The Circle of Honesty Squared

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Within the head of man’s a circle round
Of Honesty, in which no end2 is found.
Some think it fit this circle should be squared,3
Though to make Honesty take sides is hard.4
Prudence and Temperance as two lines5 take;                 5
With Fortitude and Justice, four will6 make.
If Temperance do prove too short a line,7
Then do the figure of Discretion join;8
Let9 Wisdom’s point draw up Discretion’s figure,10
That make two equal lines joined both together.11         10
Betwixt the line Temperance and Justice,12 Truth must point;
Justice’s line draw down to Fortitude,13 that corner joint.
Of Fortitude, which line do make agree14
With Prudence; Temperance must also be15
Of equal length with Justice; both must stand16               15
’Twixt Fortitude and Prudence on each hand.17
At every corner must a point be laid,
Where every line that meets, an angle’s made.18
And when those19 points too high or low do fall,
Then must the lines be stretched, to make them20 all      20
Even. And21 thus the circle round, you’ll find,
Is squared with the four virtues of the mind.

The Same Circle Squared in Prose

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A circle is a line without ends, and a square hath3 four equal sides, not one longer or shorter than another. To square the circle is to make the square figure4 to be equal with the round figure. Honesty is the5 circle without ends, that is,6 by-respects, for an honest man is honest7 for honesty’s sake. But8 to square this circle is9 very difficult, for it is hard10 for Honesty to take part with four sides without Faction. For where there is siding there is11 Faction; and where Faction is,12 there is Partiality; and where Partiality is, there is Injustice; and where Injustice is, there is Wrong;13 and where Wrong is, Truth is not; and where Truth is not, Honesty cares not to live.

But let us see how we can square this circle of Honesty. First, draw four lines: Prudence, Temperance, Fortitude, and Justice. These four lines, let them be cross parallels,14 to make a square,15 and at each end of every line make a point. At16 the line of Justice, a point of Severity at one end and another of Facility at the other end. And at either17 end of Fortitude, one of Rashness and another of Timorosity. And at each18 end of Temperance, Prodigality and Covetousness. At each end of Prudence, Sloth and Stupidity. Then draw out these points and make them angles: as Severity and Timorosity make one19 angle, Rashness and Stupidity another. Sloth and Prodigality make a third angle;20 Facility and Covetousness make the fourth.21

Then exactly in the midst of either line, set on22 either23 side of the line a figure: as Distributive on the outside of the line of Justice, and Communicative within the line. So on the line24 of Fortitude, Despair on the outside and Love within. On Prudence line, Experience on the outside25 and Industry within. On Temperance26 line, Observation on the outside and Ease within.

Then draw a line of Charity27 from the point Distribution, and from the point of Observation28 a Line of Discretion, and make an angle of29 Hope. Then from Community30 a line of Clemency,31 and from the point of Ease32 a line of Comfort, which make an angle of Peace. Then from Despair a line of Hope, and from Industry a line of Fruition, which make an angle of Tranquility. Then from the point of Love a line of Faith, and from the point of Ease a Line of Pleasure; this makes an angle of Joy. Then set a point at every angle, viz.,33 Obedience, Humility, Respect, and Reverence. And thus the square measured with truth will34 be equal with the circle of Honesty.