In choice of instruments it is better to choose men of a plainer sort that are like to do that that is committed to them, and to report faithfully the success, than those that are cunning to contrive somewhat to grace themselves, and will help the matter in report.
Cicero was at dinner, when an ancient lady said she was but forty: one that sat by rounded him in the ear, She is far more, out of the question. Cicero answered, I must believe her, for I have heard her say so any time these ten years.
As for the observation of Machiavel, traducing Gregory the Great, that he did what in him lay to extinguish all heathen antiquities: I do not find that those zeals last long; as it appeared in the succession of Sabinian, who did revive the former antiquities.
Whereas men have many reasons to persuade, to use them all at once weakeneth them. For it argueth a neediness in every one of the reasons, as if one did not trust to any of them, but fled from one to another.
With regard to authority, it is the greatest weakness to attribute infinite credit to particular authors, and to refuse his own judgment to Time, the author of all authors, and therefore of all authority.
As those wines which flow from the first treading of the grapes are sweeter and better than those forced out by the press, which gives them the roughness of the husk and the stone, so are those doctrines best and sweetest which flow from a gentle crush of the Scriptures and are not wrung into controversies and commonplaces.
A man shall see the noblest works and foundations have proceeded from childless men; which have sought to express the images of their minds where those of their bodies have failed: so the care of posterity is most in them that have no posterity.
Goodness answers to the theological virtue charity, and admits no excess but error: the desire of power in excess caused the angels to fall; the desire of knowledge in excess caused man to fall; but in charity there is no excess: neither can angel or man come into danger by it.
We want short, sound, and judicious notes upon Scripture, without running into commonplaces, pursuing controversies, or reducing those notes to artificial method, but leaving them quite loose and native. For, certainly, as those wines which flow from the first treading of the grape are sweeter and better than those forced out by the press, which gives them the roughness of the husk and the stone, so are those doctrines best and sweetest which flow from a gentle crush of the Scriptures, and are not wrung into controversies and commonplaces.
Audacity and confidence doth in business so great effects as a man may doubt that, besides the very daring and earnestness and persisting and importunity, there should be some secret binding and stooping of other mens spirits to such persons.
Whosoever hath his mind fraught with many thoughts, his wits and understanding do clarify and break up in the communicating and discoursing with another; he marshalleth his thoughts more orderly, he seeth how they look when they are turned into words.
But this kind of writing, which seems to be reformed, which is, that writing should be consonant to speaking, is a branch of unprofitable subtleties; for pronunciation itself every day increases, and alters the fashion; and the derivation of words, especially from foreign languages, is utterly defaced and extinguished.
A long table, and a square table, or a seat about the walls, seem things of form, but are things of substance: for at a long table a few at the upper end, in effect, sway all the business; but in the other form there is more use of the counsellors opinions that sit lower.
Habit, if wisely and skilfully formed, becomes truly a second nature, as the common saying is; but unskilfully and unmethodically directed, it will be as it were the ape of nature, which imitates nothing to the life, but only clumsily and awkwardly.
Imagination I understand to be the representation of an individual thought. Imagination is of three kinds: joined with belief of that which is to come; joined with memory of that which is past; and of things present, or as if they were present: for I comprehend in this, imagination feigned and at pleasure,as if one should imagine such a man to be in the vestments of a pope, or to have wings.
If you will work on any man, you must either know his nature and fashions, and so lead him; or his ends, and so persuade him; or his weaknesses and disadvantages, and so awe him; or those that have interest in him, and so govern him.
Men, forbearing wine, come from drinking healths to a draught at a meal; and, lastly, to discontinue altogether; but if a man have the fortitude and resolution to enfranchise himself at once, that is the best.
I would advise all in general, that they would take into serious consideration the true and genuine ends of knowledge; that they seek it not either for pleasure, or contention, or contempt of others, or for profit, or fame, or for honour and promotion, or such-like adulterate or inferior ends; but for merit and emolument of life, that they may regulate and perfect the same in charity.
Some men think that the gratification of curiosity is the end of knowledge; some, the love of fame; some, the pleasure of dispute; some, the necessity of supporting themselves by their knowledge: but the real use of all knowledge is thisthat we should dedicate that reason which was given us by God to the use and advantage of man.
For that conceit, that learning should undermine the reverence for laws and government, it is assuredly a mere depravation and calumny, without any shadow of truth. For to say that a blind custom of obedience should be a surer obligation than duty taught and understood, is to affirm that a blind man may tread surer by a guide, than a seeing man can by a light. And it is without all controversy, that learning doth make the minds of men gentle, amiable, and pliant to government; whereas ignorance makes them churlish, thwarting, and mutinous; and the evidence of time doth clear this assertion, considering that the most barbarous, rude, and unlearned times have been most subject to tumults, seditions, and changes.
Some that are of an ill and melancholy nature incline the company into which they come to be sad and ill disposed; and others that are of a jovial nature do dispose the company to be merry and cheerful.
Tunes and airs have in themselves some affinity with the affections; as, merry tunes, doleful tunes, solemn tunes, tunes inclining mens minds to pity, warlike tunes; so as it is no marvel if they alter the spirits, considering that tunes have a predisposition to the motion of the spirits.
The honest and just bounds of observation by one person upon another extend no further but to understand him sufficiently, whereby not to give him offence, or whereby to be able to give him faithful counsel, or whereby to stand upon reasonable guard and caution in respect of a mans self: but to be speculative into another man to the end to know how to work him, or wind him, or govern him, proceedeth from a heart that is double and cloven, and not entire and ingenuous.
A man cannot tell whether Apelles or Albert Durer were the more triflers, whereof the one would make a personage by geometrical proportions, the other by taking the best parts of divers faces to make one excellent.
In philosophy, the contemplations of man do either penetrate unto God, or are circumferred to nature, or are reflected or reverted upon himself. Out of which several inquiries there do arise three knowledges: divine philosophy, natural philosophy, and human philosophy, or humanity.
The empirical philosophers are like pismires: they only lay up and use their store. The rationalists are like the spiders: they spin all out of their own bowels. But give me a philosopher who, like the bee, hath a middle faculty, gathering from abroad, but digesting that which is gathered by his own virtue.
As there are mountebanks for the natural body, so are there mountebanks for the politic body; men that perhaps have been lucky in two or three experiments, but want the grounds of science, and therefore cannot hold out.
Most gracious Lord God, my merciful Father; from my youth up my Creator, my Redeemer, my Comforter: Thou, O Lord, soundest and searchest the depths and secrets of all hearts; thou acknowledgest the upright of heart; thou judgest the hypocrite; thou ponderest mens thoughts and doings as in a balance; thou measurest their intentions as with a line; vanity and crooked ways cannot be hid from thee.
Remember, O Lord! how thy servant hath walked before thee: remember what I have first sought, and what hath been principal in my intentions. I have loved thy assemblies, I have mourned for the divisions of thy church, I have delighted in the brightness of thy sanctuary. This vine, which thy right hand hath planted in this nation, I have ever prayed unto thee that it might have the first and the latter rain, and that it might stretch her branches to the seas and to the floods. The state and bread of the poor and oppressed have been precious in mine eyes; I have hated all cruelty and hardness of heart; I have, though in a despised weed, procured the good of all men. If any have been my enemies, I thought not of them, neither hath the sun almost set upon my displeasure; but I have been, as a dove, free from superfluity of mischievousness. Thy creatures have been my books, but thy Scriptures much more. I have sought thee in the courts, fields, and gardens; but I have found thee in thy temples.
O Lord, my strength! I have since my youth met with thee in all my ways, by thy fatherly compassions, by thy comfortable chastisements, and by thy most visible providence. As thy favours have increased upon me, so have thy corrections, so as thou hast always been near me, O Lord! and ever as my worldly blessings were exalted, so secret darts from thee have pierced me; and when I have ascended before men, I have descended in humiliation before thee. And now, when I thought most of peace and honour, thy hand is heavy upon me, and hath humbled me according to thy former loving kindness, keeping me still in thy fatherly school, not as a bastard, but as a child. Just are thy judgments upon me for my sins, which are more in number than the sands of the sea, but have no proportion to thy mercies; for what are the sands of the sea? Earth, heavens, and all these, are nothing to thy mercies. Besides my innumerable sins, I confess before thee that I am a debtor to thee for the gracious talent of thy gifts and graces, which I have neither put into a napkin, nor put it, as I ought, to exchangers, where it might have made best profit, but misspent it in things for which I was least fit; so I may truly say, my soul hath been a stranger in the course of my pilgrimage. Be merciful unto me, O Lord, for my Saviours sake, and receive me unto thy bosom, or guide me in thy ways.
Divine prophecies being of the nature of their Author, with whom a thousand years are but as one day, are not therefore fulfilled punctually at once, but have springing and germinant accomplishment, though the height and fulness of them may refer to some one age.
We ought not to attempt to draw down or submit the mysteries of God to our reason; but, on the contrary, to raise and advance our reason to the divine truth. In this part of knowledge, touching divine philosophy, I am so far from noting any deficiency, that I rather note an excess; whereto I have digressed because of the extreme prejudice which both religion and philosophy have received from being commixed together, as that which undoubtedly will make an heretical religion and a fabulous philosophy.
The strength of all sciences, which consisteth in their harmony, each supporting the other, is as the strength of the old mans fagot in the hand; for were it not better for a man in a fair room to set up one great light, or branching candlestick of lights, than to go about with a small watch-candle into every corner?
Men seem neither to understand their riches nor their strength: of the former they believe greater things than they should; of the latter much less. Self-reliance and self-denial will teach a man to drink out of his own cistern, and eat his own sweet bread, and to learn and labour truly to get his living, and carefully to expend the good things committed to his trust.
At a banquet the ambassador desired the wise men to deliver every one of them some sentence or parable, that he might report to his king, which they did: only one was silent, which the ambassador perceiving, said to him: Sir, let it not displease you; why do you not say somewhat that I may report? He answered: Report to your lord, that there are that can hold their peace.
Some noises help sleep, as the blowing of the wind, and the trickling of water: they move a gentle attention; and whatsoever moveth attention, without too much labour, stilleth the natural and discursive motion of the spirits . Tones are not so apt to procure sleep as some other sounds; as the wind, the purling of waters, and humming of bees.
Cold calleth the spirits to succour, and therefore they cannot so well close and go together in the head, which is ever requisite to sleep. And for the same cause, pain and noise hinder sleep; and darkness furthereth sleep.
A merchant died that was very far in debt; his goods and household stuff were set forth to sale; a stranger would needs buy a pillow there, saying, This pillow sure is good to sleep on, since he could sleep on it that owed so many debts.
All objects of the senses which are very offensive do cause the spirits to retire; and upon their flight the parts are in some degree destitute, and so there is induced in them a trepidation and horror.
It is a great error, and a narrowness of mind, to think that nations have nothing to do one with another except there be either an union in sovereignty, or a conjunction in pacts or leagues: there are other hands of society and implicit confederations.
Superstition without a veil is a deformed thing: there is also a superstition in avoiding superstition, when men think they do best if they go farthest from the superstition; by which means they often take away the good as well as the bad.
There was a soldier that vaunted before Julius Cæsar of the hurts he had received in his face. Cæsar, knowing him to be but a coward, told him, You were best take heed, next time you run away, how you look back.
Socrates was pronounced by the oracle of Delphos to be the wisest man of Greece, which he would turn from himself ironically, saying, There could be nothing in him to verify the oracle, except this, that he was not wise, and knew it; and others were not wise, and knew it not.
Put a case of a land of Amazons, where the whole government, public and private, is in the hands of women: is not such a preposterous government against the first order of nature, for women to rule over men, and in itself void?
There have been used, either barbarous words, of no sense, lest they should disturb the imagination; or words of similitude, that they may second and feed the imagination: and this was ever in heathen charms, as in charms of later times.
The poets make fame a monster: they describe her in part finely and elegantly, and in part gravely and sententiously: they say, Look how many feathers she hath! so many eyes she hath underneath! so many tongues! so many voices! she pricks up so many ears!
This is a flourish: there follow excellent parables: as that she gathereth strength in going; that she goeth upon the ground, and yet hideth her head in the clouds; that in the daytime she sitteth in a watch-tower, and flieth most by night; that she mingleth things done with things not done; and that she is a terror to great cities.
As concerning Divine Philosophy, or Natural Theology, it is that knowledge or rudiment of knowledge concerning God which may be obtained by the contemplation of his creatures; which knowledge may be truly termed divine in respect of the object, and natural in respect of the light. The bounds of this knowledge are, that it sufficeth to convince atheism, but not to inform religion.
Histories do rather set forth the pomp of business than the true and inward resorts thereof. But Lives, if they be well written, propounding to themselves a person to represent, in whom actions both greater and smaller, public and private, have a commixture, must of necessity contain a more true, native, and lively representation.
The mistaking or misplacing of the last or farthest end of knowledge is the greatest error of all the rest: For men have entered into a desire of learning and knowledge, sometimes upon a natural curiosity, and inquisitive appetite; sometimes to entertain their minds with variety and delight; sometimes for ornament and reputation; and sometimes to enable them to obtain the victory of wit and contradiction; and most times for lucre and profession;but seldom sincerely to give a true account of their gift of reason, to the benefit and use of men: As if there were sought in knowledge, a couch whereupon to rest a searching and restless spirit; or a terrace for a wandering and variable mind to walk up and down with a fair prospect; or a tower of state for a proud mind to raise itself upon; or a fort or commanding ground for strife and contention; or a shop for profit or sale;and not a rich store-house for the glory of the Creator, and the relief of mans estate.
Poetry, especially heroical, seems to be raised altogether from a noble foundation, which makes much for the dignity of mans nature. For, seeing this sensible world is in dignity inferior to the soul of man, poesy seems to endow human nature with that which history denies; and to give satisfaction to the mind with at least the shadow of things, where the substance cannot be had. For if the matter be thoroughly considered, a strong argument may be drawn from poesy, that a more stately greatness of things, a more perfect order, and a more beautiful variety, delights the soul of man, than any way can be found in nature since the fall. Wherefore, seeing the acts and events, which are the subjects of true history, are not of that amplitude as to content the mind of man; poesy is ready at hand to feign acts more heroical. Because true history reports the successes of business not proportionable to the merit of virtues and vices, poetry corrects it, and presents events and fortunes according to desert, and according to the law of Providence: because true history through the frequent satiety and similitude of things works a distaste and misprision in the mind of man, poesy cheereth and refresheth the soul, chanting things rare and various, and full of vicissitudes. So as poesy serveth and conferreth to delectation, magnanimity, and morality; and therefore it may seem deservedly to have some participation of divineness, because it doth raise the mind, and exalt the spirit with high raptures, by proportioning the shows of things to the desires of the mind, and not submitting the mind to things, as reason and history do. And by these allurements and congruities, whereby it cherisheth the soul of man, joined also with consort of music, whereby it may more sweetly insinuate itself, it hath won such access, that it hath been in estimation even in rude times and barbarous nations, when other learning stood excluded.
But it is not only the difficulty and labour which men take in finding out the truth; nor, again, that, when it is found, it imposeth upon mens thoughts, that doth bring lies in favour; but a natural, though corrupt, love of the lie itself. One of the later schools of the Grecians examineth the matter, and is at a stand to think what should be in it that men should love lies, where neither they make for pleasure, as with poets, nor for advantage, as with the merchant, but for the lies sake.
There is no vice that doth so cover a man with shame as to be found false and perfidious: and therefore Montaigne saith prettily, when he inquireth the reason why the word of the lie should be such a disgrace, and such an odious charge, If it be well weighed, to say that a man lieth is as much as to say that he is brave towards God, and a coward towards men: for a lie faces God, and shrinks from man.
This same truth is a naked and open daylight, that does not show the masks and mummeries and triumphs of the world, half so stately and daintily as candle-lights. Truth may perhaps come to the price of a pearl that showeth best by day, but it will not rise to the price of a diamond or carbuncle that showeth best in varied lights. A mixture of a lie doth ever add pleasure. Doth any man doubt that if there were taken out of mens minds vain opinions, flattering hopes, false valuations, imaginations as one would, and the like, but it would leave the minds of a number of men poor shrunken things, full of melancholy and indisposition, and unpleasing to themselves?
To pass from theological and philosophical truth to the truth of civil business, it will be acknowledged, even by those who practise it not, that clear and round dealing is the honour of mans nature, and that mixture of falsehood is like alloy in coin of gold and silver, which may make the metal work the better, but it embaseth it: for these winding and crooked courses are the goings of the serpent: which goeth basely upon the belly, and not upon the feet.
Men fear death as children fear to go into the dark; and as that natural fear in children is increased with tales, so is the other. Certainly, the contemplation of death, as the wages of sin, and passage to another world, is holy and religious; but the fear of it, as a tribute due unto nature, is weak.
It is worthy the observing that there is no passion in the mind of man so weak, but it mates and masters the fear of death; and therefore death is no such terrible enemy when a man hath so many attendants about him that can win the combat of him. Revenge triumphs over death; love slights it; honour aspireth to it; grief flieth to it; fear pre-occupateth it; nay, we read, after Otho the emperor had slain himself, pity (which is the tenderest of affections) provoked many to die out of mere compassion to their sovereign, and as the truest sort of followers. Nay, Seneca adds, niceness and satiety.
There be also two false peaces, or unities: the one, when the peace is grounded upon an implicit ignorance; for all colours will agree in the dark: the other, when it is pieced up upon a direct admission of contraries in fundamental points: for truth and falsehood in such things are like the iron and clay in the toes of Nebuchadnezzars image: they may cleave, but they will not incorporate.
Some praises come of good wishes and respects, which is a form due in civility to kings and great persons, laudando præcipere; when by telling men what they are, they represent to them what they should be . Some men are praised maliciously to their hurt, thereby to stir envy and jealousy towards them . Solomon saith, He that praiseth his friend aloud rising early, it shall be to him no better than a curse. Too much magnifying of man or matter doth irritate contradiction, and procure envy and scorn. To praise a mans self cannot be decent, except it be in rare cases; but to praise a mans office or profession, he may do it with good grace, and with a kind of magnanimity . St. Paul, when he boasts of himself, he doth oft interlace, I speak like a fool; but speaking of his calling, he saith, magnificabo apostolatum meum [I will magnify my mission].
Revenge is a kind of wild justice, which the more mans nature runs to, the more ought law to weed it out: for as for the first wrong, it does but offend the law; but the revenge of that wrong putteth the law out of office. Certainly, in taking revenge a man is but even with his enemy, but in passing it over he is superior.
Public revenges are for the most part fortunate; as that for the death of Cæsar; for the death of Pertinax; for the death of Henry the Third of France; and many more. But in private revenges it is not so; nay, rather vindicative persons live the life of witches; who, as they are mischievous, so end they unfortunate.
A man that hath no virtue in himself ever envieth virtue in others; for mens minds will either feed upon their own good or upon others evil; and who wanteth the one will prey upon the other; and whoso is out of hope to attain anothers virtue will seek to come at even hand by depressing anothers fortune.
A man that is busy and inquisitive is commonly envious; for to know much of other mens matters cannot be, because all that ado may concern his own estate; therefore it must needs be that he taketh a kind of play-pleasure in looking upon the fortunes of others; neither can he that mindeth but his own business find much matter for envy; for envy is a gadding passion, and walketh in the streets, and doth not keep home: Non est curiosus, quin idem sit malevolus.
To take advice of some few friends is ever honourable; for lookers-on many times see more than gamesters; and the vale best discovereth the hill. There is little friendship in the world, and least of all between equals, which was wont to be magnified. That that is, is between superior and inferior, whose fortunes may comprehend the one the other.
Read not to contradict and confute, nor to believe and take for granted, nor to find talk and discourse, but to weigh and consider. Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts; others to be read, but not curiously; and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention. Some books also may be read by deputy, and extracts made of them by others; but that would be only in the less important arguments, and the meaner sort of books: else distilled books are like common distilled waters, flashy things.
Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man: and, therefore, if a man write little, he had need have a great memory: if he confer little, he had need have a present wit: and if he read little, he had need have much cunning to seem to know that he doth not.
Histories make men wise; poets, witty; the mathematics, subtile; natural philosophy, deep; moral, grave; logic and rhetoric, able to contend: Abeunt studia in mores; nay, there is no stand or impediment in the wit, but may be wrought out by fit studies: like as diseases of the body may have appropriate exercises: bowling is good for the stone and reins, shooting for the lungs and breast, gentle walking for the stomach, riding for the head, and the like: so, if a mans wit be wandering, let him study the mathematics; for in demonstrations, if his wit be called away never so little he must begin again: if his wit be not apt to distinguish or find differences, let him study the schoolmen, for they are Cymini sectores: if he be not apt to beat over matters, and to call upon one thing to prove and illustrate another, let him study the lawyers cases: so every defect of the mind may have a special receipt.
Studies serve for delight, for ornament, and for ability. Their chief use for delight is in privateness and retiring; for ornament, is in discourse; and for ability, is in the judgment and disposition of business: for expert men can execute, and perhaps judge of particulars, one by one: but the general counsels, and the plots and marshalling of affairs, come best from those who are learned. To spend too much time in studies is sloth; to use them too much for ornament is affectation; to make judgment wholly by their rules is the humour of a scholar: they perfect nature, and are perfected by experience: for natural abilities are like natural plants, that need pruning by study; and studies themselves do give forth directions too much at large, except they be bounded in by experience.
When factions are carried too high and too violently, it is a sign of weakness in princes, and much to the prejudice both of their authority and business. The motions of factions under kings ought to be like the motions (as the astronomers speak) of the inferior orbs, which may have their proper motions, but yet still are quietly carried by the higher motion of primum mobile.
Kings had need beware how they side themselves, and make themselves as of a faction or party; for leagues within the state are ever pernicious to monarchies; for they raise an obligation paramount to obligation of sovereignty, and make the king tanquam unus ex nobis, as was to be seen in the league of France.
Some mens behaviour is like a verse, wherein every syllable is measured: how can a man comprehend great matters that breaketh his mind too much to small observations? Not to use ceremonies at all is to teach others not to use them again; and so diminisheth respect to himself: especially they be not to be omitted to strangers and formal natures: but the dwelling upon them, and exalting them above the moon, is not only tedious, but doth diminish the faith and credit of him that speaks: and, certainly, there is a kind of conveying of effectual passages amongst compliments, which is of singular use, if a man can hit upon it. Amongst a mans peers a man shall be sure of familiarity; and therefore it is good a little to keep state: amongst a mans inferiors one shall be sure of reverence; and therefore it is good a little to be familiar. He that is too much in anything, so that he giveth another occasion of society, maketh himself cheap.
Francis Bacon: Essay LIII., Of Ceremonies and Respects.
Men had need beware how they be too perfect in compliments; for be they never so sufficient otherwise, their enemies will be sure to give them that attribute to the disadvantage of their greater virtues. It is loss also in business to be too full of respects, or to be too curious in observing times and opportunities. Solomon saith, He that considereth the wind shall not sow, and he that looketh to the clouds shall not reap. A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds. Mens behaviour should be like their apparel, not too strait or point-device, but free for exercise or motion.
Francis Bacon: Essay LIII., Of Ceremonies and Respects.
There be so many false points of praise that a man may justly hold it a suspect. Some praises proceed merely of flattery; and if he be an ordinary flatterer, he will have certain common attributes, which may serve every man: if he be a cunning flatterer, he will follow the arch-flatterer, which is a mans self, and wherein a man thinketh best of himself therein the flatterer will uphold him most: but if he be an impudent flatterer, look wherein a man is conscious to himself that he is most defective, and is most out of countenance in himself, that will the flatterer entitle him to perforce, spreta conscientia.
Certainly fame is like a river that beareth up things light and swollen and drowns things weighty and solid; but if persons of quality and judgment concur, then it is (as the Scripture saith) Nomen bonum instar unguenti fragrantis; it filleth all round about, and will not easily away: for the odours of ointments are more durable than those of flowers.
Praise is the reflection of virtue, but it is as the glass or body, which giveth the reflection: if it be from the common people, it is commonly false and nought, and rather followeth vain persons than virtuous: for the common people understand not many excellent virtues: the lowest virtues draw praise from them, the middle virtues work in them astonishment or admiration; but of the highest virtues they have no sense or perceiving at all; but shows and species virtutibus similes [qualities resembling virtues] serve best with them.
For the conduct of war: at the first, men rested extremely upon number; they did put the wars likewise upon main force and valour, pointing days for pitched fields, and so trying it out upon an even match; and they were more ignorant in ranging and arraying their battles. After they grew to rest upon number, rather competent than vast; they grew to advantage of place, cunning diversions, and the like; and they grew more skilful in the ordering of their battles.
Francis Bacon: Essay LIX., Of Vicissitude of Things.
In the youth of a state, arms do flourish; in the middle age of a state, learning; and then both of them together for a time; in the declining age of a state, mechanical arts and merchandise. Learning hath its infancy, when it is but beginning, and almost childish; then its youth, when it is luxuriant and juvenile; then its strength of years, when it is solid and reduced; and, lastly, its old age, when it waxeth dry and exhaust.
Francis Bacon: Essay LIX., Of Vicissitudes of Things.
The winning of honour is but the revealing of a mans virtue and worth without disadvantage; for some in their actions do woo and affect honour and reputation; which sort of men are commonly much talked of, but inwardly little admired: and some, contrariwise, darken their virtue in the show of it; so as they be undervalued in opinion. If a man perform that which hath not been attempted before, or attempted and given over, or hath been achieved, but not with so good circumstance, he shall purchase more honour than by affecting a matter of greater difficulty, or virtue, wherein he is but a follower. If a man so temper his actions as in some one of them he doth content every faction or combination of people, the music will be the fuller. A man is an ill husband of his honour that entereth into any action the failing wherein may disgrace him more than the carrying of it through can honour him. Honour that is gained and broken upon another hath the quickest reflection, like diamonds cut with facets; and, therefore, let a man contend to excel any competitors of his in honour, in outshooting them, if he can, in their own bow. Discreet followers and servants help much to reputation: Omnis fama a domesticis emanat.
Francis Bacon: Essay LV., Of Honour and Reputation.
Socrates, Aristotle, Galen, were men full of ostentation: certainly, vainglory helpeth to perpetuate a mans memory; and virtue was never so beholden to human nature, as it received its due at the second hand. Neither had the fame of Cicero, Seneca, Plinius Secundus, borne her age so well if it had not been joined with some vanity in themselves; like unto varnish, that makes ceilings not only shine, but last . Glorious men are the scorn of wise men, the admiration of fools, the idols of parasites, and the slaves of their own vaunts.
Secondly for the advocates and counsel that plead. Patience and gravity of bearing is an essential part of justice; and an over-speaking judge is no well-tuned cymbal . Let not the Counsel at the bar chop with the judge certain persons that are sowers of suits, which make the court swell and the country pine.
Judges ought to remember that their office is jus dicere, and not jus dare; to interpret law, and not to make law, or give law; else will it be like the authority claimed by the Church of Rome, which, under precept of exposition of Scripture, doth not stick to add and alter; and to pronounce that which they do not find, and by show of antiquity to introduce novelty. Judges ought to be more learned than witty, more reverend than plausible, and more advised than confident. Above all things, integrity is their portion and proper virtue . The principal duty of a judge is to suppress force and fraud; whereof force is the more pernicious when it is open, and fraud when it is close and disguised. Add thereto contentious suits, which ought to be spewed out, as the surfeit of courts . In causes of life and death judges ought (as far as the law permitteth) in justice to remember mercy, and to cast a severe eye upon the example, but a merciful eye upon the person . Patience and gravity of hearing is an essential part of justice: and an overspeaking judge is no well-tuned cymbal. It is no grace to a judge first to find that which he might have heard in due time from the bar; or to show quickness of conceit in cutting off evidence or counsel too short, or to prevent information by questions, though pertinent. The parts of a judge in hearing are four: to direct the evidence; to moderate length, repetition, or impertinency of speech: to recapitulate, select, and collate the material points of that which hath been said; and to give the rule or sentence. Whatsoever is above these is too much, and proceedeth either of glory and willingness to speak, or of impatience to hear, or of shortness of memory, or of want of a stayed and equal attention . There is due from the judge to the advocate some commendation and gracing, where causes are well handled and fair pleaded, especially towards the side which obtaineth not; for that upholds in the client the reputation of his counsel, and beats down in him the conceit of his cause. There is likewise due to the public a civil reprehension of advocates where there appeareth cunning counsel, gross neglect, slight information, indiscreet pressing, or an over-bold defence.
It is a strange thing to see that the boldness of advocates should prevail with judges; whereas they should imitate God, in whose seat they sit, who represseth the presumptuous, and giveth grace to the modest: but it is more strange that judges should have noted favourites, which cannot but cause multiplication of fees, and suspicion of by-ways.
Let not judges also be so ignorant of their own right as to think there is not left to them, as a principal part of their office, a wise use and application of laws; for they may remember what the apostle saith of a greater law than theirs: Nos scimus quia lex bona est, modo quis eâ utatur legitime.
There is no other way but to meditate and ruminate well upon the effects of anger,how it troubles mans life; and the best time to do this is to look back upon anger when the fit is thoroughly over. Seneca saith well, that anger is like rain, which breaks itself upon that it falls. The Scripture exhorteth us to possess our souls in patience: whosoever is out of patience is out of possession of his soul . Anger is certainly a kind of baseness; as it appears well in the weakness of those subjects in whom it reigns,children, women, old folks, sick folks. Only men must beware that they carry their anger rather with scorn than with fear; so that they may seem rather to be above the injury than below it; which is a thing easily done, if a man will give law to himself in it . To contain anger from mischief, though it take hold of a man, there be two things whereof you must have special caution: the one of extreme bitterness of words, especially if they be aculeate and proper; for communia maledicta are nothing so much; and again, that in anger a man reveal no secrets; for that makes him not fit for society: the other, that you do not peremptorily break off in any business in a fit of anger; but howsoever you show bitterness, do not act anything that is not revocable.
Prosperity is the blessing of the Old Testament, adversity is the blessing of the New, which carrieth the greater benediction, and the clearer revelation of Gods favour. Yet even in the Old Testament, if you listen to Davids harp, you shall hear as many hearse-like airs as carols; and the pencil of the Holy Ghost hath laboured more in describing the afflictions of Job than the felicities of Solomon. Prosperity is not without many fears and distastes; and adversity is not without comforts and hopes. We see in needleworks and embroideries it is more pleasing to have a lively work upon a sad and solemn ground than to have a dark and melancholy work upon a lightsome ground: judge, therefore, of the pleasure of the heart by the pleasure of the eye. Certainly virtue is like precious odours, most fragrant where they are incensed, or crushed; for prosperity doth best discover vice, but adversity doth best discover virtue.
Dissimulation is but a faint kind of policy, or wisdom; for it asketh a strong wit and a strong heart to know when to tell truth, and to do it: therefore it is the weaker sort of politicians that are the greatest dissemblers.
Francis Bacon: Essay VI., Of Simulation and Dissimulation.
They that are the first raisers of their houses are most indulgent towards their children, beholding them as the continuances, not only of their kind, but of their work; and so both children and creatures.
Francis Bacon: Essay VII., Of Parents and Children.
The joys of parents are secret, and so are their griefs and fears; they cannot utter the one, nor they will not utter the other. Children sweeten labours, but they make misfortunes more bitter; increase the cares of life, but they mitigate the remembrance of death.
Francis Bacon: Essay VII., Of Parents and Children.
The illiberality of parents, in allowances towards their children, is a harmful error, and makes them base; acquaints them with shifts; makes them sort with mean company; and makes them surfeit more when they come to plenty; and therefore the proof is best when men keep their authority towards their children, but not their purse.
Francis Bacon: Essay VII., Of Parents and Children.
Let parents choose between the vocations and courses they mean their children should take, for then they are most flexible; and let them not too much apply themselves to the disposition of their children, as thinking they will take best to that which they have most mind to. It is true, that if the affection, or aptness, of the children be extraordinary, then it is good not to cross it; but generally the precept is good, Optimum elige, suave et facile illud faciet consuetudo.
Francis Bacon: Essay VII., Of Parents and Children.
Certainly wife and children are a kind of discipline of humanity; and single men, though they may be many times more charitable, because their means are less exhaust, yet, on the other side, they are more cruel and hard-hearted (good to make severe inquisitors), because their tenderness is not so oft called upon.
Francis Bacon: Essay VIII,, Of Married and Single Life.
He that hath wife and children hath given hostages to fortune; for they are impediments to great enterprises, either of virtue or mischief. Certainly the best works and of greatest merit for the public have proceeded from the unmarried or childless men, which, both in affection and means, have married and endowed the public. Yet it were great reason that those that have children should have greatest care of future times, unto which they know they must transmit their dearest pledges.
Francis Bacon: Essay VIII., Of Marriage and Single Life.
He that hath wife and children hath given hostages to fortune; for they are impediments to great enterprises, either of virtue or mischief . Certainly wife and children are a kind of discipline of humanity.
Francis Bacon: Essay VIII., Of Marriage and Single Life.
It is one of the best bonds, both of obedience and chastity in the wife, if she thinks her husband wise, which she will never do if she find him jealous. Wives are young mens mistresses, companions for middle age, and old mens nurses: so a man may have a quarrel to marry when he will: but yet he was reputed one of the wise men that made answer to the question, When a man should marryA young man not yet, an elder man not at all. [Thales.] It is often seen that bad husbands have very good wives; whether it be that it raiseth the price of their husbands kindness when it comes, or that the wives take a pride in their patience; but this never fails, if the bad husbands were of their own choosing, against their friends consent: for then they will be sure to make good their own folly.
Francis Bacon: Essay VIII., Of Marriage and Single Life.
The most ordinary cause of a single life is liberty, especially in certain self-pleasing and humourous minds, which are so sensible of every restraint as they will go near to think their girdles and garters to be bonds and shackles.
Francis Bacon: Essay VIII., Of Married and Single Life.
Unmarried men are best friends, best masters, best servants, but not always best subjects, for they are light to run away, and almost all fugitives are of that condition. A single life doth well for churchmen, for charity will hardly water the ground where it must first fill a pool. It is indifferent for judges and magistrates; for if they be facile and corrupt, you shall have a servant five times worse than a wife.
Francis Bacon: Essay VIII., Of Married and Single Life.
You may observe that amongst all the great and worthy persons (whereof the memory remaineth, either ancient or recent) there is not one that hath been transported to the mad degree of love,which shows that great spirits and great business do keep out this weak passion. You must except, nevertheless, Marcus Antoninus, the half-partner of the empire of Rome, and Appius Claudius, the decemvir and lawgiver .
They do best who, if they cannot but admit love, yet make it keep quarter, and sever it wholly from their serious affairs and actions of life; for if it check once with business it troubleth mens fortunes, and maketh men that they can no ways be true to their own ends.
There is in mans nature a secret inclination and motion towards the love of others, which, if it be not spent upon one or a few, doth naturally spread itself towards many, and maketh men become humane and charitable.
The vices of authority are chiefly four: delays, corruption, roughness, and facility. For delays give easy access; keep times appointed; go through with that which is in hand, and interlace not business but of necessity. For corruption doth not only bind thine own hands or thy servants from taking, but bind the hands of suitors also from offering: for integrity used doth the one; but integrity professed, and with a manifest detestation of bribery, doth the other; and avoid not only the fault, but the suspicion. Whosoever is found variable, and changeth manifestly without manifest cause, giveth suspicion of corruption: therefore, always, when thou changest thine opinion or course, profess it plainly, and declare it, together with the reasons that move thee to change, and do not think to steal it. A servant or a favourite, if he be inward, and no other apparent cause of esteem, is commonly thought but a by-way to close corruption. For roughness, it is a needless cause of discontent: severity breedeth fear, but roughness breedeth hate. Even reproofs from authority ought to be grave, and not taunting. As for facility, it is worse than bribery; for bribes come but now and then; but if importunity or idle respects lead a man, he shall never be without; as Solomon saith, To respect persons it is not good, for such a man will transgress for a piece of bread.
Power to do good is the true and lawful end of aspiring; for good thoughts, though God accept them, yet towards men are little better than good dreams, except they be put in act; and that cannot be without power and place, as the vantage or commanding ground. Merit and good works is the end of mans motion; and conscience of the same is the accomplishment of Gods rest; for if a man can be partaker of Gods theatre, he shall likewise be partaker of Gods rest.
Men in great place are thrice servants: servants of the sovereign or state, servants of fame, and servants of business; so as they have no freedom, neither in their persons, nor in their actions, nor in their times. It is a strange desire to seek power over others, and to lose power over a mans self.
Nay, retire men cannot when they would, neither will they when it were reason; but are impatient of privateness even in age and sickness, which require the shadow; like old townsmen that will be still sitting at their street door, though thereby they offer age to scorn.
Certainly great persons had need to borrow other mens opinions to think themselves happy; for if they judge by their own feeling, they cannot find it; but if they think with themselves what other men think of them, and that other men would fain be as they are, then they are happy, as it were, by report, when perhaps they find the contrary within: for they are the first who find their own griefs, though they be the last that find their own faults. Certainly, men in great fortunes are strangers to themselves, and while they are in the puzzle of business they have no time to tend their health either of body or mind.
This is well to be weighed, that boldness is ever blind; for it seeth not dangers and inconveniences: therefore it is ill in council, good in execution; so that the right use of bold persons is, that they never command in chief, but be seconds, and under the direction of others: for in counsel it is good to see dangers, and in execution not to see them, except they be very great.
Question was asked of Demosthenes what was the chief part of an orator? He answered, Action: what next? Action: what next again? Action. He said it that knew it best, and had by nature himself no advantage in that he commended. A strange thing, that that part of an orator which is but superficial, and rather the virtue of a player, should be placed so high above those other noble parts of invention, elocution, and the rest; nay, almost alone, as if it were all in all. But the reason is plain: there is in human nature generally more of the fool than of the wise: and therefore those faculties by which the foolish parts of mens minds is taken, are most potent.
Goodness I call the habit, and goodness of nature the inclination. This, of all virtues and dignities of mind, is the greatest, being the character of the Deity; and without it man is a busy, mischievous, wretched thing,no better than a kind of vermin. Goodness answers to the theological virtue charity, and admits no excess but error. The desire of power in excess caused the angels to fall; the desire of knowledge in excess caused man to fall: but in charity there is no excess, neither can angel or man come in danger by it. The inclination to goodness is imprinted deeply in the nature of man; insomuch that if it issue not towards men, it will take unto other living creatures.
The parts and signs of goodness are many. If a man be gracious and courteous to strangers, it shows he is a citizen of the world, and that his heart is no island cut off from other lands, but a continent that joins to them: if he be compassionate towards the afflictions of others, it shows that his heart is like the noble tree that is wounded itself when it gives the balm: if he easily pardons and remits offences, it shows that his mind is planted above injuries, so that he cannot be shot: if he be thankful for small benefits, it shows that he weighs mens minds, and not their trash: but, above all, if he have St. Pauls perfection, that he would wish to be an anathema from Christ for the salvation of his brethren, it shows much of a divine nature, and a kind of conformity with Christ himself.
He [a king] must have a special care of five things, if he would not have his crown to be but to him unhappy felicity: First, that pretended holiness be not in the church; for that is twofold iniquity: secondly, that useless equity sit not in the chancery; for that is foolish pity: third, that useless iniquity keep not the exchequer; for that is a cruel robbery: fourthly, that faithful rashness be not his general; for that will bring, but too late, repentance: fifthly, that faithless prudence be not his secretary; for that is a snake beneath the green grass.
To conclude: as he is of the greatest power, so he is subject to the greatest cares, made the servant of his people, or else he were without a calling at all. He then that honoureth him not is next an atheist, wanting the fear of God in his heart.
A wise king must do less in altering his laws than he may; for new government is ever dangerous; it being true in the body politic as in the corporal, that omnis subita immutatio est periculosa: and though it be for the better, yet it is not without a fearful apprehension; for he that changeth the fundamental laws of a kingdom thinketh there is no good title to a crown but by conquest.
The things to be seen and observed [in travel] are the courts of princes, especially when they give audience to ambassadors; the courts of justice, while they sit and hear causes; and so of consistories ecclesiastic: the churches and monasteries, with the monuments which are therein extant; the walls and fortifications of cities and towns; and so the havens and harbours, antiquities and ruins, libraries, colleges, disputations, and lectures, where any are; shipping and navies; houses and gardens, of state and pleasure, near great cities; armories, arsenals, magazines, exchanges, burses, warehouses, exercises of horsemanship, fencing, training of soldiers, and the like; comedies, such whereunto the better sort of persons do resort; treasuries of jewels and robes; cabinets and rarities; and to conclude, whatsoever is memorable in the places where they go.
As for the acquaintance which is to be sought in travel, that which is most of all profitable is acquaintance with the secretaries and employed men of ambassadors: for so in travelling in one country he shall suck the experience of many: let him also see and visit eminent persons of all kinds which are of great name abroad, that he may be able to tell how the life agreeth with the fame . When a traveller returneth home, let him not leave the countries where he hath travelled altogether behind him; but maintain a correspondence with letters with those of his acquaintance which are of most worth; and let his travel appear rather in his discourse than in his apparel or gesture; and in his discourse let him be rather advised in his answers, than forward to tell stories: and let it appear that he doth not change his country manners for those of foreign parts; but only prick in some flowers of that he hath learned abroad into the customs of his own country.
Mens thoughts are much according to their inclination; their discourses are speeches according to their learning and infused opinions; but their deeds are after as they have been accustomed: and therefore, as Machiavel well noteth (though in an evil-favoured instance), there is no trusting to the force of nature, nor to the bravery of words, except it be corroborate by custom . Many examples may be put of the force of custom, both upon mind and body: therefore, since custom is the principal magistrate of mans life, let men by all means endeavour to obtain good customs. Certainly, custom is most perfect when it beginneth in young years: this we call education, which is, in effect, but an early custom.
Francis Bacon: Essay XL., Of Custom and Education.
In the discharge of thy place set before thee the best examples; for imitation is a globe of precepts; and after a time set before thee thine own example; and examine thyself strictly whether thou didst not best at first. Neglect not also the examples of those that have carried themselves ill in the same place; not to set off thyself by taxing their memory, but to direct thyself what to avoid.
Fortune is to be honoured and respected, and it be but for her daughters, Confidence and Reputation; for those two felicity breedeth; the first within a mans self, the latter in others towards him. All wise men, to decline the envy of their own virtues, use to ascribe them to Providence and Fortune; for so they may the better assume them: and, besides, it is greatness in a man to be the care of the higher powers.
Young men are fitter to invent than to judge; fitter for execution than for counsel; and fitter for new projects than for settled business: for the experience of age, in things that fall within the compass of it, directeth them: but in new things abuseth them. The errors of young men are the ruin of business; but the errors of aged men amount but to this, that more might have been done, or sooner. Young men, in the conduct and manage of actions, embrace more than they can hold; stir more than they can quiet; fly to the end without consideration of the means and degrees; pursue some few principles which they have chanced upon absurdly; care not to innovate, which draws unknown inconveniences; use extreme remedies at first; and, that which doubleth all errors, will not acknowledge or retract them,like an unready horse, that will neither stop nor turn.
Men of age object too much, consult too long, adventure too little, repent too soon, and seldom drive business home to the full period, but content themselves with a mediocrity of success. Certainly it is good to compound employments of both; for that will be good for the present, because the virtues of either age may correct the defects of both; and good for succession, that young men may be learners, while men in age are actors; and, lastly, good for external accidents, because authority followeth old men, and favour and popularity youth: but for the moral part, perhaps, youth will have the pre-eminence, as age hath for the politic.
In beauty, that of favour is more than that of colour; and that of decent and gracious motion more than that of favour. That is the best part of beauty which a picture cannot express; no, nor the first sight of the life. There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion.
A man shall see faces that, if you examine them part by part, you shall find never a good; and yet altogether do well. If it be true that the principal part of beauty is in decent motion, certainly it is no marvel though persons in years seem many times more amiable: pulchorum autumnus pulcher; for no youth can be comely but by pardon, and considering the youth as to make up the comeliness. Beauty is as summer fruits, which are easy to corrupt, and that cannot last; and for the most part, it makes a dissolute youth, and an age a little out of countenance: but yet certainly again, if it light well, it maketh virtues shine and vices blush.
Virtue is like a rich stone, best plain set; and surely virtue is best in a body that is comely, though not of delicate features; and that hath rather dignity of presence than beauty of aspect: neither is it almost seen that very beautiful persons are otherwise of great virtue; as if nature were rather busy not to err, than in labour to produce excellency; and therefore they prove accomplished, but not of great spirit: and study rather behaviour than virtue. But this holds not always.
God Almighty first planted a garden; and, indeed, it is the purest of human pleasures; it is the greatest refreshment to the spirits of man; without which buildings and palaces are but gross handiworks: and a man shall ever see that when ages grow to civility and elegancy men come to build stately, sooner than to garden finely; as if gardening were the greater perfection. I do hold it, in the royal order of gardens there ought to be gardens for all the months in the year in which, severally, things of beauty may be then in season.
If you would work any man, you must either know his nature or fashions, and so lead him; or his ends, and so persuade him; or his weakness and disadvantages, and so awe him; or those that have interest in him, and so govern him. In dealing with cunning persons we must ever consider their ends to interpret their speeches; and it is good to say little to them, and that which they least look for. In all negotiations of difficulty, a man may not look to sow and reap at once; but must prepare business, and so ripen it by degrees.
A monarchy where there is no nobility at all is ever a pure and absolute tyranny, as that of the Turks; for nobility attempts sovereignty, and draws the eyes of the people somewhat aside from the line royal: but for democracies they need it not; and they are commonly more quiet, and less subject to sedition, than where are stirps of nobles; for mens eyes are upon the business, and not upon the persons; or if upon the persons, it is for the business sake, as fittest, and not for flags and pedigrees.
A great and potent nobility addeth majesty to a monarch, but diminisheth power; and putteth life and spirit into the people, but presseth their fortune. It is well when nobles are not too great for sovereignty nor for justice; and yet maintained in that height as the insolency of inferiors may be broken upon them before it come on too fast upon the majesty of kings. A numerous nobility causeth poverty and inconvenience in a state, for it is a surcharge of expense; and, it being of necessity that many of the nobility fall in time to be weak in fortune, it maketh a kind of disproportion between honour and means.
As for nobility in particular persons: it is a reverend thing to see an ancient castle, or building, not in decay, or to see a fair timber tree sound and perfect; how much more to behold an ancient noble family, which hath stood against the waves and weathers of time? for new nobility is but the act of power, but ancient nobility is the act of time. Those that are first raised to nobility are commonly more virtuous, but less innocent, than their descendants: for there is rarely any rising but by a commixture of good and evil arts: but it is reason the memory of their virtues remain to their posterity, and their faults die with themselves. Nobility of birth commonly abateth industry; and he that is not industrious envieth him that is: besides, noble persons cannot go much higher: and he that standeth at a stay when others rise, can hardly avoid motions of envy. On the other side, nobility extinguished the passive envy from others towards them, because they are in possession of honour. Certainly, kings that have able men of their nobility shall find ease in employing them, and a better slide into their business: for people naturally bend to them as born in some sort to command.
The causes and motives of seditions are, innovation in religion, taxes, alteration in laws and customs, breaking of laws and privileges, general oppression, advancement of unworthy persons, strangers, deaths, disbanded soldiers, factions grown desperate; and whatsoever in offending people joined and knitted them in a common cause.
Francis Bacon: Essay XVI., Of Seditions and Troubles.
The scripture saith, The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God: it is not said, The fool hath thought in his heart; so as he rather saith it by rote to himself, as that he would have, than that he can thoroughly believe it, or be persuaded of it: for none deny there is a God, but those for whom it maketh that there were no God.
They that deny a God destroy a mans nobility; for certainly man is of kin to the beasts by his body; and if he be not of kin to God by his spirit, he is a base and ignoble creature. It destroys, likewise, magnanimity, and the raising human nature.
Man, when he resteth and assureth himself upon divine protection and favour, gathereth a force and faith which human nature in itself could not obtain: therefore, as atheism is in all respects hateful, so in this, that it depriveth human nature of the means to exalt itself above human frailty.
I had rather believe all the fables in the legend, and the Talmud, and the Alcoran, than that this universal frame is without a mind: and therefore God never wrought miracles to convince atheism, because his ordinary works convince it. It is true, that a little philosophy inclineth mans mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth mens minds about to religion: for while the mind of man looketh upon second causes scattered, it may sometimes rest in them, and go no farther; but when it beholdeth the chain of them confederate, and linked together, it must needs fly to providence and Deity.
They that deny a God destroy a mans nobility; for certainly man is of kin to the beasts by his body; and if he be not of kin to God by his spirit, he is a base and ignoble creature. It destroys, likewise, magnanimity, and the raising human nature.
The causes of superstition are pleasing and sensual rites and ceremonies; excess of outward and pharisaical holiness; over-great reverence of traditions, which cannot but load the church; the stratagems of prelates for their own ambition and lucre; the favouring too much of good intentions, which openeth the gate to conceits and novelties; the taking an aim at divine matters by human, which cannot but breed mixture of imaginations; and, lastly, barbarous times, especially joined with calamities and disasters.
We take cunning for a sinister, or crooked, wisdom, and certainly there is a great difference between a cunning man and a wise man, not only in point of honesty, but in point of ability . In things that a man would not be seen in himself, it is a point of cunning to borrow the name of the world; as to say, The world says, or There is a speech abroad. It is a point of cunning to let fall those words in a mans own name which he would have another man learn and use, and thereupon take advantage . It is a good point of cunning for a man to shape the answer he would have in his own words and propositions; for it makes the other party stick the less . But these small wares and petty points of cunning are infinite, and it were a good deed to make the best of them; for that nothing doth more hurt in a state than that cunning men pass for wise.
It is a point of cunning to wait upon him with whom you speak with your eye, as the Jesuits give it in precept: for there be many wise men that have secret hearts and transparent countenances: yet this would be done with a demure abasing of your eye sometimes, as the Jesuits also do use.
Wisdom for a mans self is, in many branches thereof, a depraved thing: it is the wisdom of rats, that will be sure to leave a house some time before it fall: it is the wisdom of the fox, that thrusts out the badger, who digged and made room for him: it is the wisdom of the crocodiles, that shed tears when they would devour.
Francis Bacon: Essay XXIV., Of Wisdom for a Mans Self.
Certainly, if a man will keep but of even hand, his ordinary expenses ought to be but to the half of his receipts; and if he think to wax rich, but to the third part. It is no baseness for the greatest to descend and look into their own estate. Some forbear it, not upon negligence alone, but doubting to bring themselves into melancholy, in respect they shall find it broken: but wounds cannot be cured without searching. He that cannot look into his own estate at all had need both choose well those whom he employeth, and change them often; for new are more timorous and less subtle. He that can look into his estate but seldom, it behoveth him to turn all to certainties. A man had need, if he be plentiful in some kind of expense, to be as saving again in some other: as if he be plentiful in diet, to be saving in apparel; if he be plentiful in the hall, to be saving in the stable and the like: for he that is plentiful in expenses of all kinds will hardly be preserved from decay.
A froward retention of custom is as turbulent a thing as an innovation; and they that reverence too much old times are but a scorn to the new. It were good, therefore, that men in their innovations would follow the example of time itself, which indeed innovateth greatly, but quietly, and by degrees scarce to be perceived.
It were good, therefore, that men in their innovations would follow the example of time itself, which indeed innovateth greatly, but quietly, and by degrees scarce to be perceived: for otherwise whatsoever is new is unlooked for; and ever it mends some and pains others; and he that is holpen takes it for a fortune, and thanks the time; and he that is hurt, for a wrong, and imputeth it to the author.
He that will not apply new remedies must expect new evils; for time is the greatest innovator: and if time of course alter things to the worse, and wisdom and counsel shall not alter them to the better, what shall be the end?
It were good, therefore, that men, in their innovations, would follow the example of time itself, which indeed innovateth greatly, but quietly, and by degrees scarce to be perceived; for otherwise whatsoever is new is unlooked for; and ever it mends some and pains others; and he that is holpen takes it for a fortune, and thanks the time; and he that is hurt, for a wrong, and imputeth it to the author.
Some are so close and reserved as they will not shew their wares but by a dark light, and seem always to keep back somewhat; and when they know within themselves they speak of that they do not well know, would nevertheless seem to others to know of that which they may not well speak.
Such men in all deliberations find ease to be of the negative side, and affect a credit to object and foretell difficulties; for when propositions are denied there is an end of them; but if they be allowed, it requireth a new work: which false point of wisdom is the bane of business.
A man may think, if he will, that two eyes see no more than one; or that a gamester seeth always more than a looker-on; but when all is done, the help of good counsel is that which setteth business strait.
It is a mere and miserable solitude to want true friends, without which the world is but a wilderness; and even in this scene also of solitude, whosoever in the frame of his nature and affections is unfit for friendship, he taketh it of the beast, and not from humanity.
No receipt openeth the heart but a true friend, to whom you may impart griefs, joys, fears, hopes, suspicions, counsels, and whatsoever lieth upon the heart to oppress it, in a kind of civil shrift or confession.
This communicating of a mans self to his friend works two contrary effects, for it redoubleth joys and cutteth griefs in half: for there is no man that imparteth his joys to his friend, but he joyeth the more; and no man that imparteth his griefs to his friend, but he grieveth the less.
Whosoever hath his mind fraught with many thoughts, his wits and understanding do clarify and break up in communicating and discoursing with another: he tosseth his thoughts more easily; he marshalleth them more orderly: he seeth how they look when they are turned into words: finally, he waxeth wiser than himself; and that more by an hours discourse than by a days meditation.
Heraclitus saith well in one of his enigmas, Dry light is ever the best, and certain it is that the light that a man receiveth by counsel from another is drier and purer than that which cometh from his own understanding and judgment; which is ever infused and drenched in his affections and customs. So there is as much difference between the counsel that a friend giveth, and that a man giveth himself, as there is between the counsel of a friend and of a flatterer; for there is no such flatterer as is a mans self, and there is no such remedy against flattery of a mans self as the liberty of a friend.
A man hath a body, and that body is confined to a place; but where friendship is, all offices of life are, as it were, granted to him and his deputy; for he may exercise them by his friend. How many things are there which a man cannot, with any face or comeliness, say or do himself! A man can scarce allege his own merits with modesty, much less extol them; a man cannot sometimes brook to supplicate, or beg, and a number of the like: but all these things are graceful in a friends mouth which are blushing in a mans own.
Counsel is of two sorts; the one concerning manners, the other concerning business: for the first, the best preservative to keep the mind in health is the faithful admonition of a friend. The calling of a mans self to a strict account is a medicine sometimes too piercing and corrosive; reading good books of morality is a little flat and dead; observing our faults in others is sometimes improper for our case; but the best receipt (best, I say, to work and best to take) is the admonition of a friend. It is a strange thing to behold what gross errors and extreme absurdities many (especially of the greater sort) do commit for want of a friend to tell them of them, to the great damage both of their fame and fortune.
The greatness of an estate, in bulk and territory, doth fall under measure; and the greatness of finances and revenue doth fall under computation. The population may appear by musters; and the number and greatness of cities and towns by cards and maps; but yet there is not anything, amongst civil affairs, more subject to error than the right valuation and true judgment concerning the power and forces of an estate . Walled towns, stored arsenals and armouries, goodly races of horses, chariots of war, elephants, ordnance, artillery, and the like, all this is but a sheep in a lions skin, except the breed and disposition of the people be stout and warlike. Nay, number (itself) in armies importeth not much, where the people are of weak courage: for, as Virgil saith, It never troubles the wolf how many the sheep be.
Francis Bacon: Essay XXX., Of the True Greatness of Kingdoms and Estates.
No man can by care-taking (as the Scripture saith) add a cubit to his stature, in this little model of a mans body; but in the great frame of kingdoms and commonwealths it is in the power of princes, or estates, to add amplitude and greatness to their kingdoms; for by introducing such ordinances, constitutions, and customs, as we have now touched, they may sow greatness to their posterity and succession: but these things are commonly not observed, but left to take their chance.
Francis Bacon: Essay XXX., Of the True Greatness of Kingdoms and Estates.
To be free-minded and cheerfully disposed at hours of meat, and of sleep, and of exercise, is one of the best precepts of long lasting. As for the passions and studies of the mind, avoid envy, anxious fears, anger, fretting inwards, subtle and knotty inquisitions, joys and exhilarations in excess, sadness not communicated. Entertain hopes, mirth rather than joy, variety of delights rather than surfeit of them; wonder and admiration, and therefore novelties; studies that fill the mind with splendid and illustrious objects, as histories, fables, and contemplations of nature. If you fly physic in health altogether, it will be too strange for your body when you shall need it: if you make it too familiar, it will work no extraordinary effect when sickness cometh. I commend rather some diet for certain seasons than frequent use of physic, except it be grown into a custom; for those diets alter the body more, and trouble it less.
If you fly physic in health altogether, it will be too strange for your body when you shall need it; if you make it too familiar, it will work no extraordinary effect when sickness cometh. I commend rather some diet for certain seasons, than frequent use of physic, except it be grown into a custom; for those diets alter the body more, and trouble it less.
Physicians are some of them so pleasing and conformable to the humour of the patient, as they press not the true cure of the disease; and some are so regular in proceeding according to art for the disease, as they respect not sufficiently the condition of the patient. Take one of a middle temper; or if it may not be found in one man, combine two of either sort; and forget not to call as well the best acquainted with your body, as the best reported of for his faculty.
Suspicions among faults are like bats among birds,they ever fly by twilight: certainly they are to be repressed, or, at the least, well guarded: for they cloud the mind, they lose friends, and they check with business, whereby business cannot go on currently and constantly: they dispose kings to tyranny, husbands to jealousy, wise men to irresolution and melancholy: they are defects, not in the heart, but in the brain; for they take place in the stoutest natures . There is nothing makes a man suspect much more than to know little: and, therefore, men should remedy suspicion by procuring to know more, and not to keep their suspicions in smother.
Speech of a mans self ought to be seldom, and well chosen. I knew one was wont to say in scorn, He must needs be a wise man, he speaks so much of himself; and there is but one case wherein a man may commend himself with good grace, and that is in commending virtue in another, especially if it be such a virtue whereunto himself pretendeth. Speech of touch towards others should be sparingly used; for discourse ought to be as a field, without coming home to any man.
Some in their discourse desire rather commendation of wit, in being able to hold all arguments, than of judgment, in discerning what is true; as if it were a praise to know what might be said, and not what should be thought. Some have certain common-places and themes, wherein they are good, and want variety; which kind of poverty is for the most part tedious; and, when it is once perceived, ridiculous.
He that questioneth much shall learn much, and content much; but especially if he apply his questions to the skill of the persons whom he asketh; for he shall give them occasion to please themselves in speaking, and himself shall continually gather knowledge: but let his questions not be troublesome, for that is fit for a poser; and let him be sure to leave other men their turns to speak: nay, if there be any that would reign and take up all the time, let him find means to take them off, and to bring others on; as musicians use to do with those that dance too long galliards . Discretion of speech is more than eloquence; and to speak agreeable to him with whom we deal, is more than to speak in good words, or in good order.
He that questioneth much shall learn much, and content much; but especially if he apply his questions to the skill of the persons whom he asketh; for he shall give them occasion to please themselves in speaking, and himself shall continually gather knowledge: but let his questions not be troublesome, for that is fit for a poser; and let him be sure to leave other men their turns to speak.
As for jest, there be certain things which ought to be privileged from it: namely, religion, matters of state, great persons, and mans present business of importance, and any case that deserveth pity: yet there be some that think their wits have been asleep, except they dart out somewhat that is piquant, and to the quick: that is a vein which would be bridled:
And, generally, men ought to find the difference between saltness and bitterness. Certainly, he that hath a satirical vein, as he maketh others afraid of his wit, so he had need be afraid of others memory.
The honourablest part of talk is to give the occasion; and again to moderate and pass to somewhat else, for then a man leads the dance. It is good in discourse, and speech of conversation, to vary and intermingle speech of the present occasion with arguments, tales with reasons, asking of questions with telling of opinions, and jest with earnest: for it is a dull thing to tire, and, as we say now, to jade anything too far.
Discretion of speech is more than eloquence; and to speak agreeable to him with whom we deal, is more than to speak in good words, or in good order. A good continued speech, without a good speech of interlocution, shows slowness; and a good reply, or second speech, without a good settled speech, showeth shallowness and weakness.
Nature is often hidden, sometimes overcome, seldom extinguished. Force maketh nature more violent in the return; doctrine and discourse maketh nature less importune; but custom only doth alter and subdue nature.
The improvement of the ground is the most natural obtaining of riches; for it is our great mothers blessing, the earths; but it is slow; and yet where men of great wealth do stoop to husbandry, it multiplieth riches exceedingly.
I cannot call riches better than the baggage of virtue; the Roman word is better, impedimenta; for as the baggage is to an army, so is riches to virtue: it cannot be spared nor left behind, but it hindereth the march; yea, and the care of it sometimes loseth or disturbeth the victory: of great riches there is no real use, except it be in the distribution: the rest is but conceit; so saith Solomon, Where much is there are many to consume it; and what hath the owner but the sight of it with his eyes? The personal fruition in any man cannot reach to feel great riches: there is a custody of them; or a power of dole and donative of them; or a fame of them; but no solid use to the owner.
It was truly observed by one, That himself came very hardly to a little riches, and very easily to great riches; for when a mans stock is come to that, that he can expect the prime of markets, and overcome those bargains which for their greatness are few mens money, and be partner in the industries of younger men, he cannot but increase mainly.
There are numbers of the like kind: especially if you include dreams and predictions of astrology; but I have set down these few only of certain credit for example. My judgment is, that they ought all to be despised, and ought to serve but for winter talk by the fire-side: though when I say despised, I mean it as for belief; for otherwise, the spreading or publishing of them is in no sort to be despised, for they have done much mischief; and I see many severe laws made to suppress them.
Honour hath three things in it: the vantage ground to do good; the approach to kings and principal persons; and the raising of a mans own fortunes. He that hath the best of these intentions, when he aspireth, is an honest man; and that prince that can discern of these intentions in another that aspireth is a wise prince.
Of ambitions, it is less harmful the ambition to prevail in great things, than that other to appear in everything; for that breeds confusion, and mars business; but yet it is less danger to have an ambitious man stirring in business than great in dependences. He that seeketh to be eminent amongst able men hath a great task; but that is ever good for the public: but he that plots to be the only figure amongst ciphers is the decay of a whole age.
To write just treatises requireth time in the writer and leisure in the reader, which is the cause which hath made me choose to write certain brief notes, set down rather significantly than curiously, which I have called Essays. The word is late, but the thing is ancient.
Knowledge will ever be a wandering and indigested thing if it be but a commixture of a few notions that are at hand and occur, and not excited from a sufficient number of instances, and those well collated.
When children have been exposed, or taken away young, and afterwards have approached to their parents presence, the parents, though they have not known them, have had a secret joy, or other alteration, thereupon.
The eye of the understanding is like the eye of the sense; for as you may see great objects through small crannies or holes, so you may see great axioms of nature through small and contemptible instances.
The delight which men have in popularity, fame, submission, and subjection of other mens minds seemeth to be a thing (in itself without contemplation of consequence) agreeable and grateful to the nature of man.
The road to true philosophy is precisely the same with that which leads to true religion; and from both one and the other, unless we would enter in as little children, we must expect to be totally excluded.
I do find, therefore, in this enchanted glass, four idols, or false appearances, of several distinct sorts, every sort comprehending many divisions. The first sort I call idols of the nation or tribe; the second, idols of the den or cave; the third, idols of the forum; and the fourth, idols of the theatre.
The tenure in chief is the very root that doth maintain this silver stem, that by many rich and fruitful branches spreadeth itself: so if it be suffered to starve, by want of ablaqueation, and other good husbandry, this yearly fruit will much decrease.
For friends, although your lordship be scant, yet I hope you are not altogether destitute; if you be, do but look upon good Books: they are true friends, that will neither flatter nor dissemble: be you but true to yourself, applying that which they teach unto the party grieved, and you shall need no other comfort nor counsel. To them, and to Gods Holy Spirit directing you in the reading them, I commend your lordship.
I hold every man a debtor to his profession; from the which as men of course do seek to receive countenance and profit, so ought they of duty to endeavour themselves, by way of amends, to be a help and ornament thereunto.
Francis Bacon: Upon the Elements and Use of the Common Law, Pref.