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These things I have alleged, as it was but reason, upon a supposition that there is a forbearance of inflicting punishment upon the wicked. As for what remains, it behooves us to listen to Hesiod, where he asserts,—not like Plato, that punishment is a suffering which accompanies injustice,—but that it is of the same age with it, [p. 154] and arises from the same place and root. For, says he,
Bad counsel, so the Gods ordain,
Is most of all the adviser's bane.

And in another place,

He that his neighbor's harm contrives, his art
Contrives the mischief 'gainst his own false heart.

It is reported that the cantharis fly, by a certain kind of contrariety, carries within itself the cure of the wound which it inflicts. On the other side wickedness, at the same time it is committed, engendering its own vexation and torment, not at last, but at the very instant of the injury offered, suffers the reward of the injustice it has done. And as every malefactor who suffers in his body bears his own cross to the place of his execution, so are all the various torments of various wicked actions prepared by wickedness herself. Such a diligent architectress of a miserable and wretched life is wickedness, wherein shame is still accompanied with a thousand terrors and commotions of the mind, incessant repentance, and never-ceasing tumults of the spirits. However, there are some people that differ little or nothing from children, who, many times beholding malefactors upon the stage, in their gilded vestments and short purple cloaks, dancing with crowns upon their heads, admire and look upon them as the most happy persons in the world, till they see them gored and lashed, and flames of fire curling from underneath their sumptuous and gaudy garments. Thus there are many wicked men, surrounded with numerous families, splendid in the pomp of magistracy, and illustrious for the greatness of their power, whose punishments never display themselves till those glorious persons come to be the public spectacles of the people, either slain and lying weltering in their blood, or else standing on the top of the rock, ready to be tumbled headlong down the precipice; which indeed cannot [p. 155] so well be said to be a punishment, as the consummation and perfection of punishment.

Moreover, as Herodicus the Selymbrian, falling into a consumption, the most incurable of all diseases, was the first who intermixed the gymnastic art with the science of physic (as Plato relates), and in so doing did spin out in length a tedious time of dying, as well for himself as for others laboring under the same distemper; in like manner some wicked men who flatter themselves to have escaped the present punishment, not after a longer time, but for a longer time, endure a more lasting, not a slower punishment; not punished with old age, but growing old under the tribulation of tormenting affliction. When I speak of a long time I speak in reference to ourselves. For as to the Gods, every distance and distinction of human life is nothing; and to say ‘now, and not thirty years ago’ is the same thing as to say that such a malefactor should be tormented or hanged in the afternoon and not in the morning;—more especially since a man is but shut up in this life, like a close prisoner in a gaol, from whence it is impossible to make an escape, while yet we feast and banquet, are full of business, receive rewards and honors and sport. Though certainly these are but like the sports of those that play at dice or draughts in the gaol, while the rope all the while hangs over their heads.

1 Hesiod, Works and Days, 265.

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