiritati, men possest.

There was once a great conflux of people in Abdera, a City of the Greeks, at the acting of the Tragedy of Andromeda, upon an extream hot day: whereupon, a great many of the spectators falling into Fevers, had this accident from the heat, and from The Tragedy together, that they did nothing but pronounce Iambiques, with the names of Perseus and Andromeda; which together with the Fever, was cured, by the comming on of Winter: And this madnesse was thought to proceed from the Passion imprinted by the Tragedy. Likewise there raigned a fit of madnesse in another Graecian city, which seized onely the young Maidens; and caused many of them to hang themselves. This was by most then thought an act of the Divel. But one that suspected, that contempt of life in them, might proceed from some Passion of the mind, and supposing they did not contemne also their honour, gave counsell to the Magistrates, to strip such as so hang’d themselves, and let them hang out naked. This the story sayes cured that madnesse.

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Lost to translation

Listening to sermons, I occasionally ponder how a particular telling phrase might be rendered in any number of interesting tongues that come across my attention: what is “You brood of vipers!” in Trøndsk or Middle Welsh or Old English? But it has been rendered in all of these, by native speakers. The problem is translation by non-speakers, which is most Biblical translations.

(In the King James Version, the best of translations and closest to the original, it is ‘O generation of vipers!’, which has a subtlety of meaning that needs understanding of the subtle tones within it.)

Think of those intent, Methodist missionaries on faraway Pacific islands, rendering the living words of God into languages of which they had but a beginner’s understanding. More of a challenge: they were translating words for those languages of a stone age culture which had no such words. How do you divide the sheep from the goats for a people who have neither beast, or describe the chariots of the Assyrians resplendent in gold to those without horses or wheels or metal?

Their influence remains, embedded in those languages they took on. Think of Hiram Bingham labouring away to translate the bible into Gilbertese, using (so legend says) a typewriter missing the ‘s’ key so that Gilbertese to this day uses “ti” instead.

The translator becomes the moulder of the language, and not just in emergent cultures. Once there were innumerable German dialects, but in the last four hundred years a single standard: that which was written by Martin Luther. English changed over five hundred years so radically that a paragraph written in the days of King Edgar was incomprehensible in the days of Henry VIII, but then the Prayer Book, the Bible and Shakespeare pinned it down so that our language has barely changed since Queen Elizabeth’s time. The Bible translators chose the words we use. It is just as well that they were poets in their choices.

This is a lot of trust to be reposed in one translator, curbing forever the speech of nations.

How would a mechanically working translator who has come lately to a language translate “γεννηματα εχιδνων”; “O generation of vipers”? Perhaps more easily than some concepts, as family relations are universal amongst mankind. In more complex concepts, he has the temptation to impose his own words, or may be stuck and use the wrong meaning, like the unthinking algorithms of Google Translate.

In the ordinary too, the translator can sap the life out of a language. The most beautiful spoken language, it is said, is Welsh, and Welsh is a living tongue I hear on the streets of the villages below the mountains, but for most it is the language put on road signs that are translated mechanically, into a version of Welsh words and phrases chosen by a committee to represent bureaucratic needs. Can this Committee-Welsh, with set words and phrases and inflexible grammar rules, ever be considered a living language?  Too easily it can become  tomb.

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