Infomotions, Inc.The Essays / Bacon, Francis

Author: Bacon, Francis
Title: The Essays
Publisher: Eris Etext Project
Tag(s): saith; counsel; envy; western philosophy
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                                   THE ESSAYS

                                by Francis Bacon


  What is truth? said jesting Pilate, and would not stay for an
answer. Certainly there be, that delight in giddiness, and count it
a bondage to fix a belief; affecting free-will in thinking, as well as
in acting. And though the sects of philosophers of that kind be
gone, yet there remain certain discoursing wits, which are of the same
veins, though there be not so much blood in them, as was in those of
the ancients. But it is not only the difficulty and labor, which men
take in finding out of truth, nor again, that when it is found, it
imposeth upon men's thoughts, that doth bring lies in favor; but a
natural though corrupt love, of the lie itself. One of the later
school 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 lie's sake. But I cannot tell; this same
truth, is a naked, and open day-light, that doth 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 men's 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

  One of the fathers, in great severity, called poesy vinum
doemonum, because it filleth the imagination; and yet, it is but
with the shadow of a lie. But it is not the lie that passeth through
the mind, but the lie that sinketh in, and settleth in it, that doth
the hurt; such as we spake of before. But, howsoever these things
are thus in men's depraved judgments, and affections, yet truth, which
only doth judge itself, teacheth that the inquiry of truth, which is
the love-making, or wooing of it, the knowledge of truth, which is the
presence of it, and the belief of truth, which is the enjoying of
it, is the sovereign good of human nature. The first creature of
God, in the works of the days, was the light of the sense; the last,
was the light of reason; and his sabbath work ever since, is the
illumination of his Spirit. First he breathed light, upon the face
of the matter or chaos; then he breathed light, into the face of
man; and still he breatheth and inspireth light, into the face of
his chosen. The poet, that beautified the sect, that was otherwise
inferior to the rest, saith yet excellently well: It is a pleasure, to
stand upon the shore, and to see ships tossed upon the sea; a
pleasure, to stand in the window of a castle, and to see a battle, and
the adventures thereof below: but no pleasure is comparable to the
standing upon the vantage ground of truth (a hill not to be commanded,
and where the air is always clear and serene), and to see the
errors, and wanderings, and mists, and tempests, in the vale below; so
always that this prospect be with pity, and not with swelling, or
pride. Certainly, it is heaven upon earth, to have a man's mind move
in charity, rest in providence, and turn upon the poles of truth.

  To pass from theological, and philosophical truth, to the truth of
civil business; it will be acknowledged, even by those that practise
it not, that clear, and round dealing, is the honor of man's nature;
and that mixture of falsehoods, 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.
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 inquired the reason, why the word of the lie should be such
a disgrace, and such an odious charge? Saith he, If it be well
weighed, to say that a man lieth, is as much to say, as that he is
brave towards God, and a coward towards men. For a lie faces God,
and shrinks from man. Surely the wickedness of falsehood, and breach
of faith, cannot possibly be so highly expressed, as in that it
shall be the last peal, to call the judgments of God upon the
generations of men; it being foretold, that when Christ cometh, he
shall not find faith upon the earth.


  Men fear death, as children fear to go in 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. Yet in religious meditations,
there is sometimes mixture of vanity, and of superstition. You shall
read, in some of the friars' books of mortification, that a man should
think with himself, what the pain is, if he have but his finger's
end pressed, or tortured, and thereby imagine, what the pains of death
are, when the whole body is corrupted, and dissolved; when many
times death passeth, with less pain than the torture of a limb; for
the most vital parts, are not the quickest of sense. And by him that
spake only as a philosopher, and natural man, it was well said,
Pompa mortis magis terret, quam mors ipsa. Groans, and convulsions,
and a discolored face, and friends weeping, and blacks, and obsequies,
and the like, show death terrible. 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; honor
aspireth to it; grief flieth to it; fear preoccupateth 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: Cogita quamdiu eadem feceris;
mori velle, non tantum fortis aut miser, sed etiam fastidiosus potest.
A man would die, though he were neither valiant, nor miserable, only
upon a weariness to do the same thing so oft, over and over. It is
no less worthy, to observe, how little alteration in good spirits, the
approaches of death make; for they appear to be the same men, till the
last instant. Augustus Caesar died in a compliment; Livia, conjugii
nostri memor, vive et vale. Tiberius in dissimulation; as Tacitus
saith of him, Jam Tiberium vires et corpus, non dissimulatio,
deserebant. Vespasian in a jest, sitting upon the stool; Ut puto
deus fio. Galba with a sentence; Feri, si ex re sit populi Romani;
holding forth his neck. Septimius Severus in despatch; Adeste si
quid mihi restat agendum. And the like. Certainly the Stoics
bestowed too much cost upon death, and by their great preparations,
made it appear more fearful. Better saith he qui finem vitae
extremum inter munera ponat naturae. It is as natural to die, as to be
born; and to a little infant, perhaps, the one is as painful, as the
other. He that dies in an earnest pursuit, is like one that is wounded
in hot blood; who, for the time, scarce feels the hurt; and
therefore a mind fixed, and bent upon somewhat that is good, doth
avert the dolors of death. But, above all, believe it, the sweetest
canticle is, Nunc dimittis; when a man hath obtained worthy ends,
and expectations. Death hath this also; that it openeth the gate to
good fame, and extinguisheth envy. -Extinctus amabitur idem.


  Religion being the chief band of human society, is a happy thing,
when itself is well contained within the true band of unity. The
quarrels, and divisions about religion, were evils unknown to the
heathen. The reason was, because the religion of the heathen,
consisted rather in rites and ceremonies, than in any constant belief.
For you may imagine, what kind of faith theirs was, when the chief
doctors, and fathers of their church, were the poets. But the true God
hath this attribute, that he is a jealous God; and therefore, his
worship and religion, will endure no mixture, nor partner. We shall
therefore speak a few words, concerning the unity of the church;
what are the fruits thereof; what the bounds; and what the means.

  The fruits of unity (next unto the well pleasing of God, which is
all in all) are two: the one, towards those that are without the
church, the other, towards those that are within. For the former; it
is certain, that heresies, and schisms, are of all others the greatest
scandals; yea, more than corruption of manners. For as in the
natural body, a wound, or solution of continuity, is worse than a
corrupt humor; so in the spiritual. So that nothing, doth so much keep
men out of the church and drive men out of the church, as breach of
unity. And therefore, whensoever it cometh to that pass, that one
saith, Ecce in deserto, another saith, Ecce in penetralibus; that
is, when some men seek Christ, in the conventicles of heretics, and
others, in an outward face of a church, that voice had need
continually to sound in men's ears, Nolite exire, -Go not out. The
doctor of the Gentiles (the propriety of whose vocation, drew him to
have a special care of those without) saith, if an heathen come in,
and hear you speak with several tongues, will he not say that you
are mad? And certainly it is little better, when atheists, and profane
persons, do hear of so many discordant, and contrary opinions in
religion; it doth avert them from the church, and maketh them, to
sit down in the chair of the scorners. It is but a light thing, to
be vouched in so serious a matter, but yet it expresseth well the
deformity. There is a master of scoffing, that in his catalogue of
books of a feigned library, sets down this title of a book, The
Morris-Dance of Heretics. For indeed, every sect of them, hath a
diverse posture, or cringe by themselves, which cannot but move
derision in worldlings, and depraved politics, who are apt to
contemn holy things.

  As for the fruit towards those that are within; it is peace; which
containeth infinite blessings. It establisheth faith; it kindleth
charity; the outward peace of the church, distilleth into peace of
conscience; and it turneth the labors of writing, and reading of
controversies, into treaties of mortification and devotion.

  Concerning the bounds of unity; the true placing of them,
importeth exceedingly. There appear to be two extremes. For to certain
zealants, all speech of pacification is odious. Is it peace, Jehu?
What hast thou to do with peace? turn thee behind me. Peace is not the
matter, but following, and party. Contrariwise, certain Laodiceans,
and lukewarm persons, think they may accommodate points of religion,
by middle way, and taking part of both, and witty reconcilements; as
if they would make an arbitrament between God and man. Both these
extremes are to be avoided; which will be done, if the league of
Christians, penned by our Savior himself, were in two cross clauses
thereof, soundly and plainly expounded: He that is not with us, is
against us; and again, He that is not against us, is with us; that is,
if the points fundamental and of substance in religion, were truly
discerned and distinguished, from points not merely of faith, but of
opinion, order, or good intention. This is a thing may seem to many
a matter trivial, and done already. But if it were done less
partially, it would be embraced more generally.

  Of this I may give only this advice, according to my small model.
Men ought to take heed, of rending God's church, by two kinds of
controversies. The one is, when the matter of the point
controverted, is too small and light, not worth the heat and strife
about it, kindled only by contradiction. For, as it is noted, by one
of the fathers, Christ's coat indeed had no seam, but the church's
vesture was of divers colors; whereupon he saith, In veste varietas
sit, scissura non sit; they be two things, unity and uniformity. The
other is, when the matter of the point controverted, is great, but
it is driven to an over-great subtilty, and obscurity; so that it
becometh a thing rather ingenious, than substantial. A man that is
of judgment and understanding, shall sometimes hear ignorant men
differ, and know well within himself, that those which so differ, mean
one thing, and yet they themselves would never agree. And if it come
so to pass, in that distance of judgment, which is between man and
man, shall we not think that God above, that knows the heart, doth not
discern that frail men, in some of their contradictions, intend the
same thing; and accepteth of both? The nature of such controversies is
excellently expressed, by St. Paul, in the warning and precept, that
he giveth concerning the same, Devita profanas vocum novitates, et
oppositiones falsi nominis scientiae. Men create oppositions, which
are not; and put them into new terms, so fixed, as whereas the meaning
ought to govern the term, the term in effect governeth the meaning.
There be also two false peaces, or unities: the one, when the peace is
grounded, but upon an implicit ignorance; for all colors 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 Nebuchadnezzar's
image; they may cleave, but they will not incorporate.

  Concerning the means of procuring unity; men must beware, that in
the procuring, or muniting, of religious unity, they do not dissolve
and deface the laws of charity, and of human society. There be two
swords amongst Christians, the spiritual and temporal; and both have
their due office and place, in the maintenance of religion. But we may
not take up the third sword, which is Mahomet's sword, or like unto
it; that is, to propagate religion by wars, or by sanguinary
persecutions to force consciences; except it be in cases of overt
scandal, blasphemy, or intermixture of practice against the state;
much less to nourish seditions; to authorize conspiracies and
rebellions; to put the sword into the people's hands; and the like;
tending to the subversion of all government, which is the ordinance of
God. For this is but to dash the first table against the second; and
so to consider men as Christians, as we forget that they are men.
Lucretius the poet, when he beheld the act of Agamemnon, that could
endure the sacrificing of his own daughter, exclaimed: Tantum
Religio potuit suadere malorum.

  What would he have said, if he had known of the massacre in
France, or the powder treason of England? He would have been seven
times more Epicure, and atheist, than he was. For as the temporal
sword is to be drawn with great circumspection in cases of religion;
so it is a thing monstrous, to put it into the hands of the common
people. Let that be left unto the Anabaptists, and other furies. It
was great blasphemy, when the devil said, I will ascend, and be like
the highest; but it is greater blasphemy, to personate God, and
bring him in saying, I will descend, and be like the prince of
darkness; and what is it better, to make the cause of religion to
descend, to the cruel and execrable actions of murthering princes,
butchery of people, and subversion of states and governments? Surely
this is to bring down the Holy Ghost, instead of the likeness of a
dove, in the shape of a vulture or raven; and set, out of the bark
of a Christian church, a flag of a bark of pirates, and assassins.
Therefore it is most necessary, that the church, by doctrine and
decree, princes by their sword, and all learnings, both Christian
and moral, as by their Mercury rod, do damn and send to hell for ever,
those facts and opinions tending to the support of the same; as hath
been already in good part done. Surely in counsels concerning
religion, that counsel of the apostle would be prefixed, Ira hominis
non implet justitiam Dei. And it was a notable observation of a wise
father, and no less ingenuously confessed; that those which held and
persuaded pressure of consciences, were commonly interested therein,
themselves, for their own ends.


  Revenge is a kind of wild justice; which the more man's nature
runs to, the more ought law to weed it out. For as for the first
wrong, it doth 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;
for it is a prince's part to pardon. And Solomon, I am sure, saith, It
is the glory of a man, to pass by an offence. That which is past is
gone, and irrevocable; and wise men have enough to do, with things
present and to come; therefore they do but trifle with themselves,
that labor in past matters. There is no man doth a wrong, for the
wrong's sake; but thereby to purchase himself profit, or pleasure,
or honor, or the like. Therefore why should I be angry with a man, for
loving himself better than me? And if any man should do wrong,
merely out of ill-nature, why, yet it is but like the thorn or
briar, which prick and scratch, because they can do no other. The most
tolerable sort of revenge, is for those wrongs which there is no law
to remedy; but then let a man take heed, the revenge be such as
there is no law to punish; else a man's enemy is still before hand,
and it is two for one. Some, when they take revenge, are desirous, the
party should know, whence it cometh. This is the more generous. For
the delight seemeth to be, not so much in doing the hurt, as in making
the party repent. But base and crafty cowards, are like the arrow that
flieth in the dark. Cosmus, duke of Florence, had a desperate saying
against perfidious or neglecting friends, as if those wrongs were
unpardonable; You shall read (saith he) that we are commanded to
forgive our enemies; but you never read, that we are commanded to
forgive our friends. But yet the spirit of Job was in a better tune:
Shall we (saith he) take good at God's hands, and not be content to
take evil also? And so of friends in a proportion. This is certain,
that a man that studieth revenge, keeps his own wounds green, which
otherwise would heal, and do well. Public revenges are for the most
part fortunate; as that for the death of Caesar; 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, vindictive
persons live the life of witches; who, as they are mischievous, so end
they infortunate.


  It was an high speech of Seneca (after the manner of the Stoics),
that the good things, which belong to prosperity, are to be wished;
but the good things, that belong to adversity, are to be admired. Bona
rerum secundarum optabilia; adversarum mirabilia. Certainly if
miracles be the command over nature, they appear most in adversity. It
is yet a higher speech of his, than the other (much too high for a
heathen), It is true greatness, to have in one the frailty of a man,
and the security of a God. Vere magnum habere fragilitatem hominis,
securitatem Dei. This would have done better in poesy, where
transcendences are more allowed. And the poets indeed have been busy
with it; for it is in effect the thing, which figured in that
strange fiction of the ancient poets, which seemeth not to be
without mystery; nay, and to have some approach to the state of a
Christian; that Hercules, when he went to unbind Prometheus (by whom
human nature is represented), sailed the length of the great ocean, in
an earthen pot or pitcher; lively describing Christian resolution,
that saileth in the frail bark of the flesh, through the waves of
the world. But to speak in a mean. The virtue of prosperity, is
temperance; the virtue of adversity, is fortitude; which in morals
is the more heroical virtue. 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 God's favor. Yet
even in the Old Testament, if you listen to David's harp, you shall
hear as many hearse-like airs as carols; and the pencil of the Holy
Ghost hath labored 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 needle-works 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 odors, most fragrant when 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 politics, that are
the great dissemblers.

  Tacitus saith, Livia sorted well with the arts of her husband, and
dissimulation of her son; attributing arts or policy to Augustus,
and dissimulation to Tiberius. And again, when Mucianus encourageth
Vespasian, to take arms against Vitellius, he saith, We rise not
against the piercing judgment of Augustus, nor the extreme caution
or closeness of Tiberius. These properties, of arts or policy, and
dissimulation or closeness, are indeed habits and faculties several,
and to be distinguished. For if a man have that penetration of
judgment, as he can discern what things are to be laid open, and
what to be secreted, and what to be showed at half lights, and to whom
and when (which indeed are arts of state, and arts of life, as Tacitus
well calleth them), to him, a habit of dissimulation is a hinderance
and a poorness. But if a man cannot obtain to that judgment, then it
is left to him generally, to be close, and a dissembler. For where a
man cannot choose, or vary in particulars, there it is good to take
the safest, and wariest way, in general; like the going softly, by one
that cannot well see. Certainly the ablest men that ever were, have
had all an openness, and frankness, of dealing; and a name of
certainty and veracity; but then they were like horses well managed;
for they could tell passing well, when to stop or turn; and at such
times, when they thought the case indeed required dissimulation, if
then they used it, it came to pass that the former opinion, spread
abroad, of their good faith and clearness of dealing, made them almost

  There be three degrees of this hiding and veiling of a man's self.
The first, closeness, reservation, and secrecy; when a man leaveth
himself without observation, or without hold to be taken, what he
is. The second, dissimulation, in the negative; when a man lets fall
signs and arguments, that he is not, that he is. And the third,
simulation, in the affirmative; when a man industriously and expressly
feigns and pretends to be, that he is not.

  For the first of these, secrecy; it is indeed the virtue of a
confessor. And assuredly, the secret man heareth many confessions. For
who will open himself, to a blab or a babbler? But if a man be thought
secret, it inviteth discovery; as the more close air sucketh in the
more open; and as in confession, the revealing is not for worldly use,
but for the ease of a man's heart, so secret men come to the knowledge
of many things in that kind; while men rather discharge their minds,
than impart their minds. In few words, mysteries are due to secrecy.
Besides (to say truth) nakedness is uncomely, as well in mind as body;
and it addeth no small reverence, to men's manners and actions, if
they be not altogether open. As for talkers and futile persons, they
are commonly vain and credulous withal. For he that talketh what he
knoweth, will also talk what he knoweth not. Therefore set it down,
that an habit of secrecy, is both politic and moral. And in this part,
it is good that a man's face give his tongue leave to speak. For the
discovery of a man's self, by the tracts of his countenance, is a
great weakness and betraying; by how much it is many times more
marked, and believed, than a man's words.

  For the second, which is dissimulation; it followeth many times upon
secrecy, by a necessity; so that he that will be secret, must be a
dissembler in some degree. For men are too cunning, to suffer a man to
keep an indifferent carriage between both, and to be secret, without
swaying the balance on either side. They will so beset a man with
questions, and draw him on, and pick it out of him, that, without an
absurd silence, he must show an inclination one way; or if he do
not, they will gather as much by his silence, as by his speech. As for
equivocations, or oraculous speeches, they cannot hold out long. So
that no man can be secret, except he give himself a little scope of
dissimulation; which is, as it were, but the skirts or train of

  But for the third degree, which is simulation, and false profession;
that I hold more culpable, and less politic; except it be in great and
rare matters. And therefore a general custom of simulation (which is
this last degree) is a vice, rising either of a natural falseness or
fearfulness, or of a mind that hath some main faults, which because
a man must needs disguise, it maketh him practise simulation in
other things, lest his hand should be out of use.

  The great advantages of simulation and dissimulation are three.
First, to lay asleep opposition, and to surprise. For where a man's
intentions are published, it is an alarum, to call up all that are
against them. The second is, to reserve to a man's self a fair
retreat. For if a man engage himself by a manifest declaration, he
must go through or take a fall. The third is, the better to discover
the mind of another. For to him that opens himself, men will hardly
show themselves adverse; but will fair let him go on, and turn their
freedom of speech, to freedom of thought. And therefore it is a good
shrewd proverb of the Spaniard, Tell a lie and find a troth. As if
there were no way of discovery, but by simulation. There be also three
disadvantages, to set it even. The first, that simulation and
dissimulation commonly carry with them a show of fearfulness, which in
any business, doth spoil the feathers, of round flying up to the mark.
The second, that it puzzleth and perplexeth the conceits of many, that
perhaps would otherwise co-operate with him; and makes a man walk
almost alone, to his own ends. The third and greatest is, that it
depriveth a man of one of the most principal instruments for action;
which is trust and belief. The best composition and temperature, is to
have openness in fame and opinion; secrecy in habit; dissimulation
in seasonable use; and a power to feign, if there be no remedy.


  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 labors; but they make misfortunes more bitter. They increase
the cares of life; but they mitigate the remembrance of death. The
perpetuity by generation is common to beasts; but memory, merit, and
noble works, are proper to men. And surely 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. They that are the first raisers of their houses,
are most indulgent towards their children; beholding them as the
continuance, not only of their kind, but of their work; and so both
children and creatures.

  The difference in affection, of parents towards their several
children, is many times unequal; and sometimes unworthy; especially in
the mothers; as Solomon saith, A wise son rejoiceth the father, but an
ungracious son shames the mother. A man shall see, where there is a
house full of children, one or two of the eldest respected, and the
youngest made wantons; but in the midst, some that are as it were
forgotten, who many times, nevertheless, prove the best. The
illiberality of parents, in allowance towards their children, is an
harmful error; 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 the children, but not their purse. Men have a
foolish manner (both parents and schoolmasters and servants) in
creating and breeding an emulation between brothers, during childhood,
which many times sorteth to discord when they are men, and
disturbeth families. The Italians make little difference between
children, and nephews or near kinsfolks; but so they be of the lump,
they care not though they pass not through their own body. And, to say
truth, in nature it is much a like matter; insomuch that we see a
nephew sometimes resembleth an uncle, or a kinsman, more than his
own parent; as the blood happens. Let parents choose betimes, 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. Younger brothers are commonly
fortunate, but seldom or never where the elder are disinherited.


  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. Some there are, who though they lead a single
life, yet their thoughts do end with themselves, and account future
times impertinences. Nay, there are some other, that account wife
and children, but as bills of charges. Nay more, there are some
foolish rich covetous men that take a pride, in having no children,
because they may be thought so much the richer. For perhaps they
have heard some talk, Such an one is a great rich man, and another
except to it, Yea, but he hath a great charge of children; as if it
were an abatement to his riches. But the most ordinary cause of a
single life, is liberty, especially in certain self-pleasing and
humorous minds, which are so sensible of every restraint, as they will
go near to think their girdles and garters, to be bonds and
shackles. 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
with 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. For soldiers, I find the
generals commonly in their hortatives, put men in mind of their
wives and children; and I think the despising of marriage amongst
the Turks, maketh the vulgar soldier more base. 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
hardhearted (good to make severe inquisitors), because their
tenderness is not so oft called upon. Grave natures, led by custom,
and therefore constant, are commonly loving husbands, as was said of
Ulysses, vetulam suam praetulit immortalitati. Chaste women are
often proud and froward, as presuming upon the merit of their
chastity. It is one of the best bonds, both of chastity and obedience,
in the wife, if she think her husband wise; which she will never do,
if she find him jealous. Wives are young men's mistresses;
companions for middle age; and old men's nurses. So as 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
marry,- A young man not yet, an elder man not at all. It is often seen
that bad husbands, have very good wives; whether it be, that it
raiseth the price of their husband's 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.


  There be none of the affections, which have been noted to
fascinate or bewitch, but love and envy. They both have vehement
wishes; they frame themselves readily into imaginations and
suggestions; and they come easily into the eye, especially upon the
present of the objects; which are the points that conduce to
fascination, if any such thing there be. see likewise, the Scripture
calleth envy an evil eye; and the astrologers, call the evil
influences of the stars, evil aspects; so that still there seemeth
to be acknowledged, in the act of envy, an ejaculation or
irradiation of the eye. Nay, some have been so curious, as to note,
that the times when the stroke or percussion of an envious eye doth
most hurt, are when the party envied is beheld in glory or triumph;
for that sets an edge upon envy: and besides, at such times the
spirits of the person envied, do come forth most into the outward
parts, and so meet the blow.

  But leaving these curiosities (though not unworthy to be thought on,
in fit place), we will handle, what persons are apt to envy others;
what persons are most subject to be envied themselves; and what is the
difference between public and private envy.

  A man that hath no virtue in himself, ever envieth virtue in others.
For men's 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 to another's virtue, will seek to come at
even hand, by depressing another's fortune.

  A man that is busy, and inquisitive, is commonly envious. For to
know much of other men's 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 the streets, and doth
not keep home: Non est curiosus, quin idem sit malevolus.

  Men of noble birth, are noted to be envious towards new men, when
they rise. For the distance is altered, and it is like a deceit of the
eye, that when others come on, they think themselves, go back.

  Deformed persons, and eunuchs, and old men, and bastards, are
envious. For he that cannot possibly mend his own case, will do what
he can, to impair another's; except these defects light upon a very
brave, and heroical nature, which thinketh to make his natural wants
part of his honor; in that it should be said, that an eunuch, or a
lame man, did such great matters; affecting the honor of a miracle; as
it was in Narses the eunuch, and Agesilaus and Tamberlanes, that
were lame men.

  The same is the case of men, that rise after calamities and
misfortunes. For they are as men fallen out with the times; and
think other men's harms, a redemption of their own sufferings.

  They that desire to excel in too many matters, out of levity and
vain glory, are ever envious. For they cannot want work; it being
impossible, but many, in some one of those things, should surpass
them. Which was the character of Adrian the Emperor; that mortally
envied poets, and painters, and artificers, in works wherein he had
a vein to excel.

  Lastly, near kinsfolks, and fellows in office, and those that have
been bred together, are more apt to envy their equals, when they are
raised. For it doth upbraid unto them their own fortunes, and pointeth
at them, and cometh oftener into their remembrance, and incurreth
likewise more into the note of others; and envy ever redoubleth from
speech and fame. Cain's envy was the more vile and malignant,
towards his brother Abel, because when his sacrifice was better
accepted, there was no body to look on. Thus much for those, that
are apt to envy.

  Concerning those that are more or less subject to envy: First,
persons of eminent virtue, when they are advanced, are less envied.
For their fortune seemeth, but due unto them; and no man envieth the
payment of a debt, but rewards and liberality rather. Again, envy is
ever joined with the comparing of a man's self; and where there is
no comparison, no envy; and therefore kings are not envied, but by
kings. Nevertheless it is to be noted, that unworthy persons are
most envied, at their first coming in, and afterwards overcome it
better; whereas contrariwise, persons of worth and merit are most
envied, when their fortune continueth long. For by that time, though
their virtue be the same, yet it hath not the same lustre; for fresh
men grow up that darken it.

  Persons of noble blood, are less envied in their rising. For it
seemeth but right done to their birth. Besides, there seemeth not much
added to their fortune; and envy is as the sunbeams, that beat
hotter upon a bank, or steep rising ground, than upon a flat. And
for the same reason, those that are advanced by degrees, are less
envied than those that are advanced suddenly and per saltum.

  Those that have joined with their honor great travels, cares, or
perils, are less subject to envy. For men think that they earn their
honors hardly, and pity them sometimes; and pity ever healeth envy.
Wherefore you shall observe, that the more deep and sober sort of
politic persons, in their greatness, are ever bemoaning themselves,
what a life they lead; chanting a quanta patimur! Not that they feel
it so, but only to abate the edge of envy. But this is to be
understood, of business that is laid upon men, and not such, as they
call unto themselves. For nothing increaseth envy more, than an
unnecessary and ambitious engrossing of business. And nothing doth
extinguish envy than for a great person to preserve all other inferior
officers, in their full rights and pre-eminences of their places.
For by that means, there be so many screens between him and envy.

  Above all, those are most subject to envy, which carry the greatness
of their fortunes, in an insolent and proud manner; being never
well, but while they are showing how great they are, either by outward
pomp, or by triumphing over all opposition or competition; whereas
wise men will rather do sacrifice to envy, in suffering themselves
sometimes of purpose to be crossed, and overborne in things that do
not much concern them. Notwithstanding, so much is true, that the
carriage of greatness, in a plain and open manner (so it be without
arrogancy and vain glory) doth draw less envy, than if it be in a more
crafty and cunning fashion. For in that course, a man doth but disavow
fortune; and seemeth to be conscious of his own want in worth; and
doth but teach others, to envy him.

  Lastly, to conclude this part; as we said in the beginning, that the
act of envy had somewhat in it of witchcraft, so there is no other
cure of envy, but the cure of witchcraft; and that is to remove the
lot (as they call it) and to lay it upon another. For which purpose,
the wiser sort of great persons, bring in ever upon the stage somebody
upon whom to derive the envy, that would come upon themselves;
sometimes upon ministers and servants; sometimes upon colleagues and
associates; and the like; and for that turn there are never wanting,
some persons of violent and undertaking natures, who, so they may have
power and business, will take it at any cost.

  Now, to speak of public envy. There is yet some good in public envy,
whereas in private, there is none. For public envy, is as an
ostracism, that eclipseth men, when they grow too great. And therefore
it is a bridle also to great ones, to keep them within bounds.

  This envy, being in the Latin word invidia, goeth in the modern
language, by the name of discontentment; of which we shall speak, in
handling sedition. It is a disease, in a state, like to infection. For
as infection spreadeth upon that which is sound, and tainteth it; so
when envy is gotten once into a state, it traduceth even the best
actions thereof, and turneth them into an ill odor. And therefore
there is little won, by intermingling of plausible actions. For that
doth argue but a weakness, and fear of envy, which hurteth so much the
more, as it is likewise usual in infections; which if you fear them,
you call them upon you.

  This public envy, seemeth to beat chiefly upon principal officers or
ministers, rather than upon kings, and estates themselves. But this is
a sure rule, that if the envy upon the minister be great, when the
cause of it in him is small; or if the envy be general, in a manner
upon all the ministers of an estate; then the envy (though hidden)
is truly upon the state itself. And so much of public envy or
discontentment, and the difference thereof from private envy, which
was handled in the first place.

  We will add this in general, touching the affection of envy; that of
all other affections, it is the most importune and continual. For of
other affections, there is occasion given, but now and then; and
therefore it was well said, Invidia festos dies non agit: for it is
ever working upon some or other. And it is also noted, that love and
envy do make a man pine, which other affections do not, because they
are not so continual. It is also the vilest affection, and the most
depraved; for which cause it is the proper attribute of the devil, who
is called, the envious man, that soweth tares amongst the wheat by
night; as it always cometh to pass, that envy worketh subtilly, and in
the dark, and to the prejudice of good things, such as is the wheat.


  The stage is more beholding to love, that the life of man. For as to
the stage, love is ever matter of comedies, and now and then of
tragedies; but in life it doth much mischief; sometimes like a
siren, sometimes like a fury. 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
Antonius, the half partner of the empire of Rome, and Appius Claudius,
the decemvir and lawgiver; whereof the former was indeed a
voluptuous man, and inordinate; but the latter was an austere and wise
man: and therefore it seems (though rarely) that love can find
entrance, not only into an open heart, but also into a heart well
fortified, if watch be not well kept. It is a poor saying of Epicurus,
Satis magnum alter alteri theatrum sumus; as if man, made for the
contemplation of heaven, and all noble objects, should do nothing
but kneel before a little idol and make himself a subject, though
not of the mouth (as beasts are), yet of the eye; which was given
him for higher purposes. It is a strange thing, to note the excess
of this passion, and how it braves the nature, and value of things, by
this; that the speaking in a perpetual hyperbole, is comely in nothing
but in love. Neither is it merely in the phrase; for whereas it hath
been well said, that the arch-flatterer, with whom all the petty
flatterers have intelligence, is a man's self; certainly the lover
is more. For there was never proud man thought so absurdly well of
himself, as the lover doth of the person loved; and therefore it was
well said, That it is impossible to love, and to be wise. Neither doth
this weakness appear to others only, and not to the party loved; but
to the loved most of all, except the love be reciproque. For it is a
true rule, that love is ever rewarded, either with the reciproque,
or with an inward and secret contempt. By how much the more, men ought
to beware of this passion, which loseth not only other things, but
itself! As for the other losses, the poet's relation doth well
figure them: that he that preferred Helena, quitted the gifts of
Juno and Pallas. For whosoever esteemeth too much of amorous
affection, quitteth both riches and wisdom. This passion hath his
floods, in very times of weakness; which are great prosperity, and
great adversity; though this latter hath been less observed: both
which times kindle love, and make it more fervent, and therefore
show it to be the child of folly. They do best, who if they cannot but
admit love, yet make it keep quarters; and sever it wholly from
their serious affairs, and actions, of life; for if it check once with
business, it troubleth men's fortunes, and maketh men, that they can
no ways be true to their own ends. I know not how, but martial men are
given to love: I think, it is but as they are given to wine; for
perils commonly ask to be paid in pleasures. There is in man's nature,
a secret inclination and motion, towards love of others, which if it
be not spent upon some one or a few, doth naturally spread itself
towards many, and maketh men become humane and charitable; as it is
seen sometime in friars. Nuptial love maketh mankind; friendly love
perfecteth it; but wanton love corrupteth, and embaseth it.


  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 and to lose
liberty: or to seek power over others, and to lose power over a
man's self. The rising unto place is laborious; and by pains, men come
to greater pains; and it is sometimes base; and by indignities, men
come to dignities. The standing is slippery, and the regress is either
a downfall, or at least an eclipse, which is a melancholy thing. Cum
non sis qui fueris, non esse cur velis vivere. 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 men's 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, that 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. Illi mors gravis incubat, qui notus nimis omnibus,
ignotus moritur sibi. In place, there is license to do good, and evil;
whereof the latter is a curse: for in evil the best condition is not
to will; the second, not to can. But 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, and commanding ground. Merit and good works, is the end of
man's motion; and conscience of the same is the accomplishment of
man's rest. For if a man can be partaker of God's theatre, he shall
likewise be partaker of God's rest. Et conversus Deus, ut aspiceret
opera quae fecerunt manus suae, vidit quod omnia essent bona nimis;
and then the sabbath. 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. Reform therefore, without bravery, or scandal of former
times and persons; but yet set it down to thyself, as well to create
good precedents, as to follow them. Reduce things to the first
institution, and observe wherein, and how, they have degenerate; but
yet ask counsel of both times; of the ancient time, what is best;
and of the latter time, what is fittest. Seek to make thy course
regular, that men may know beforehand, what they may expect; but be
not too positive and peremptory; and express thyself well, when thou
digressest from thy rule. Preserve the right of thy place; but stir
not questions of jurisdiction; and rather assume thy right, in silence
and de facto, than voice it with claims, and challenges. Preserve
likewise the rights of inferior places; and think it more honor, to
direct in chief, than to be busy in all. Embrace and invite helps, and
advices, touching the execution of thy place; and do not drive away
such, as bring thee information, as meddlers; but accept of them in
good part. 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: do not
only bind thine own hands, or, thy servants' hands, 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 favorite, 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 is not
good; for such a man will transgress for a piece of bread. It is
most true, that was anciently spoken, A place showeth the man. And
it showeth some to the better, and some to the worse. Omnium
consensu capax imperii, nisi imperasset, saith Tacitus of Galba; but
of Vespasian he saith, Solus imperantium, Vespasianus mutatus in
melius; though the one was meant of sufficiency, the other of manners,
and affection. It is an assured sign of a worthy and generous
spirit, whom honor amends. For honor is, or should be, the place of
virtue and as in nature, things move violently to their place, and
calmly in their place, so virtue in ambition is violent, in
authority settled and calm. All rising to great place is by a
winding star; and if there be factions, it is good to side a man's
self, whilst he is in the rising, and to balance himself when he is
placed. Use the memory of thy predecessor, fairly and tenderly; for if
thou dost not, it is a debt will sure be paid when thou art gone. If
thou have colleagues, respect them, and rather call them, when they
look not for it, than exclude them, when they have reason to look to
be called. Be not too sensible, or too remembering, of thy place in
conversation, and private answers to suitors; but let it rather be
said, When he sits in place, he is another man.


  It is a trivial grammar-school text, but yet worthy a wise man's
consideration. 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 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 part of men's minds is taken, are most
potent. Wonderful like is the case of boldness in civil business: what
first? boldness; what second and third? boldness. And yet boldness
is a child of ignorance and baseness, far inferior to other parts. But
nevertheless it doth fascinate, and bind hand and foot, those that are
either shallow in judgment, or weak in courage, which are the greatest
part; yea and prevaileth with wise men at weak times. Therefore we see
it hath done wonders, in popular states; but with senates, and princes
less; and more ever upon the first entrance of bold persons into
action, than soon after; for boldness is an ill keeper of promise.
Surely, as there are mountebanks for the natural body, so are there
mountebanks for the politic body; men that undertake great cures,
and perhaps have been lucky, in two or three experiments, but want the
grounds of science, and therefore cannot hold out. Nay, you shall
see a bold fellow many times do Mahomet's miracle. Mahomet made the
people believe that he would call an hill to him, and from the top
of it offer up his prayers, for the observers of his law. The people
assembled; Mahomet called the hill to come to him, again and again;
and when the hill stood still, he was never a whit abashed, but
said, If the hill will not come to Mahomet, Mahomet, will go to the
hill. So these men, when they have promised great matters, and
failed most shamefully, yet (if they have the perfection of
boldness) they will but slight it over, and make a turn, and no more
ado. Certainly to men of great judgment, bold persons are a sport to
behold; nay, and to the vulgar also, boldness has somewhat of the
ridiculous. For if absurdity be the subject of laughter, doubt you not
but great boldness is seldom without some absurdity. Especially it
is a sport to see, when a bold fellow is out of countenance; for
that puts his face into a most shrunken, and wooden posture; as
needs it must; for in bashfulness, the spirits do a little go and
come; but with bold men, upon like occasion, they stand at a stay;
like a stale at chess, where it is no mate, but yet the game cannot
stir. But this last were fitter for a satire than for a serious
observation. This is well to be weighed; that boldness is ever
blind; for it seeth not danger, and inconveniences. Therefore it is
ill in counsel, 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.


  I take goodness in this sense, the affecting of the weal of men,
which is that the Grecians call philanthropia; and the word
humanity, (as it is used) is a little too light to express it.
Goodness I call the habit, and goodness of nature, the inclination.
This of all virtues, and dignities of the 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, nor 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; as it is seen in the Turks, a
cruel people, who nevertheless are kind to beasts, and give alms, to
dogs and birds; insomuch, as Busbechius reporteth, a Christian boy, in
Constantinople, had like to have been stoned, for gagging in a
waggishness a long-billed fowl. Errors indeed in this virtue of
goodness, or charity, may be committed. The Italians have an
ungracious proverb, Tanto buon che val niente: so good, that he is
good for nothing. And one of the doctors of Italy, Nicholas Machiavel,
had the confidence to put in writing, almost in plain terms, That
the Christian faith, had given up good men, in prey to those that
are tyrannical and unjust. Which he spake, because indeed there was
never law, or sect, or opinion, did so much magnify goodness, as the
Christian religion doth. Therefore, to avoid the scandal and the
danger both, it is good, to take knowledge of the errors of an habit
so excellent. Seek the good of other men, but be not in bondage to
their faces or fancies; for that is but facility, or softness; which
taketh an honest mind prisoner. Neither give thou AEsop's cock a
gem, who would be better pleased, and happier, if he had had
barley-corn. The example of God, teacheth the lesson truly: He sendeth
his rain, and maketh his sun to shine, upon the just and unjust; but
he doth not rain wealth, nor shine honor and virtues, upon men
equally. Common benefits, are to be communicate with all; but peculiar
benefits, with choice. And beware how in making the portraiture,
thou breakest the pattern. For divinity, maketh the love of
ourselves the pattern; the love of our neighbors, but the portraiture.
Sell all thou hast, and give it to the poor, and follow me: but,
sell not all thou hast, except thou come and follow me; that is,
except thou have a vocation, wherein thou mayest do as much good, with
little means as with great; for otherwise, in feeding the streams,
thou driest the fountain. Neither is there only a habit of goodness,
directed by right reason; but there is in some men, even in nature,
a disposition towards it; as on the other side, there is a natural
malignity. For there be that in their nature do not affect the good of
others. The lighter sort of malignity, turneth but to a crossness,
or frowardness, or aptness to oppose, or difficulties, or the like;
but the deeper sort, to envy and mere mischief. Such men, in other
men's calamities, are, as it were, in season, and are ever on the
loading part: not so good as the dogs, that licked Lazarus' sores; but
like Ries, that are still buzzing upon any thing that is raw;
misanthropi, that make it their practice, to bring men to the bough,
and yet never a tree for the purpose in their gardens, as Timon had.
Such dispositions, are the very errors of human nature; and yet they
are the fittest timber, to make great pontics of; like to knee timber,
that is good for ships, that are ordained to be tossed; but not for
building houses, that shall stand firm. 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 men's
minds, and not their trash. But above all if he have St. Paul's
perfection, that he would wish to be anathema from Christ, for the
salvation of his brethren, it shows much of a divine nature, and a
kind of conformity with Christ himself.


  We will speak of nobility, first as a portion of an estate, then
as a condition of particular persons. A monarchy, where there is no
nobility at all, is ever a pure and absolute tyranny; as that of the
Turks. For nobility attempers 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 there are stirps of nobles. For men's 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
pedigree. We see the Switzers last well, notwithstanding their
diversity of religion, and of cantons. For utility is their bond,
and not respects. The united provinces of the Low Countries, in
their government, excel; for where there is an equality, the
consultations are more indifferent, and the payments and tributes,
more cheerful. 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 besides, it being of necessity, that many of
the nobility fall, in time, to be weak in fortune, it maketh a kind of
disproportion, between honor 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 has 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 extinguisheth the passive envy
from others, towards them; because they are in possession of honor.
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.


  Shepherds of people, had need know the calendars of tempests in
state; which are commonly greatest, when things grow to equality; as
natural tempests are greatest about the Equinoctia. And as there are
certain hollow blasts of wind, and secret swellings of seas before a
tempest, so are there in states:

     --Ille etiam caecos instare tumultus

     Saepe monet, fraudesque et operta tunescere bella.

Libels and licentious discourses against the state, when they are
frequent and open; and in like sort, false news often running up and
down, to the disadvantage of the state, and hastily embraced; are
amongst the signs of troubles. Virgil, giving the pedigree of Fame,
saith, she was sister to the Giants:

     Illam Terra parens, ira irritata deorum,

     Extremam (ut perhibent) Coeo Enceladoque sororem


As if fames were the relics of seditions past; but they are no less,
indeed, the preludes of seditions to come. Howsoever he noteth it
right, that seditious tumults, and seditious fames, differ no more but
as brother and sister, masculine and feminine; especially if it come
to that, that the best actions of a state, and the most plausible, and
which ought to give greatest contentment, are taken in ill sense,
and traduced: for that shows the envy great, as Tacitus saith;
conflata magna invidia, seu bene seu male gesta premunt. Neither
doth it follow, that because these fames are a sign of troubles,
that the suppressing of them with too much severity, should be a
remedy of troubles. For the despising of them, many times checks
them best; and the going about to stop them, doth but make a wonder
long-lived. Also that kind of obedience, which Tacitus speaketh of, is
to be held suspected: Erant in officio, sed tamen qui mallent
mandata imperantium interpretari quam exequi disputing, excusing,
cavilling upon mandates and directions, is a kind of shaking off the
yoke, and assay of disobedience; especially if in those disputings,
they which are for the direction, speak fearfully and tenderly, and
those that are against it, audaciously.

  Also, as Machiavel noteth well, when princes, that ought to be
common parents, make themselves as a party, and lean to a side, it
is as a boat, that is overthrown by uneven weight on the one side;
as was well seen, in the time of Henry the Third of France; for first,
himself entered league for the extirpation of the Protestants; and
presently after, the same league was turned upon himself. For when the
authority of princes, is made but an accessory to a cause, and that
there be other bands, that tie faster than the band of sovereignty,
kings begin to be put almost out of possession.

  Also, when discords, and quarrels, and factions are carried openly
and audaciously, it is a sign the reverence of government is lost. For
the motions of the greatest persons in a government, ought to be as
the motions of the planets under primum mobile; according to the old
opinion: which is, that every of them, is carried swiftly by the
highest motion, and softly in their own motion. And therefore, when
great ones in their own particular motion, move violently, and, as
Tacitus expresseth it well, liberius quam ut imperantium
meminissent; it is a sign the orbs are out of frame. For reverence
is that? wherewith princes are girt from God; who threateneth the
dissolving thereof; Solvam cingula regum.

  So when any of the four pillars of government, are mainly shaken, or
weakened (which are religion, justice, counsel, and treasure), men had
need to pray for fair weather. But let us pass from this part of
predictions (concerning which, nevertheless, more light may be taken
from that which followeth); and let us speak first, of the materials
of seditions; then of the motives of them; and thirdly of the

  Concerning the materials of seditions. It is a thing well to be
considered; for the surest way to prevent seditions (if the times do
bear it) is to take away the matter of them. For if there be fuel
prepared, it is hard to tell, whence the spark shall come, that
shall set it on fire. The matter of seditions is of two kinds: much
poverty, and much discontentment. It is certain, so many overthrown
estates, so many votes for troubles. Lucan noteth well the state of
Rome before the Civil War,

      Hinc usura vorax, rapidumque in tempore foenus,

      Hinc concussa fides, et multis utile bellum.

This same multis utile bellum, is an assured and infallible sign, of a
state disposed to seditions and troubles. And if this poverty and
broken estate in the better sort, be joined with a want and
necessity in the mean people, the danger is imminent and great. For
the rebellions of the belly are the worst. As for discontentments,
they are, in the politic body, like to humors in the natural, which
are apt to gather a preternatural heat, and to inflame. And let no
prince measure the danger of them by this, whether they be just or
unjust: for that were to imagine people, to be too reasonable; who
do often spurn at their own good: nor yet by this, whether the
griefs whereupon they rise, be in fact great or small: for they are
the most dangerous discontentments, where the fear is greater than the
feeling. Dolendi modus, timendi non item. Besides, in great
oppressions, the same things that provoke the patience, do withal mate
the courage; but in fears it is not so. Neither let any prince, or
state, be secure concerning discontentments, because they have been
often, or have been long, and yet no peril hath ensued: for as it is
true, that every vapor or fume doth not turn into a storm; so it is
nevertheless true, that storms, though they blow over divers times,
yet may fall at last; and, as the Spanish proverb noteth well, The
cord breaketh at the last by the weakest pull.

  The causes and motives of seditions are, innovation in religion;
taxes; alteration of laws and customs; breaking of privileges; general
oppression; advancement of unworthy persons; strangers; dearths;
disbanded soldiers; factions grown desperate; and what soever, in
offending people, joineth and knitteth them in a common cause.

  For the remedies; there may be some general preservatives, whereof
we will speak: as for the just cure, it must answer to the
particular disease; and so be left to counsel, rather than rule.

  The first remedy or prevention is to remove, by all means
possible, that material cause of sedition whereof we spake; which
is, want and poverty in the estate. To which purpose serveth the
opening, and well-balancing of trade; the cherishing of
manufactures; the banishing of idleness; the repressing of waste,
and excess, by sumptuary laws; the improvement and husbanding of the
soil; the regulating of prices of things vendible; the moderating of
taxes and tributes; and the like. Generally, it is to be foreseen that
the population of a kingdom (especially if it be not mown down by
wars) do not exceed the stock of the kingdom, which should maintain
them. Neither is the population to be reckoned only by number; for a
smaller number, that spend more and earn less, do wear out an estate
sooner, than a greater number that live lower, and gather more.
Therefore the multiplying of nobility, and other degrees of quality,
in an over proportion to the common people, doth speedily bring a
state to necessity; and so doth likewise an overgrown clergy; for they
bring nothing to the stock; and in like manner, when more are bred
scholars, than preferments can take off.

  It is likewise to be remembered, that forasmuch as the increase of
any estate must be upon the foreigner (for whatsoever is somewhere
gotten, is somewhere lost), there be but three things, which one
nation selleth unto another; the commodity as nature yieldeth it;
the manufacture; and the vecture, or carriage. So that if these
three wheels go, wealth will flow as in a spring tide. And it cometh
many times to pass, that materiam superabit opus; that the work and
carriage is more worth than the material, and enricheth a state
more; as is notably seen in the Low-Countrymen, who have the best
mines above ground, in the world.

  Above all things, good policy is to be used, that the treasure and
moneys, in a state, be not gathered into few hands. For otherwise a
state may have a great stock, and yet starve. And money is like
muck, not good except it be spread. This is done, chiefly by
suppressing, or at least keeping a strait hand, upon the devouring
trades of usury, ingrossing great pasturages, and the like.

  For removing discontentments, or at least the danger of them;
there is in every state (as we know) two portions of subjects; the
noblesse and the commonalty. When one of these is discontent, the
danger is not great; for common people are of slow motion, if they
be not excited by the greater sort; and the greater sort are of
small strength, except the multitude be apt, and ready to move of
themselves. Then is the danger, when the greater sort, do but wait for
the troubling of the waters amongst the meaner, that then they may
declare themselves. The poets feign, that the rest of the gods would
have bound Jupiter; which he hearing of, by the counsel of Pallas,
sent for Briareus, with his hundred hands, to come in to his aid. An
emblem, no doubt, to show how safe it is for monarchs, to make sure of
the good will of common people. To give moderate liberty for griefs
and discontentments to evaporate (so it be without too great insolency
or bravery), is a safe way. For he that turneth the humors back, and
maketh the wound bleed inwards, endangereth malign ulcers, and
pernicious imposthumations.

  The part of Epimetheus mought well become Prometheus, in the case of
discontentments: for there is not a better provision against them.
Epimetheus, when griefs and evils flew abroad, at last shut the lid,
and kept hope in the bottom of the vessel. Certainly, the politic
and artificial nourishing, and entertaining of hopes, and carrying men
from hopes to hopes, is one of the best antidotes against the poison
of discontentments. And it is a certain sign of a wise government
and proceeding, when it can hold men's hearts by hopes, when it cannot
by satisfaction; and when it can handle things, in such manner, as
no evil shall appear so peremptory, but that it hath some outlet of
hope; which is the less hard to do, because both particular persons
and factions, are apt enough to flatter themselves, or at least to
brave that, which they believe not.

  Also the foresight and prevention, that there be no likely or fit
head, whereunto discontented persons may resort, and under whom they
may join, is a known, but an excellent point of caution. I
understand a fit head, to be one that hath greatness and reputation;
that hath confidence with the discontented party, and upon whom they
turn their eyes; and that is thought discontented, in his own
particular: which kind of persons, are either to be won, and
reconciled to the state, and that in a fast and true manner; or to
be fronted with some other, of the same party, that may oppose them,
and so divide the reputation. Generally, the dividing and breaking, of
all factions and combinations that are adverse to the state, and
setting them at distance, or at least distrust, amongst themselves, is
not one of the worst remedies. For it is a desperate case, if those
that hold with the proceeding of the state, be full of discord and
faction, and those that are against it, be entire and united.

  I have noted, that some witty and sharp speeches, which have
fallen from princes, have given fire to seditions. Caesar did
himself infinite hurt in that speech, Sylla nescivit literas, non
potuit dictare; for it did utterly cut off that hope, which men had
entertained, that he would at one time or other give over his
dictatorship. Galba undid himself by that speech, legi a se militem,
non emi; for it put the soldiers out of hope of the donative. Probus
likewise, by that speech, Si vixero, non opus erit amplius Romano
imperio militibus; a speech of great despair for the soldiers. And
many the like. Surely princes had need, in tender matters and ticklish
times, to beware what they say; especially in these short speeches,
which fly abroad like darts, and are thought to be shot out of their
secret intentions. For as for large discourses, they are flat
things, and not so much noted.

  Lastly, let princes, against all events, not be without some great
person, one or rather more, of military valor, near unto them, for the
repressing of seditions in their beginnings. For without that, there
useth to be more trepidation in court upon the first breaking out of
troubles, than were fit. And the state runneth the danger of that
which Tacitus saith; Atque is habitus animorum fuit, ut pessimum
facinus auderent pauci, plures vellent, omnes paterentur. But let such
military persons be assured, and well reputed of, rather than factious
and popular; holding also good correspondence with the other great men
in the state; or else the remedy, is worse than the disease.


  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 miracle, to convince atheism, because his
ordinary works convince it. It is true, that a little philosophy
inclineth man's mind to atheism; but depth in philosophy bringeth
men's minds about to religion. For while the mind of man looketh
upon second causes scattered, it may sometimes rest in them, and go no
further; but when it beholdeth the chain of them, confederate and
linked together, it must needs fly to Providence and Deity. Nay,
even that school which is most accused of atheism doth most
demonstrate religion; that is, the school of Leucippus and
Democritus and Epicurus. For it is a thousand times more credible,
that four mutable elements, and one immutable fifth essence, duly
and eternally placed, need no God, than that an army of infinite small
portions, or seeds unplaced, should have produced this order and
beauty, without a divine marshal. 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. It appeareth in nothing more, that
atheism is rather in the lip, than in the heart of man, than by
this; that atheists will ever be talking of that their opinion, as
if they fainted in it, within themselves, and would be glad to be
strengthened, by the consent of others. Nay more, you shall have
atheists strive to get disciples, as it fareth with other sects.
And, which is most of all, you shall have of them, that will suffer
for atheism, and not recant; whereas if they did truly think, that
there were no such thing as God, why should they trouble themselves?
Epicurus is charged, that he did but dissemble for his credit's
sake, when he affirmed there were blessed natures, but such as enjoyed
themselves, without having respect to the government of the world.
Wherein they say he did temporize; though in secret, he thought
there was no God. But certainly he is traduced; for his words are
noble and divine: Non deos vulgi negare profanum; sed vulgi
opiniones diis applicare profanum. Plato could have said no more.
And although he had the confidence, to deny the administration, he had
not the power, to deny the nature. The Indians of the West, have names
for their particular gods, though they have no name for God: as if the
heathens should have had the names Jupiter, Apollo, Mars, etc., but
not the word Deus; which shows that even those barbarous people have
the notion, though they have not the latitude and extent of it. So
that against atheists, the very savages take part, with the very
subtlest philosophers. The contemplative atheist is rare: a
Diagoras, a Bion, a Lucian perhaps, and some others; and yet they seem
to be more than they are; for that all that impugn a received
religion, or superstition, are by the adverse part branded with the
name of atheists. But the great atheists, indeed are hypocrites; which
are ever handling holy things, but without feeling; so as they must
needs be cauterized in the end. The causes of atheism are: divisions
in religion, if they be many; for any one main division, addeth zeal
to both sides; but many divisions introduce atheism. Another is,
scandal of priests; when it is come to that which St. Bernard saith,
non est jam dicere, ut populus sic sacerdos; quia nec sic populus ut
sacerdos. A third is, custom of profane scoffing in holy matters;
which doth, by little and little, deface the reverence of religion.
And lastly, learned times, specially with peace and prosperity; for
troubles and adversities do more bow men's minds to religion. They
that deny a God, destroy man's 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 of human nature; for take an example of a
dog, and mark what a generosity and courage he will put on, when he
finds himself maintained by a man; who to him is instead of a God,
or melior natura; which courage is manifestly such, as that
creature, without that confidence of a better nature than his own,
could never attain. So man, when he resteth and assureth himself, upon
divine protection and favor, gathered 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. As it is in particular
persons, so it is in nations. Never was there such a state for
magnanimity as Rome. Of this state hear what Cicero saith: Quam
volumus licet, patres conscripti, nos amemus, tamen nec numero
Hispanos, nec robore Gallos, nec calliditate Poenos, nec artibus
Graecos, nec denique hoc ipso hujus gentis et terrae domestico
nativoque sensu Italos ipsos et Latinos; sed pietate, ad religione,
atque hac una sapientia, quod deorum immortalium numine omnia regi
gubernarique perspeximus, omnes gentes nationesque superavimus.


  It were better to have no opinion of God at all, than such an
opinion, as is unworthy of him. For the one is unbelief, the other
is contumely; and certainly superstition is the reproach of the Deity.
Plutarch saith well to that purpose: Surely (saith he) I had rather
a great deal, men should say, there was no sitch man at all, as
Plutarch, than that they should say, that there was one Plutarch, that
would eat his children as soon as they were born; as the poets speak
of Saturn. And as the contumely is greater towards God, so the
danger is greater towards men. Atheism leaves a man to sense, to
philosophy, to natural piety, to laws, to reputation all which may
be guides to an outward moral virtue, though religion were not; but
superstition dismounts all these, and erecteth an absolute monarchy,
in the minds of men. Therefore theism did never perturb states; for it
makes men wary of themselves, as looking no further: and we see the
times inclined to atheism (as the time of Augustus Caesar) were
civil times. But superstition hath been the confusion of many
states, and bringeth in a new primum mobile, that ravisheth all the
spheres of government. The master of superstition, is the people;
and in all superstition, wise men follow fools; and arguments are
fitted to practice, in a reversed order. It was gravely said by some
of the prelates in the Council of Trent, where the doctrine of the
Schoolmen bare great sway, that the Schoolmen were like astronomers,
which did feign eccentrics and epicycles, and such engines of orbs, to
save the phenomena; though they knew there were no such things; and in
like manner, that the Schoolmen had framed a number of subtle and
intricate axioms, and theorems, to save the practice of the church.
The causes of superstition are: pleasing and sensual rites and
ceremonies; excess of outward and pharisaical holiness; overgreat
reverence of traditions, which cannot but load the church; the
stratagems of prelates, for their own ambition and lucre; the favoring
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. Superstition, without
a veil, is a deformed thing; for, as it addeth deformity to an ape, to
be so like a man, so the similitude of superstition to religion, makes
it the more deformed. And as wholesome meat corrupteth to little
worms, so good forms and orders corrupt, into a number of petty
observances. There is a superstition in avoiding superstition, when
men think to do best, if they go furthest from the superstition,
formerly received; therefore care would be had that (as it fareth in
the good be not taken away with the bad; which commonly is done,
when the people is the reformer.


  Travel, in the younger sort, is a part of education, in the elder, a
part of experience. He that travelleth into a country, before he
hath some entrance into the language, goeth to school, and not to
travel. That young men travel under some tutor, or grave servant, I
allow well; so that he be such a one that hath the language, and
hath been in the country before; whereby he may be able to tell them
what things are worthy to be seen, in the country where they go;
what acquaintances they are to seek; what exercises, or discipline,
the place yieldeth. For else, young men shall go hooded, and look
abroad little. It is a strange thing, that in sea voyages, where there
is nothing to be seen, but sky and sea, men should make diaries; but
in land-travel, wherein so much is to be observed, for the most part
they omit it; as if chance were fitter to be registered, than
observation. Let diaries, therefore, be brought in use. The things
to be seen and observed 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 heavens
and harbors; 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. After all which, the tutors,
or servants, ought to make diligent inquiry. As for triumphs, masks,
feasts, weddings, funerals, capital executions, and such shows, men
need not to be put in mind of them; yet are they not to be
neglected. If you will have a young man to put his travel into a
little room, and in short time to gather much, this you must do.
First, as was said, he must have some entrance into the language
before he goeth. Then he must have such a servant, or tutor, as
knoweth the country, as was likewise said. Let him carry with him
also, some card or book, describing the country where he travelleth;
which will be a good key to his inquiry. Let him keep also a diary.
Let him not stay long, in one city or town; more or less as the
place deserveth, but not long; nay, when he stayeth in one city or
town, let him change his lodging from one end and part of the town, to
another; which is a great adamant of acquaintance. Let him sequester
himself, from the company of his countrymen, and diet in such
places, where there is good company of the nation where he travelleth.
Let him, upon his removes from one place to another, procure
recommendation to some person of quality, residing in the place
whither he removeth; that he may use his favor, in those things he
desireth to see or know. Thus he may abridge his travel, with much
profit. 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 in all kinds, which are of great name
abroad; that he may be able to tell, how the life agreeth with the
fame. For quarrels, they are with care and discretion to be avoided.
They are commonly for mistresses, healths, place, and words. And let a
man beware, how he keepeth company with choleric and quarrelsome
persons; for they will engage him into their own quarrels. When a
traveller returneth home, let him not leave the countries, where he
hath travelled, altogether behind him; but maintain a correspondence
by letters, with those of his acquaintance. which are of most worth.
And let his travel appear rather in his discourse, than 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.


  It is a miserable state of mind, to have few things to desire, and
many things to fear; and yet that commonly is the case of kings;
who, being at the highest, want matter of desire, which makes their
minds more languishing; and have many representations of perils and
shadows, which makes their minds the less clear. And this is one
reason also, of that effect which the Scripture speaketh of, That
the king's heart is inscrutable. For multitude of jealousies, and lack
of some predominant desire, that should marshal and put in order all
the rest, maketh any man's heart, hard to find or sound. Hence it
comes likewise, that princes many times make themselves desires, and
set their hearts upon toys; sometimes upon a building; sometimes
upon erecting of an order; sometimes upon the advancing of a person;
sometimes upon obtaining excellency in some art, or feat of the
hand; as Nero for playing on the harp, Domitian for certainty of the
hand with the arrow, Commodus for playing at fence, Caracalla for
driving chariots, and the like. This seemeth incredible, unto those
that know not the principle, that the mind of man, is more cheered and
refreshed by profiting in small things, than by standing at a stay, in
great. We see also that kings that have been fortunate conquerors,
in their first years, it being not possible for them to go forward
infinitely, but that they must have some check, or arrest in their
fortunes, turn in their latter years to be superstitious, and
melancholy; as did Alexander the Great; Diocletian; and in our memory,
Charles the Fifth; and others: for he that is used to go forward,
and findeth a stop, falleth out of his own favor, and is not the thing
he was.

  To speak now of the true temper of empire, it is a thing rare and
hard to keep; for both temper, and distemper, consist of contraries.
But it is one thing, to mingle contraries, another to interchange
them. The answer of Apollonius to Vespasian, is full of excellent
instruction. Vespasian asked him, What was Nero's overthrow? He
answered, Nero could touch and tune the harp well; but in
government, sometimes he used to wind the pins too high, sometimes
to let them down too low. And certain it is, that nothing destroyeth
authority so much, as the unequal and untimely interchange of power
pressed too far, and relaxed too much.

  This is true, that the wisdom of all these latter times, in princes'
affairs, is rather fine deliveries, and shiftings of dangers and
mischiefs, when they are near, than solid and grounded courses to keep
them aloof. But this is but to try masteries with fortune. And let men
beware, how they neglect and suffer matter of trouble to be prepared
for no man can forbid the spark, nor tell whence it may come. The
difficulties in princes' business are many and great; but the greatest
difficulty, is often in their own mind. For it is common with
princes (saith Tacitus) to will contradictories, Sunt plerumque
regum voluntates vehementes, et inter se contrariae. For it is the
solecism of power, to think to command the end, and yet not to
endure the mean.

  Kings have to deal with their neighbors, their wives, their
children, their prelates or clergy, their nobles, their
second-nobles or gentlemen, their merchants, their commons, and
their men of war; and from all these arise dangers, if care and
circumspection be not used.

  First for their neighbors; there can no general rule be given (for
occasions are so variable), save one, which ever holdeth, which is,
that princes do keep due sentinel, that none of their neighbors do
ever grow so (by increase of territory, by embracing of trade, by
approaches, or the like), as they become more able to annoy them, than
they were. And this is generally the work of standing counsels, to
foresee and to hinder it. During that triumvirate of kings, King Henry
the Eighth of England, Francis the First King of France, and Charles
the Fifth Emperor, there was such a watch kept, that none of the three
could win a palm of ground, but the other two would straightways
balance it, either by confederation, or, if need were, by a war; and
would not in any wise take up peace at interest. And the like was done
by that league (which Guicciardini saith was the security of Italy)
made between Ferdinando King of Naples, Lorenzius Medici, and
Ludovicus Sforza, potentates, the one of Florence, the other of Milan.
Neither is the opinion of some of the Schoolmen, to be received,
that a war cannot justly be made, but upon a precedent injury, or
provocation. For there is no question, but a just fear of an
imminent danger, though there be no blow given, is a lawful cause of a

  For their wives; there are cruel examples of them. Livia is infamed,
for the poisoning of her husband; Roxalana, Solyman's wife, was the
destruction of that renowned prince, Sultan Mustapha, and otherwise
troubled his house and succession; Edward the Second of England, his
queen, had the principal hand in the deposing and murder of her
husband. This kind of danger, is then to be feared chiefly, when the
wives have plots, for the raising of their own children; or else
that they be advoutresses.

  For their children; the tragedies likewise of dangers from them,
have been many. And generally, the entering of fathers into
suspicion of their children, hath been ever unfortunate. The
destruction of Mustapha (that we named before) was so fatal to
Solyman's line, as the succession of the Turks, from Solyman until
this day, is suspected to be untrue, and of strange blood; for that
Selymus the Second, was thought to be suppositious. The destruction of
Crispus, a young prince of rare towardness, by Constantinus the Great,
his father, was in like manner fatal to his house; for both
Constantinus and Constance, his sons, died violent deaths; and
Constantius, his other son, did little better; who died indeed of
sickness, but after that Julianus had taken arms against him. The
destruction of Demetrius, son to Philip the Second of Macedon,
turned upon the father, who died of repentance. And many like examples
there are; but few or none, where the fathers had good by such
distrust; except it were, where the sons were up in open arms
against them; as was Selymus the First against Bajazet; and the
three sons of Henry the Second, King of England.

  For their prelates; when they are proud and great, there is also
danger from them; as it was in the times of Anselmus, and Thomas
Becket, Archbishops of Canterbury; who, with their croziers, did
almost try it with the king's sword; and yet they had to deal with
stout and haughty kings, William Rufus, Henry the First, and Henry the
Second. The danger is not from that state, but where it hath a
dependence of foreign authority; or where the churchmen come in and
are elected, not by the collation of the king, or particular
patrons, but by the people.

  For their nobles; to keep them at a distance, it is not amiss; but
to depress them, may make a king more absolute, but less safe; and
less able to perform, any thing that he desires. I have noted it, in
my History of King Henry the Seventh of England, who depressed his
nobility; whereupon it came to pass, that his times were full of
difficidties and troubles; for the nobility, though they continued
loyal unto him, yet did they not co-operate with him in his
business. So that in effect, he was fain to do all things himself.

  For their second-nobles; there is not much danger from them, being a
body dispersed. They may sometimes discourse high, but that doth
little hurt; besides, they are a counterpoise to the higher
nobility, that they grow not too potent; and, lastly, being the most
immediate in authority, with the common people, they do best temper
popular commotions.

  For their merchants; they are vena porta; and if they flourish
not, a kingdom may have good limbs, but will have empty veins, and
nourish little. Taxes and imposts upon them, do seldom good to the
king's revenue; for that that wins in the hundred, he leeseth in the
shire; the particular rates being increased, but the total bulk of
trading, rather decreased.

  For their commons; there is little danger from them, except it be,
where they have great and potent heads; or where you meddle with the
point of religion, or their customs, or means of life.

  For their men of war; it is a dangerous state, where they live and
remain in a body, and are used to donatives; whereof we see examples
in the janizaries, and pretorian bands of Rome; but trainings of
men, and arming them in several places, and under several
commanders, and without donatives, are things of defence, and no

  Princes are like to heavenly bodies, which cause good or evil times;
and which have much veneration, but no rest. All precepts concerning
kings, are in effect comprehended in those two remembrances: memento
quod es homo; and memento quod es Deus, or vice Dei; the one
bridleth their power, and the other their will.


  The greatest trust, between man and man, is the trust of giving
counsel. For in other confidences, men commit the parts of life; their
lands, their goods, their children, their credit, some particular
affair; but to such as they make their counsellors, they commit the
whole: by how much the more, they are obliged to all faith and
integrity. The wisest princes need not think it any diminution to
their greatness, or derogation to their sufficiency, to rely upon
counsel. God himself is not without, but hath made it one of the great
names of his blessed Son: The Counsellor. Solomon hath pronounced,
that in counsel is stability. Things will have their first, or
second agitation: if they be not tossed upon the arguments of counsel,
they will be tossed upon the waves of fortune; and be full of
inconstancy, doing and undoing, like the reeling of a drunken man.
Solomon's son found the force of counsel, as his father saw the
necessity of it. For the beloved kingdom of God, was first rent, and
broken, by ill counsel; upon which counsel, there are set for our
instruction, the two marks whereby bad counsel is for ever best
discerned; that it was young counsel, for the person; and violent
counsel, for the matter.

  The ancient times, do set forth in figure, both the incorporation,
and inseparable conjunction, of counsel with kings, and the wise and
politic use of counsel by kings: the one, in that they say Jupiter did
marry Metis, which signifieth counsel; whereby they intend that
Sovereignty, is manied to Counsel: the other in that which
followeth, which was thus: They say, after Jupiter was married to
Metis, she conceived by him, and was with child, but Jupiter
suffered her not to stay, till she brought forth, but eat her up;
whereby he became himself with child, and was delivered of Pallas
armed, out of his head. Which monstrous fable containeth a secret of
empire; how kings are to make use of their counsel of state. That
first, they ought to refer matters unto them, which is the first
begetting, or impregnation; but when they are elaborate, moulded,
and shaped in the womb of their counsel, and grow ripe, and ready to
be brought forth, that then they suffer not their counsel, to go
through with the resolution and direction, as if it depended on
them; but take the matter back into their own hands, and make it
appear to the world, that the decrees and final directions (which,
because they come forth, with prudence and power, are resembled to
Pallas armed) proceeded from themselves; and not only from their
authority, but (the more to add reputation to themselves) from their
head and device.

  Let us now speak of the inconveniences of counsel, and of the
remedies. The inconveniences that have been noted, in calling and
using counsel, are three. First, the revealing of affairs, whereby
they become less secret. Secondly, the weakening of the authority of
princes, as if they were less of themselves. Thirdly, the danger of
being unfaithfully counselled, and more for the good of them that
counsel, than of him that is counselled. For which inconveniences, the
doctrine of Italy, and practice of France, in some kings' times,
hath introduced cabinet counsels; a remedy worse than the disease.

  As to secrecy; princes are not bound to communicate all matters,
with all counsellors; but may extract and select. Neither is it
necessary, that he that consulteth what he should do, should declare
what he will do. But let princes beware, that the unsecreting of their
affairs, comes not from themselves. And as for cabinet counsels, it
may be their motto, plenus rimarum sum: one futile person, that maketh
it his glory to tell, will do more hurt than many, that know it
their duty to conceal. It is true there be some affairs, which require
extreme secrecy, which will hardly go beyond one or two persons,
besides the king: neither are those counsels unprosperous; for,
besides the secrecy, they commonly go on constantly, in one spirit
of direction, without distraction. But then it must be a prudent king,
such as is able to grind with a handmill; and those inward counsellors
had need also be wise men, and especially true and trusty to the
king's ends; as it was with King Henry the Seventh of England, who, in
his great business, imparted himself to none, except it were to Morton
and Fox.

  For weakening of authority; the fable showeth the remedy. Nay, the
majesty of kings, is rather exalted than diminished, when they are
in the chair of counsel; neither was there ever prince, bereaved of
his dependences, by his counsel, except where there hath been,
either an over-greatness in one counsellor, or an over-strict
combination in divers; which are things soon found, and holpen.

  For the last inconvenience, that men will counsel, with an eye to
themselves; certainly, non inveniet fidem super terram is meant, of
the nature of times, and not of all particular persons. There be, that
are in nature faithful, and sincere, and plain, and direct; not crafty
and involved; let princes, above all, draw to themselves such natures.
Besides, counsellors are not commonly so united, but that one
counsellor, keepeth sentinel over another; so that if any do counsel
out of faction or private ends, it commonly comes to the king's ear.
But the best remedy is, if princes know their counsellors, as well
as their counsellors know them:

      Principis est virtus maxima nosse suos.

And on the other side, counsellors should not be too speculative
into their sovereign's person. The true composition of a counsellor,
is rather to be skilful in their master's business than in his nature;
for then he is like to advise him, and not feed his humor. It is of
singular use to princes, if they take the opinions of their counsel,
both separately and together. For private opinion is more free; but
opinion before others, is more reverent. In private, men are more bold
in their own humors; and in consort, men are more obnoxious to others'
humors; therefore it is good to take both; and of the inferior sort,
rather in private, to preserve freedom; of the greater, rather in
consort, to preserve respect. It is in vain for princes, to take
counsel concerning matters, if they take no counsel likewise
concerning persons; for all matters are as dead images; and the life
of the execution of affairs, resteth in the good choice of persons.
Neither is it enough, to consult concerning persons secundum genera,
as in an idea, or mathematical description, what the kind and
character of the person should be; for the greatest errors are
committed, and the most judgment is shown, in the choice of
individuals. It was truly said, optimi consiliarii mortui: books
will speak plain, when counsellors blanch. Therefore it is good to
be conversant in them, specially the books of such as themselves
have been actors upon the stage.

  The counsels at this day, in most places, are but familiar meetings,
where matters are rather talked on, than debated. And they run too
swift, to the order, or act, of counsel. It were better that in causes
of weight, the matter were propounded one day, and not spoken to
till the next day; in nocte consilium. So was it done in the
Commission of Union, between England and Scotland; which was a grave
and orderly assembly. I commend set days for petitions; for both it
gives the suitors more certainty for their attendance, and it frees
the meetings for matters of estate, that they may hoc agere. In choice
of committees; for ripening business for the counsel, it is better
to choose indifferent persons, than to make an indifferency, by
putting in those, that are strong on both sides. I commend also
standing commissions; as for trade, for treasure, for war, for
suits, for some provinces; for where there be divers particular
counsels, and but one counsel of estate (as it is in Spain), they are,
in effect, no more than standing commissions: save that they have
greater authority. Let such as are to inform counsels, out of their
particular professions (as lawyers, seamen, mintmen, and the like)
be first heard before committees; and then, as occasion serves, before
the counsel. And let them not come in multitudes, or in a tribunitious
manner; for that is to clamor counsels, not to inform them. A long
table and a square table, or seats 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. A
king, when he presides in counsel, let him beware how he opens his own
inclination too much, in that which he propoundeth; for else
counsellors will but take the wind of him, and instead of giving
free counsel, sing him a song of placebo.


  Fortune is like the market; where many times if you can stay a
little, the price will fall. Again, it is sometimes like Sibylla's
offer; which at first, offereth the commodity at full, then
consumeth part and part, and still holdeth up the price. For
occasion (as it is in the common verse) turneth a bald noddle, after
she hath presented her locks in front, and no hold taken or at least
turneth the handle of the bottle, first to be received, and after
the belly, which is hard to clasp. There is surely no greater
wisdom, than well to time the beginnings, and onsets, of things.
Dangers are no more light, if they once seem light; and more dangers
have deceived men, than forced them. Nay, it were better, to meet some
dangers half way, though they come nothing near, than to keep too long
a watch upon their approaches; for if a man watch too long, it is odds
he will fall asleep. On the other side, to be deceived with too long
shadows (as some have been, when the moon was low, and shone on
their enemies' back), and so to shoot off before the time; or to teach
dangers to come on, by over early buckling towards them; is another
extreme. The ripeness, or unripeness, of the occasion (as we said)
must ever be well weighed; and generally it is good, to commit the
beginnings of an great actions to Argus, with his hundred eyes, and
the ends to Briareus, with his hundred hands; first to watch, and then
to speed. For the helmet of Pluto, which maketh the politic man go
invisible, is secrecy in the counsel, and celerity in the execution.
For when things are once come to the execution, there is no secrecy,
comparable to celerity; like the motion of a bullet in the air,
which flieth so swift, as it outruns the eye.


  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. There be,
that can pack the cards, and yet cannot play well; so there are some
that are good in canvasses and factions, that are otherwise weak
men. Again, it is one thing to understand persons, and another thing
to understand matters; for many are perfect in men's humors, that
are not greatly capable of the real part of business; which is the
constitution of one that hath studied men, more than books. Such men
are fitter for practice, than for counsel; and they are good, but in
their own alley: turn them to new men, and they have lost their aim;
so as the old rule, to know a fool from a wise man, Mitte ambos
nudos ad ignotos, et videbis, doth scarce hold for them. And because
these cunning men, are like haberdashers of small wares, it is not
amiss to set forth their shop.

  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.

  Another is, that when you have anything to obtain, of present
despatch, you entertain and amuse the party, with whom you deal,
with some other discourse; that he be not too much awake to make
objections. I knew a counsellor and secretary, that never came to
Queen Elizabeth of England, with bills to sign, but he would always
first put her into some discourse of estate, that she mought the
less mind the bills.

  The like surprise may be made by moving things, when the party is in
haste, and cannot stay to consider advisedly of that is moved.

  If a man would cross a business, that he doubts some other would
handsomely and effectually move, let him pretend to wish it well,
and move it himself in such sort as may foil it.

  The breaking off, in the midst of that one was about to say, as if
he took himself up, breeds a greater appetite in him with whom you
confer, to know more.

  And because it works better, when anything seemeth to be gotten from
you by question, than if you offer it of yourself, you may lay a
bait for a question, by showing another visage, and countenance,
than you are wont; to the end to give occasion, for the party to
ask, what the matter is of the change? As Nehemias did; And I had
not before that time, been sad before the king.

  In things that are tender and unpleasing, it is good to break the
ice, by some whose words are of less weight, and to reserve the more
weighty voice, to come in as by chance, so that he may be asked the
question upon the other's speech: as Narcissus did, relating to
Claudius the marriage of Messalina and Silius.

  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.

  I knew one that, when he wrote a letter, he would put that, which
was most material, in the postscript, as if it had been a by-matter.

  I knew another that, when he came to have speech, he would pass over
that, that he intended most; and go forth, and come back again, and
speak of it as of a thing, that he had almost forgot.

  Some procure themselves, to be surprised, at such times as it is
like the party that they work upon, will suddenly come upon them;
and to be found with a letter in their hand or doing somewhat which
they are not accustomed; to the end, they may be apposed of those
things, which of themselves they are desirous to utter.

  It is a point of cunning, to let fall those words in a man's own
name, which he would have another man learn, and use, and thereupon
take advantage. I knew two, that were competitors for the
secretary's place in Queen Elizabeth's time, and yet kept good quarter
between themselves; and would confer, one with another, upon the
business; and the one of them said, That to be a secretary, in the
declination of a monarchy, was a ticklish thing, and that he did not
affect it: the other straight caught up those words, and discoursed
with divers of his friends, that he had no reason to desire to be
secretary, in the declination of a monarchy. The first man took hold
of it, and found means it was told the Queen; who, hearing of a
declination of a monarchy, took it so ill, as she would never after
hear of the other's suit.

  There is a cunning, which we in England can, the turning of the
cat in the pan; which is, when that which a man says to another, he
lays it as if another had said it to him. And to say truth, it is
not easy, when such a matter passed between two, to make it appear
from which of them it first moved and began.

  It is a way that some men have, to glance and dart at others, by
justifying themselves by negatives; as to say, This I do not; as
Tigellinus did towards Burrhus, Se non diversas spes, sed
incolumitatem imperatoris simpliciter spectare.

  Some have in readiness so many tales and stories, as there is
nothing they would insinuate, but they can wrap it into a tale;
which serveth both to keep themselves more in guard, and to make
others carry it with more pleasure. 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.

  It is strange how long some men will lie in wait to speak somewhat
they desire to say; and how far about they will fetch; and how many
other matters they will beat over, to come near it. It is a thing of
great patience, but yet of much use.

  A sudden, bold, and unexpected question doth many times surprise a
man, and lay him open. Like to him that, having changed his name,
and walking in Paul's, another suddenly came behind him, and called
him by his true name whereat straightways he looked back.

  But these small wares, and petty points, of cunning, are infinite;
and it were a good deed to make a list of them; for that nothing
doth more hurt in a state, than that cunning men pass for wise.

  But certainly some there are that know the resorts and fans of
business, that cannot sink into the main of it; like a house that hath
convenient stairs and entries, but never a fair room. Therefore you
shall see them find out pretty looses in the conclusion, but are no
ways able to examine or debate matters. And yet commonly they take
advantage of their inability, and would be thought wits of
direction. Some build rather upon the abusing of others, and (as we
now say) putting tricks upon them, than upon soundness of their own
proceedings. But Solomon saith, Prudens advertit ad gressus suos;
stultus divertit ad dolos.


  An ant is a wise creature for itself, but it is a shrewd thing, in
an orchard or garden. And certainly, men that are great lovers of
themselves, waste the public. Divide with reason; between selflove and
society; and be so true to thyself, as thou be not false to others;
specially to thy king and country. It is a poor centre of a man's
actions, himself. It is right earth. For that only stands fast upon
his own centre; whereas all things, that have affinity with the
heavens, move upon the centre of another, which they benefit. The
referring of all to a man's self, is more tolerable in a sovereign
prince; because themselves are not only themselves, but their good and
evil is at the peril of the public fortune. But it is a desperate
evil, in a servant to a prince, or a citizen in a republic. For
whatsoever affairs pass such a man's hands, he crooketh them to his
own ends; which must needs be often eccentric to the ends of his
master, or state. Therefore, let princes, or states, choose such
servants, as have not this mark; except they mean their service should
be made but the accessory. That which maketh the effect more
pernicious, is that all proportion is lost. It were disproportion
enough, for the servant's good to be preferred before the master's;
but yet it is a greater extreme, when a little good of the servant,
shall carry things against a great good of the master's. And yet
that is the case of bad officers, treasurers, ambassadors, generals,
and other false and corrupt servants; which set a bias upon their
bowl, of their own petty ends and envies, to the overthrow of their
master's great and important affairs. And for the most part, the
good such servants receive, is after the model of their own fortune;
but the hurt they sell for that good, is after the model of their
master's fortune. And certainly it is the nature of extreme
self-lovers, as they will set an house on fire, and it were but to
roast their eggs; and yet these men many times hold credit with
their masters, because their study is but to please them, and profit
themselves; and for either respect, they will abandon the good of
their affairs.

  Wisdom for a man's self is, in many branches thereof, a depraved
thing. It is the wisdom of rats, that will be sure to leave a house,
somewhat 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
crocodiles, that shed tears when they would devour. But that which
is specially to be noted is, that those which (as Cicero says of
Pompey) are sui amantes, sine rivali, are many times unfortunate.
And whereas they have, all their times, sacrificed to themselves, they
become in the end, themselves sacrifices to the inconstancy of
fortune, whose wings they thought, by their self-wisdom, to have


  As the births of living creatures, at first are ill-shapen so are
all innovations, which are the births of time. Yet notwithstanding, as
those that first bring honor into their family, are commonly more
worthy than most that succeed, so the first precedent (if it be
good) is seldom attained by imitation. For ill, to man's nature, as it
stands perverted, hath a natural motion, strongest in continuance; but
good, as a forced motion, strongest at first. Surely every medicine is
an innovation; and 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 is true, that what is settled
by custom, though it be not good, yet at least it is fit; and those
things which have long gone together, are, as it were, confederate
within themselves; whereas new things piece not so well; but though
they help by their utility, yet they trouble by their inconformity.
Besides, they are like strangers; more admired, and less favored.
All this is true, if time stood still; which contrariwise moveth so
round, that 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, by degrees scarce to be perceived.
For otherwise, whatsoever is new is unlooked for; and ever it mends
some, and pairs others; and he that holpen, takes it for a fortune,
and thanks the time; and he that is hurt, for a wrong, and imputeth it
to the author. It is good also, not to try experiments in states,
except the necessity be urgent, or the utility evident; and well to
beware, that it be the reformation, that draweth on the change, and
not the desire of change, that pretendeth the reformation. And lastly,
that the novelty, though it be not rejected, yet be held for a
suspect; and, as the Scripture saith, that we make a stand upon the
ancient way, and then look about us, and discover what is the straight
and right way, and so to walk in it.


  Affected dispatch is one of the most dangerous things to business
that can be. It is like that, which the physicians call
predigestion, or hasty digestion; which is sure to fill the body
full of crudities, and secret seeds of diseases. Therefore measure not
dispatch, by the times of sitting, but by the advancement of the
business. And as in races it is not the large stride or high lift that
makes the speed; so in business, the keeping close to the matter,
and not taking of it too much at once, procureth dispatch. It is the
care of some, only to come off speedily for the time; or to contrive
some false periods of business, because they may seem men of dispatch.
But it is one thing, to abbreviate by contracting, another by
cutting off. And business so handled, at several sittings or meetings,
goeth commonly backward and forward in an unsteady manner. I knew a
wise man that had it for a byword, when he saw men hasten to a
conclusion, Stay a little, that we may make an end the sooner.

  On the other side, true dispatch is a rich thing. For time is the
measure of business, as money is of wares; and business is bought at a
dear hand, where there is small dispatch. The Spartans and Spaniards
have been noted to be of small dispatch; Mi venga la muerte de Spagna;
Let my death come from Spain; for then it will be sure to be long in

  Give good hearing to those, that give the first information in
business; and rather direct them in the beginning, than interrupt them
in the continuance of their speeches; for he that is put out of his
own order, will go forward and backward, and be more tedious, while he
waits upon his memory, than he could have been, if he had gone on in
his own course. But sometimes it is seen, that the moderator is more
troublesome, than the actor.

  Iterations are commonly loss of time. But there is no such gain of
time, as to iterate often the state of the question; for it chaseth
away many a frivolous speech, as it is coming forth. Long and
curious speeches, are as fit for dispatch, as a robe or mantle, with a
long train, is for race. Prefaces and passages, and excusations, and
other speeches of reference to the person, are great wastes of time;
and though they seem to proceed of modesty, they are bravery. Yet
beware of being too material, when there is any impediment or
obstruction in men's wills; for pre-occupation of mind ever
requireth preface of speech; like a fomentation to make the unguent

  Above all things, order, and distribution, and singling out of
parts, is the life of dispatch; so as the distribution be not too
subtle: for he that doth not divide, will never enter well into
business; and he that divideth too much, will never come out of it
clearly. To choose time, is to save time; and an unseasonable
motion, is but beating the air. There be three parts of business;
the preparation, the debate or examination, and the perfection.
Whereof, if you look for dispatch, let the middle only be the work
of many, and the first and last the work of few. The proceeding upon
somewhat conceived in writing, doth for the most part facilitate
dispatch: for though it should be wholly rejected, yet that negative
is more pregnant of direction, than an indefinite; as ashes are more
generative than dust.


  It hath been an opinion, that the French are wiser than they seem,
and the Spaniards seem wiser than they are. But howsoever it be
between nations, certainly it is so between man and man. For as the
Apostle saith of godliness, Having a show of godliness, but denying
the power thereof; so certainly there are, in point of wisdom and
sufficiently, that do nothing or little very solemnly: magno conatu
nugas. It is a ridiculous thing, and fit for a satire to persons of
judgment, to see what shifts these formalists have, and what
prospectives to make superficies to seem body, that hath depth and
bulk. Some are so close and reserved, as they will not show 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. Some help themselves with countenance and
gesture, and are wise by signs; as Cicero saith of Piso, that when
he answered him he fetched one of his brows up to his forehead, and
bent the other down to his chin; Respondes, altero ad frontem sublato,
altero ad mentum depresso supercilio, crudelitatem tibi non placere.
Some think to bear it by speaking a great word, and being
peremptory; and go on, and take by admittance, that which they
cannot make good. Some, whatsoever is beyond their reach, will seem to
despise, or make light of it, as impertinent or curious; and so
would have their ignorance seem judgment. Some are never without a
difference, and commonly by amusing men with a subtilty, blanch the
matter; of whom A. Gellius saith, Hominem delirum, qui verborum
minutiis rerum frangit pondera. Of which kind also, Plato, in his
Protagoras, bringeth in Prodius in scorn, and maketh him make a
speech, that consisteth of distinction from the beginning to the
end. Generally, 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. To conclude, there is no
decaying merchant, or inward beggar, hath so many tricks to uphold the
credit of their wealth, as these empty persons have, to maintain the
credit of their sufficiency. Seeming wise men may make shift to get
opinion; but let no man choose them for employment; for certainly
you were better take for business, a man somewhat absurd, than


  It had been hard for him that spake it to have put more truth and
untruth together in few words, than in that speech. Whatsoever is
delighted in solitude, is either a wild beast or a god. For it is most
true, that a natural and secret hatred, and aversation towards
society, in any man, hath somewhat of the savage beast; but it is most
untrue, that it should have any character at all, of the divine
nature; except it proceed, not out of a pleasure in solitude, but
out of a love and desire to sequester a man's self, for a higher
conversation: such as is found to have been falsely and feignedly in
some of the heathen; as Epimenides the Candian, Numa the Roman,
Empedocles the Sicilian, and Apollonius of Tyana; and truly and
really, in divers of the ancient hermits and holy fathers of the
church. But little do men perceive what solitude is, and how far it
extendeth. For a crowd is not company; and faces are but a gallery
of pictures; and talk but a tinkling cymbal, where there is no love.
The Latin adage meeteth with it a little: Magna civitas, magna
solitudo; because in a great town friends are scattered; so that there
is not that fellowship, for the most part, which is in less
neighborhoods. But we may go further, and affirm most truly, that it
is a mere and miserable solitude to want true friends; without which
the world is but a wilderness; and even in this sense 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

  A principal fruit of friendship, is the ease and discharge of the
fulness and swellings of the heart, which passions of all kinds do
cause and induce. We know diseases of stoppings, and suffocations, are
the most dangerous in the body; and it is not much otherwise in the
mind; you may take sarza to open the liver, steel to open the
spleen, flowers of sulphur for the lungs, castoreum for the brain; but
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.

  It is a strange thing to observe, how high a rate great kings and
monarchs do set upon this fruit of friendship, whereof we speak: so
great, as they purchase it, many times, at the hazard of their own
safety and greatness. For princes, in regard of the distance of
their fortune from that of their subjects and servants, cannot
gather this fruit, except (to make themselves capable thereof) they
raise some persons to be, as it were, companions and almost equals
to themselves, which many times sorteth to inconvenience. The modern
languages give unto such persons the name of favorites, or
privadoes; as if it were matter of grace, or conversation. But the
Roman name attaineth the true use and cause thereof, naming them
participes curarum; for it is that which tieth the knot. And we see
plainly that this hath been done, not by weak and passionate princes
only, but by the wisest and most politic that ever reigned; who have
oftentimes joined to themselves some of their servants; whom both
themselves have called friends, and allowed other likewise to call
them in the same manner; using the word which is received between
private men.

  L. Sylla, when he commanded Rome, raised Pompey (after surnamed
the Great) to that height, that Pompey vaunted himself for Sylla's
overmatch. For when he had carried the consulship for a friend of his,
against the pursuit of Sylla, and that Sylla did a little resent
thereat, and began to speak great, Pompey turned upon him again, and
in effect bade him be quiet; for that more men adored the sun
rising, than the sun setting. With Julius Caesar, Decimus Brutus had
obtained that interest, as he set him down, in his testament, for heir
in remainder, after his nephew. And this was the man that had power
with him, to draw him forth to his death. For when Caesar would have
discharged the senate, in regard of some ill presages, and specially a
dream of Calpurnia; this man lifted him gently by the arm out of his
chair, telling him he hoped he would not dismiss the senate, till
his wife had dreamt a better dream. And it seemeth his favor was so
great, as Antonius, in a letter which is recited verbatim in one of
Cicero's Philippics, calleth him venefica, witch; as if he had
enchanted Caesar. Augustus raised Agrippa (though of mean birth) to
that height, as when he consulted with Maecenas, about the marriage of
his daughter Julia, Maecenas took the liberty to tell him, that he
must either marry his daughter to Agrippa, or take away his life;
there was no third war, he had made him so great. With Tiberius
Caesar, Sejanus had ascended to that height, as they two were
termed, and reckoned, as a pair of friends. Tiberius in a letter to
him saith, Haec pro amicitia nostra non occultavi; and the whole
senate dedicated an altar to Friendship, as to a goddess, in respect
of the great dearness of friendship, between them two. The like, or
more, was between Septimius Severus and Plautianus. For he forced
his eldest son to marry the daughter of Plautianus; and would often
maintain Plautianus, in doing affronts to his son; and did write
also in a letter to the senate, by these words: I love the man so
well, as I wish he may over-live me. Now if these princes had been
as a Trajan, or a Marcus Aurelius, a man might have thought that
this had proceeded of an abundant goodness of nature; but being men so
wise, of such strength and severity of mind, and so extreme lovers
of themselves, as all these were, it proveth most plainly that they
found their own felicity (though as great as ever happened to mortal
men) but as an half piece, except they mought have a friend, to make
it entire; and yet, which is more, they were princes that had wives,
sons, nephews; and yet all these could not supply the comfort of

  It is not to be forgotten, what Comineus observeth of his first
master, Duke Charles the Hardy, namely, that he would communicate
his secrets with none; and least of all, those secrets which
troubled him most. Whereupon he goeth on, and saith that towards his
latter time, that closeness did impair, and a little perish his
understanding. Surely Comineus mought have made the same judgment
also, if it had pleased him, of his second master, Lewis the Eleventh,
whose closeness was indeed his tormentor. The parable of Pythagoras is
dark, but true; Cor ne edito; Eat not the heart. Certainly if a man
would give it a hard phrase, those that want friends, to open
themselves unto are cannibals of their own hearts. But one thing is
most admirable (wherewith I will conclude this first fruit of
friendship), which is, that this communicating of a man's self to
his friend, works two contrary effects; for it redoubleth joys, and
cutteth griefs in halves. 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. So that it is in
truth, of operation upon a man's mind, of like virtue as the
alchemists use to attribute to their stone, for man's body; that it
worketh all contrary effects, but still to the good and benefit of
nature. But yet without praying in aid of alchemists, there is a
manifest image of this, in the ordinary course of nature. For in
bodies, union strengtheneth and cherisheth any natural action; and
on the other side, weakeneth and dulleth any violent impression: and
even so it is of minds.

  The second fruit of friendship, is healthful and sovereign for the
understanding, as the first is for the affections. For friendship
maketh indeed a fair day in the affections, from storm and tempests;
but it maketh daylight in the understanding, out of darkness, and
confusion of thoughts. Neither is this to be understood only of
faithful counsel, which a man receiveth from his friend; but before
you come to that, certain it is, that 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
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 hour's discourse,
than by a day's meditation. It was well said by Themistocles, to the
king of Persia, That speech was like cloth of Arras, opened and put
abroad; whereby the imagery doth appear in figure; whereas in thoughts
they lie but as in packs. Neither is this second fruit of
friendship, in opening the understanding, restrained only to such
friends as are able to give a man counsel; (they indeed are best;) but
even without that, a man learneth of himself, and bringeth his own
thoughts to light, and whetteth his wits as against a stone, which
itself cuts not. In a word, a man were better relate himself to a
statua, or picture, than to suffer his thoughts to pass in smother.

  Add now, to make this second fruit of friendship complete, that
other point, which lieth more open, and falleth within vulgar
observation; which is faithful counsel from a friend. 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 as 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 man's self; and there is no such remedy against
flattery of a man's self, as the liberty of a friend. 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 man's
self to a strict account, is a medicine, sometime 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: for, as St. James
saith, they are as men that look sometimes into a glass, and presently
forget their own shape and favor. As for 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; or that a man in anger, is as wise
as he that hath said over the four and twenty letters; or that a
musket may be shot off as well upon the arm, as upon a rest; and
such other fond and high imaginations, to think himself all in all.
But when all is done, the help of good counsel is that which setteth
business straight. And if any man think that he will take counsel, but
it shall be by pieces; asking counsel in one business, of one man, and
in another business, of another man; it is well (that is to say,
better, perhaps, than if he asked none at all); but he runneth two
dangers: one, that he shall not be faithfully counselled; for it is
a rare thing, except it be from a perfect and entire friend, to have
counsel given, but such as shall be bowed and crooked to some ends,
which he hath, that giveth it. The other, that he shall have counsel
given, hurtful and unsafe (though with good meaning), and mixed partly
of mischief and partly of remedy; even as if you would call a
physician, that is thought good for the cure of the disease you
complain of, but is unacquainted with your body; and therefore may put
you in way for a present cure, but overthroweth your health in some
other kind; and so cure the disease, and kill the patient. But a
friend that is wholly acquainted with a man's estate, will beware,
by furthering any present business, how he dasheth upon other
inconvenience. And therefore rest not upon scattered counsels; they
will rather distract and mislead, than settle and direct.

  After these two noble fruits of friendship (peace in the affections,
and support of the judgment), followeth the last fruit; which is
like the pomegranate, full of many kernels; I mean aid, and bearing
a part, in all actions and occasions. Here the best way to represent
to life the manifold use of friendship, is to cast and see how many
things there are, which a man cannot do himself; and then it will
appear, that it was a sparing speech of the ancients, to say, that a
friend is another himself; for that a friend is far more than himself.
Men have their time, and die many times, in desire of some things
which they principally take to heart; the bestowing of a child, the
finishing of a work, or the like. If a man have a true friend, he
may rest almost secure that the care of those things will continue
after him. So that a man hath, as it were, two lives in his desires. 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 friend's mouth, which are blushing in a man's
own. So again, a man's person hath many proper relations, which he
cannot put off. A man cannot speak to his son but as a father; to
his wife but as a husband; to his enemy but upon terms: whereas a
friend may speak as the case requires, and not as it sorteth with
the person. But to enumerate these things were endless; I have given
the rule, where a man cannot fitly play his own part; if he have not a
friend, he may quit the stage.


  Riches are for spending, and spending for honor and good actions.
Therefore extraordinary expense must be limited by the worth of the
occasion; for voluntary undoing, may be as well for a man's country,
as for the kingdom of heaven. But ordinary expense, ought to be
limited by a man's estate; and governed with such regard, as it be
within his compass; and not subject to deceit and abuse of servants;
and ordered to the best show, that the bills may be less than the
estimation abroad. 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 behooveth 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. In
clearing of a man's estate, he may as well hurt himself in being too
sudden, as in letting it run on too long. For hasty selling, is
commonly as disadvantageable as interest. Besides, he that clears at
once will relapse; for finding himself out of straits, he will
revert to his custom: but he that cleareth by degrees, induceth a
habit of frugality, and gaineth as well upon his mind, as upon his
estate. Certainly, who hath a state to repair, may not despise small
things; and commonly it is less dishonorable, to abridge petty
charges, than to stoop to petty gettings. A man ought warily to
begin charges which once begun will continue; but in matters that
return not, he may be more magnificent.


  The speech of Themistocles the Athenian, which was haughty and
arrogant, in taking so much to himself, had been a grave and wise
observation and censure, applied at large to others. Desired at a
feast to touch a lute, he said, He could not fiddle, but yet he
could make a small town, a great city. These words (holpen a little
with a metaphor) may express two differing abilities, in those that
deal in business of estate. For if a true survey be taken of
counsellors and statesmen, there may be found (though rarely) those
which can make a small state great, and yet cannot fiddle; as on the
other side, there will be found a great many, that can fiddle very
cunningly, but yet are so far from being able to make a small state
great, as their gift lieth the other way; to bring a great and
flourishing estate, to ruin and decay. And certainly whose
degenerate arts and shifts, whereby many counsellors and governors
gain both favor with their masters, and estimation with the vulgar,
deserve no better name than fiddling; being things rather pleasing for
the time, and graceful to themselves only, than tending to the weal
and advancement of the state which they serve. There are also (no
doubt) counsellors and governors which may be held sufficient
(negotiis pares), able to manage affairs, and to keep them from
precipices and manifest inconveniences; which nevertheless are far
from the ability to raise and amplify an estate in power, means, and
fortune. But be the workmen what they may be, let us speak of the
work; that is, the true greatness of kingdoms and estates, and the
means thereof. An argument fit for great and mighty princes to have in
their hand; to the end that neither by over-measuring their forces,
they leese themselves in vain enterprises; nor on the other side, by
undervaluing them, they descend to fearful and pusillanimous counsels.

  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 any thing amongst civil affairs more subject to error, than the
right valuation and true judgment concerning the power and forces of
an estate. The kingdom of heaven is compared, not to any great
kernel or nut, but to a grain of mustard-seed: which is one of the
least grains, but hath in it a property and spirit hastily to get up
and spread. So are there states, great in territory, and yet not apt
to enlarge or command; and some that have but a small dimension of
stem, and yet apt to be the foundations of great monarchies.

  Walled towns, stored arsenals and armoiies, goodly races of horse,
chariots of war, elephants, ordnance, artillery, and the like; all
this is but a sheep in a lion's skin, except the breed and disposition
of the people, be stout and warlike. Nay, number (itself) in armies
importeth not much, where the people is of weak courage; for (as
Virgil saith) It never troubles a wolf, how many the sheep be. The
army of the Persians, in the plains of Arbela, was such a vast sea
of people, as it did somewhat astonish the commanders in Alexander's
army; who came to him therefore, and wished him to set upon them by
night; and he answered, He would not pilfer the victory. And the
defeat was easy. When Tigranes the Armenian, being encamped upon a
hill with four hundred thousand men, discovered the army of the
Romans, being not above fourteen thousand, marching towards him, he
made himself merry with it, and said, Yonder men are too many for an
embassage, and too few for a fight. But before the sun set, he found
them enow to give him the chase with infinite slaughter. Many are
the examples of the great odds, between number and courage; so that
a man may truly make a judgment, that the principal point of greatness
in any state, is to have a race of military men. Neither is money
the sinews of war (as it is trivially said), where the sinews of men's
arms, in base and effeminate people, are failing. For Solon said
well to Croesus (when in ostentation he showed him his gold), Sir,
if any other come, that hath better iron, than you, he will be
master of all this gold. Therefore let any prince or state think
solely of his forces, except his militia of natives be of good and
valiant soldiers. And let princes, on the other side, that have
subjects of martial disposition, know their own strength; unless
they be otherwise wanting unto themselves. As for mercenary forces
(which is the help in this case), all examples show, that whatsoever
estate or prince doth rest upon them, he may spread his feathers for a
time, but he will mew them soon after.

  The blessing of Judah and Issachar will never meet; that the same
people, or nation, should be both the lion's whelp and the ass between
burthens; neither will it be, that a people overlaid with taxes,
should ever become valiant and martial. It is true that taxes levied
by consent of the estate, do abate men's courage less: as it hath been
seen notably, in the excises of the Low Countries; and, in some
degree, in the subsidies of England. For you must note, that we
speak now of the heart, and not of the purse. So that although the
same tribute and tax, laid by consent or by imposing, be all one to
the purse, yet it works diversely upon the courage. So that you may
conclude, that no people overcharged with tribute, is fit for empire.

  Let states that aim at greatness, take heed how their nobility and
gentlemen do multiply too fast. For that maketh the common subject,
grow to be a peasant and base swain, driven out of heart, and in
effect but the gentleman's laborer. Even as you may see in coppice
woods; if you leave your staddles too thick, you shall never have
clean underwood, but shrubs and bushes. So in countries, if the
gentlemen be too many, commons will be base; and you will bring it
to that, that not the hundred poll, will be fit for an helmet;
especially as to the infantry, which is the nerve of an army; and so
there will be great population, and little strength. This which I
speak of, hath been nowhere better seen, than by comparing of
England and France; whereof England, though far less in territory
and population, hath been (nevertheless) an overmatch; in regard the
middle people of England make good soldiers, which the peasants of
France do not. And herein the device of king Henry the Seventh
(whereof I have spoken largely in the History of his Life) was
profound and admirable; in making farms and houses of husbandry of a
standard; that is, maintained with such a proportion of land unto
them, as may breed a subject to live in convenient plenty and no
servile condition; and to keep the plough in the hands of the
owners, and not mere hirelings. And thus indeed you shall attain to
Virgil's character which he gives to ancient Italy:

         Terra potens armis atque ubere glebae.

Neither is that state (which, for any thing I know, is almost peculiar
to England, and hardly to be found anywhere else, except it be perhaps
in Poland) to be passed over; I mean the state of free servants, and
attendants upon noblemen and gentlemen; which are no ways inferior
unto the yeomanry for arms. And therefore out of all questions, the
splendor and magnificence, and great retinues and hospitality, of
noblemen and gentlemen, received into custom, doth much conduce unto
martial greatness. Whereas, contrariwise, the close and reserved
living of noblemen and gentlemen, causeth a penury of military forces.

  By all means it is to be procured, that the trunk of
Nebuchadnezzar's tree of monarchy, be great enough to bear the
branches and the boughs; that is, that the natural subjects of the
crown or state, bear a sufficient proportion to the stranger subjects,
that they govern. Therefore all states that are liberal of
naturalization towards strangers, are fit for empire. For to think
that an handful of people can, with the greatest courage and policy in
the world, embrace too large extent of dominion, it may hold for a
time, but it will fail suddenly. The Spartans were a nice people in
point of naturalization; whereby, while they kept their compass,
they stood firm; but when they did spread, and their boughs were
becomen too great for their stem, they became a windfall, upon the
sudden. Never any state was in this point so open to receive strangers
into their body, as were the Romans. Therefore it sorted with them
accordingly; for they grew to the greatest monarchy. Their manner
was to grant naturalization (which they called jus civitatis), and
to grant it in the highest degree; that is, not only jus commercii,
jus connubii, jus haereditatis; but also jus suffragii, and jus
honorum. And this not to singular persons alone, but likewise to whole
families; yea to cities, and sometimes to nations. Add to this their
custom of plantation of colonies; whereby the Roman plant was
removed into the soil of other nations. And putting both constitutions
together, you will say that it was not the Romans that spread upon the
world, but it was the world that spread upon the Romans; and that
was the sure way of greatness. I have marvelled, sometimes, at
Spain, how they clasp and contain so large dominions, with so few
natural Spaniards; but sure the whole compass of Spain, is a very
great body of a tree; far above Rome and Sparta at the first. And
besides, though they have not had that usage, to naturalize liberally,
yet they have that which is next to it; that is, to employ, almost
indifferently, all nations in their militia of ordinary soldiers; yea,
and sometimes in their highest commands. Nay, it seemeth at this
instant they are sensible, of this want of natives; as by the
Pragmatical Sanction, now published, appeareth.

  It is certain that sedentary, and within-door arts, and delicate
manufactures (that require rather the finger than the arm), have, in
their nature, a contrariety to a military disposition. And
generally, all warlike people are a little idle, and love danger
better than travail. Neither must they be too much broken of it, if
they shall be preserved in vigor. Therefore it was great advantage, in
the ancient states of Sparta, Athens, Rome, and others, that they
had the use of slaves, which commonly did rid those manufactures.
But that is abolished in greatest part, by the Christian law. That
which cometh nearest to it, is to leave those arts chiefly to
strangers (which, for that purpose, are the more easily to be
received), and to contain the principal bulk of the vulgar natives,
within those three kinds,-tillers of the ground; free servants; and
handicraftsmen of strong and manly arts, as smiths, masons,
carpenters, etc.; not reckoning professed soldiers.

  But above all, for empire and greatness, it importeth most, that a
nation do profess arms, as their principal honor, study, and
occupation. For the things which we formerly have spoken of, are but
habilitations towards arms; and what is habilitation without intention
and act? Romulus, after his death (as they report or feign), sent a
present to the Romans, that above all, they should intend arms; and
then they should prove the greatest empire of the world. The fabric of
the state of Sparta was wholly (though not wisely) framed and
composed, to that scope and end. The Persians and Macedonians had it
for a flash. The Gauls, Germans, Goths, Saxons, Normans, and others,
had it for a time. The Turks have it at this day, though in great
declination. Of Christian Europe, they that have it are, in effect,
only the Spaniards. But it is so plain, that every man profiteth in
that, he most intendeth, that it needeth not to be stood upon. It is
enough to point at it; that no nation which doth not directly
profess arms, may look to have greatness fall into their mouths. And
on the other side, it is a most certain oracle of time, that those
states that continue long in that profession (as the Romans and
Turks principally have done) do wonders. And those that have professed
arms but for an age, have, notwithstanding, commonly attained that
greatness, in that age, which maintained them long after, when their
profession and exercise of arms hath grown to decay.

  Incident to this point is, for a state to have those laws or
customs, which may reach forth unto them just occasions (as may be
pretended) of war. For there is that justice, imprinted in the
nature of men, that they enter not upon wars (whereof so many
calamities do ensue) but upon some, at the least specious, grounds and
quarrels. The Turk hath at hand, for cause of war, the propagation
of his law or sect; a quarrel that he may always command. The
Romans, though they esteemed the extending the limits of their empire,
to be great honor to their generals, when it was done, yet they
never rested upon that alone, to begin a war. First, therefore, let
nations that pretend to greatness have this; that they be sensible
of wrongs, either upon borderers, merchants, or politic ministers; and
that they sit not too long upon a provocation. Secondly, let them be
prest, and ready to give aids and succors, to their confederates; as
it ever was with the Romans; insomuch, as if the confederate had
leagues defensive, with divers other states, and, upon invasion
offered, did implore their aids severally, yet the Romans would ever
be the foremost, and leave it to none other to have the honor. As
for the wars which were anciently made, on the behalf of a kind of
party, or tacit conformity of estate, I do not see how they may be
well justified: as when the Romans made a war, for the liberty of
Grecia; or when the Lacedaemonians and Athenians, made wars to set
up or pull down democracies and oligarchies; or when wars were made by
foreigners, under the pretence of justice or protection, to deliver
the subjects of others, from tyranny and oppression; and the like. Let
it suffice, that no estate expect to be great, that is not awake
upon any just occasion of arming.

  No body can be healthful without exercise, neither natural body
nor politic; and certainly to a kingdom or estate, a just and
honorable war, is the true exercise. A civil war, indeed, is like
the heat of a fever; but a foreign war is like the heat of exercise,
and serveth to keep the body in health; for in a slothful peace,
both courages will effeminate, and manners corrupt. But howsoever it
be for happiness, without all question, for greatness, it maketh to be
still for the most part in arms; and the strength of a veteran army
(though it be a chargeable business) always on foot, is that which
commonly giveth the law, or at least the reputation, amongst all
neighbor states; as may well be seen in Spain, which hath had, in
one part or other, a veteran army almost continually, now by the space
of six score years.

  To be master of the sea, is an abridgment of a monarchy. Cicero,
writing to Atticus of Pompey his preparation against Caesar, saith,
Consilium Pompeii plane Themistocleum est; putat enim, qui mari
potitur, eum rerum potiri. And, without doubt, Pompey had tired out
Caesar, if upon vain confidence, he had not left that way. We see
the great effects of battles by sea. The battle of Actium, decided the
empire of the world. The battle of Lepanto, arrested the greatness
of the Turk. There be many examples, where sea-fights have been
final to the war; but this is when princes or states have set up their
rest, upon the battles. But thus much is certain, that he that
commands the seal is at great liberty, and may take as much, and as
little, of the war as he will. Whereas those that be strongest by
land, are many times nevertheless in great straits. Surely, at this
day, with us of Europe, the vantage of strength at sea (which is one
of the principal dowries of this kingdom of Great Britain) is great;
both because most of the kingdoms of Europe, are not merely inland,
but girt with the sea most part of their compass; and because the
wealth of both Indies seems in great part, but an accessory to the
command of the seas.

  The wars of latter ages seem to be made in the dark, in respect of
the glory, and honor, which reflected upon men from the wars, in
ancient time. There be now, for martial encouragement, some degrees
and orders of chivalry; which nevertheless are conferred
promiscuously, upon soldiers and no soldiers; and some remembrance
perhaps, upon the scutcheon; and some hospitals for maimed soldiers;
and such like things. But in ancient times, the trophies erected
upon the place of the victory; the funeral laudatives and monuments
for those that died in the wars; the crowns and garlands personal; the
style of emperor, which the great kings of the world after borrowed;
the triumphs of the generals, upon their return; the great donatives
and largesses, upon the disbanding of the armies; were things able
to inflame all men's courages. But above all, that of the triumph,
amongst the Romans, was not pageants or gaudery, but one of the wisest
and noblest institutions, that ever was. For it contained three
things: honor to the general; riches to the treasury out of the
spoils; and donatives to the army. But that honor, perhaps were not
fit for monarchies; except it be in the person of the monarch himself,
or his sons; as it came to pass in the times of the Roman emperors,
who did impropriate the actual triumphs to themselves, and their sons,
for such wars as they did achieve in person; and left only, for wars
achieved by subjects, some triumphal garments and ensigns to the

  To conclude: no man can by care taking (as the Scripture saith)
add a cubit to his stature, in this little model of a man's 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.


  There is a wisdom in this; beyond the rules of physic: a man's own
observation, what he finds good of, and what he finds hurt of, is
the best physic to preserve health. But it is a safer conclusion to
say, This agreeth not well with me, therefore, I will not continue it;
than this, I find no offence of this, therefore I may use it. For
strength of nature in youth, passeth over many excesses, which are
owing a man till his age. Discern of the coming on of years, and think
not to do the same things still; for age will not be defied. Beware of
sudden change, in any great point of diet, and, if necessity inforce
it, fit the rest to it. For it is a secret both in nature and state,
that it is safer to change many things, than one. Examine thy
customs of diet, sleep, exercise, apparel, and the like; and try, in
any thing thou shalt judge hurtful, to discontinue it, by little and
little; but so, as if thou dost find any inconvenience by the
change, thou come back to it again: for it is hard to distinguish that
which is generally held good and wholesome, from that which is good
particularly, and fit for thine own body. 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.
Despise no new accident in your body, but ask opinion of it. In
sickness, respect health principally; and in health, action. For those
that put their bodies to endure in health, may in most sicknesses,
which are not very sharp, be cured only with diet, and tendering.
Celsus could never have spoken it as a physician, had he not been a
wise man withal, when he giveth it for one of the great precepts of
health and lasting, that a man do vary, and interchange contraries,
but with an inclination to the more benign extreme: use fasting and
full eating, but rather full eating; watching and sleep, but rather
sleep; sitting and exercise, but rather exercise; and the like. So
shall nature be cherished, and yet taught masteries. Physicians are,
some of them, so pleasing and conformable to the humor of the patient,
as they press not the true cure of the disease; and some other 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 reputed of for his faculty.


  Suspicions amongst thoughts, are like bats amongst birds, they
ever fly by twilight. Certainly they are to be repressed, or at
least well guarded: for they cloud the mind; they leese 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; as in the example of Henry the Seventh of England. There
was not a more suspicious man, nor a more stout. And in such a
composition they do small hurt. For commonly they are not admitted,
but with examination, whether they be likely or no. But in fearful
natures they gain ground too fast. 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. What would men have? Do they think, those
they employ and deal with, are saints? Do they not think, they will
have their own ends, and be truer to themselves, than to them?
Therefore there is no better way, to moderate suspicions, than to
account upon such suspicions as true, and yet to bridle them as false.
For so far a man ought to make use of suspicions, as to provide, as if
that should be true, that he suspects, yet it may do him no hurt.
Suspicions that the mind of itself gathers, are but buzzes; but
suspicions that are artificially nourished, and put into men's
heads, by the tales and whisperings of others, have stings. Certainly,
the best mean, to clear the way in this same wood of suspicions, is
frankly to communicate them with the party, that he suspects; for
thereby he shall be sure to know more of the truth of them, than he
did before; and withal shall make that party more circumspect, not
to give further cause of suspicion. But this would not be done to
men of base natures; for they, if they find themselves once suspected,
will never be true. The Italian says, Sospetto licentia fede; as if
suspicion, did give a passport to faith; but it ought, rather, to
kindle it to discharge itself.


  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. The honorablest 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, any thing too far. As for jest, there be certain things,
which ought to be privileged from it; namely, religion, matters of
state, great persons, any man's 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:

        Parce, puer, stimulis, et fortius utere loris.

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. 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. If
you dissemble, sometimes, your knowledge of that you are thought to
know, you shall be thought, another time, to know that you know not.
Speech of a man's 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. I knew two noblemen, of the west part of England,
whereof the one was given to scoff, but kept ever royal cheer in his
house; the other would ask, of those that had been at the other's
table, Tell truly, was there never a flout or dry blow given? To which
the guest would answer, Such and such a thing passed. The lord would
say, I thought, he would mar a good dinner. Discretion of speech, is
more than eloquence; and to speak agreeably 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. As we see in beasts, that
those that are weakest in the course, are yet nimblest in the turn; as
it is betwixt the greyhound and the hare. To use too many
circumstances, ere one come to the matter, is wearisome; to use none
at all, is blunt.


  Plantations are amongst ancient, primitive, and heroical works. When
the world was young, it begat more children; but now it is old, it
begets fewer: for I may justly account new plantations, to be the
children of former kingdoms. I like a plantation in a pure soil;
that is, where people are not displanted, to the end, to plant in
others. For else it is rather an extirpation, than a plantation.
Planting of countries, is like planting of woods; for you must make
account to leese almost twenty years'profit, and expect your
recompense in the end. For the principal thing, that hath been the
destruction of most plantations, hath been the base and hasty
drawing of profit, in the first years. It is true, speedy profit is
not to be neglected, as far as may stand with the good of the
plantation, but no further. It is a shameful and unblessed thing, to
take the scum of people, and wicked condemned men, to be the people
with whom you plant; and not only so, but it spoileth the
plantation; for they will ever live like rogues, and not fall to work,
but be lazy, and do mischief, and spend victuals, and be quickly
weary, and then certify over to their country, to the discredit of the
plantation. The people wherewith you plant ought to be gardeners,
ploughmen, laborers, smiths, carpenters, joiners, fishermen,
fowlers, with some few apothecaries, surgeons, cooks, and bakers. In a
country of plantation, first look about, what kind of victual the
country yields of itself to hand; as chestnuts, walnuts, pineapples,
olives, dates, plums, cherries, wild honey, and the like; and make use
of them. Then consider what victual or esculent things there are,
which grow speedily, and within the year; as parsnips, carrots,
turnips, onions, radish, artichokes of Hierusalem, maize, and the
like. For wheat, barley, and oats, they ask too much labor; but with
pease and beans you may begin, both because they ask less labor, and
because they serve for meat, as well as for bread. And of rice,
likewise cometh a great increase, and it is a kind of meat. Above all,
there ought to be brought store of biscuit, oat-meal, flour, meal, and
the like, in the beginning, till bread may be had. For beasts, or
birds, take chiefly such as are least subject to diseases, and
multiply fastest; as swine, goats, cocks, hens, turkeys, geese,
house-doves, and the like. The victual in plantations, ought to be
expended almost as in a besieged town; that is, with certain
allowance. And let the main part of the ground, employed to gardens or
corn, be to a common stock; and to be laid in, and stored up, and then
delivered out in proportion; besides some spots of ground, that any
particular person will manure for his own private. Consider likewise
what commodities, the soil where the plantation is, doth naturally
yield, that they may some way help to defray the charge of the
plantation (so it be not, as was said, to the untimely prejudice of
the main business), as it hath fared with tobacco in Virginia. Wood
commonly aboundeth but too much; and therefore timber is fit to be
one. If there be iron ore, and streams whereupon to set the mills,
iron is a brave commodity where wood aboundeth. Making of bay-salt, if
the climate be proper for it, would be put in experience. Growing silk
likewise, if any be, is a likely commodity. Pitch and tar, where store
of firs and pines are, will not fail. So drugs and sweet woods,
where they are, cannot but yield great profit. Soap-ashes likewise,
and other things that may be thought of. But moil not too much under
ground; for the hope of mines is very uncertain, and useth to make the
planters lazy, in other things. For government, let it be in the hands
of one, assisted with some counsel; and let them have commission to
exercise martial laws, with some limitation. And above all, let men
make that profit, of being in the wilderness, as they have God always,
and his service, before their eyes. Let not the government of the
plantation, depend upon too many counsellors, and undertakers, in
the country that planteth, but upon a temperate number; and let
those be rather noblemen and gentlemen, than merchants; for they
look ever to the present gain. Let there be freedom from custom,
till the plantation be of strength; and not only freedom from
custom, but freedom to carry their commodities, where they may make
their best of them, except there be some special cause of caution.
Cram not in people, by sending too fast company after company; but
rather harken how they waste, and send supplies proportionably; but
so, as the number may live well in the plantation, and not by
surcharge be in penury. It hath been a great endangering to the health
of some plantations, that they have built along the sea and rivers, in
marish and unwholesome grounds. Therefore, though you begin there,
to avoid carriage and like discommodities, yet build still rather
upwards from the streams, than along. It concerneth likewise the
health of the plantation, that they have good store of salt with them,
that they may use it in their victuals, when it shall be necessary. If
you plant where savages are, do not only entertain them, with
trifles and gingles, but use them justly and graciously, with
sufficient guard nevertheless; and do not win their favor, by
helping them to invade their enemies, but for their defence it is
not amiss; and send oft of them, over to the country that plants, that
they may see a better condition than their own, and commend it when
they return. When the plantation grows to strength, then it is time to
plant with women, as well as with men; that the plantation may
spread into generations, and not be ever pieced from without. It is
the sinfullest thing in the world, to forsake or destitute a
plantation once in forwardness; for besides the dishonor, it is the
guiltiness of blood of many commiserable persons.


  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 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. Do you not see what feigned prices, are set upon
little stones and rarities? and what works of ostentation are
undertaken, because there might seem to be some use of great riches?
But then you will say, they may be of use, to buy men out of dangers
or troubles. As Solomon saith, Riches are as a strong hold, in the
imagination of the rich man. But this is excellently expressed, that
it is in imagination, and not always in fact. For certainly great
riches, have sold more men, than they have bought out. Seek not
proud riches, but such as thou mayest get justly, use soberly,
distribute cheerfully, and leave contentedly. Yet have no abstract nor
friarly contempt of them. But distinguish, as Cicero saith well of
Rabirius Posthumus, In studio rei amplificandae apparebat, non
avaritiae praedam, sed instrumentum bonitati quaeri. Harken also to
Solomon, and beware of hasty gathering of riches; Qui festinat ad
divitias, non erit insons. The poets feign, that when Plutus (which is
Riches) is sent from Jupiter, he limps and goes slowly; but when he is
sent from Pluto, he runs, and is swift of foot. Meaning that riches
gotten by good means, and just labor, pace slowly; but when they
come by the death of others (as by the course of inheritance,
testaments, and the like), they come tumbling upon a man. But it
mought be applied likewise to Pluto, taking him for the devil. For
when riches come from the devil (as by fraud and oppression, and
unjust means), they come upon speed. The ways to enrich are many,
and most of them foul. Parsimony is one of the best, and yet is not
innocent; for it withholdeth men from works of liberality and charity.
The improvement of the ground, is the most natural obtaining of
riches; for it is our great mother's blessing, the earth's; but it
is slow. And yet where men of great wealth do stoop to husbandry, it
multiplieth riches exceedingly. I knew a nobleman in England, that had
the greatest audits of any man in my time; a great grazier, a great
sheep-master, a great timber man, a great collier, a great
corn-master, a great lead-man, and so of iron, and a number of the
like points of husbandry. So as the earth seemed a sea to him, in
respect of the perpetual importation. It was truly observed by one,
that himself came very hardly, to a little riches, and very easily, to
great riches. For when a man's stock is come to that, that he can
expect the prime of markets, and overcome those bargains, which for
their greatness are few men's money, and be partner in the
industries of younger men, he cannot but increase mainly. The gains of
ordinary trades and vocations are honest; and furthered by two
things chiefly: by diligence, and by a good name, for good and fair
dealing. But the gains of bargains, are of a more doubtful nature;
when men shall wait upon others' necessity, broke by servants and
instruments to draw them on, put off others cunningly, that would be
better chapmen, and the like practices, which are crafty and naught.
As for the chopping of bargains, when a man buys not to hold but to
sell over again, that commonly grindeth double, both upon the
seller, and upon the buyer. Sharings do greatly enrich, if the hands
be well chosen, that are trusted. Usury is the certainest means of
gain, though one of the worst; as that whereby a man doth eat his
bread, in sudore vultus alieni; and besides, doth plough upon Sundays.
But yet certain though it be, it hath flaws; for that the scriveners
and brokers do value unsound men, to serve their own turn. The fortune
in being the first, in an invention or in a privilege, doth cause
sometimes a wonderful overgrowth in riches; as it was with the with
the first sugar man, in the Canaries. Therefore if a man can play
the true logician, to have as well judgment, as invention, he may do
great matters; especially if the times be fit. He that resteth upon
gains certain, shall hardly grow to great riches; and he that puts all
upon adventures, doth oftentimes break and come to poverty: it is
good, therefore, to guard adventures with certainties, that may uphold
losses. Monopolies, and coemption of wares for re-sale, where they are
not restrained, are great means to enrich; especially if the party
have intelligence, what things are like to come into request, and so
store himself beforehand. Riches gotten by service, though it be of
the best rise, yet when they are gotten by flattery, feeding humors,
and other servile conditions, they may be placed amongst the worst. As
for fishing for testaments and executorships (as Tacitus saith of
Seneca, testamenta et orbos tamquam indagine capi), it is yet worse;
by how much men submit themselves to meaner persons, than in
service. Believe not much, them that seem to despise riches for they
despise them, that despair of them; and none worse, when they come
to them. Be not penny-wise; riches have wings, and sometimes they
fly away of themselves, sometimes they must be set flying, to bring in
more. Men leave their riches, either to their kindred, or to the
public; and moderate portions, prosper best in both. A great state
left to an heir, is as a lure to all the birds of prey round about, to
seize on him, if he be not the better stablished in years and
judgment. Likewise glorious gifts and foundations, are like sacrifices
without salt; and but the painted sepulchres of alms, which soon
will putrefy, and corrupt inwardly. Therefore measure not thine
advancements, by quantity, but frame them by measure: and defer not
charities till death; for, certainly, if a man weigh it rightly, he
that doth so, is rather liberal of another man's, than of his own.


  I mean not to speak of divine prophecies; nor of heathen oracles;
nor of natural predictions; but only of prophecies that have been of
certain memory, and from hidden causes. Saith the Pythonissa to
Saul, To-morrow thou and thy son shall be with me. Homer hath these

       At domus Aeneae cunctis dominabitur oris,

       Et nati natorum, et qui nascentur ab illis.

A prophecy, as it seems, of the Roman empire. Seneca the tragedian
hath these verses:

                --Venient annis

           Saecula seris, quibus Oceanus

           Vincula rerum laxet, et ingens

           Pateat Tellus, Tiphysque novos

           Detegat orbes; nec sit terris

           Ultima Thule:

a prophecy of the discovery of America. daughter of Polycrates,
dreamed that Jupiter bathed her father, and Apollo anointed him; and
it came to the sun made his body run with sweat, and the rain washed
it. Philip of Macedon dreamed, he sealed up his wife's belly;
whereby he did expound it, that his wife should be barren; but
Aristander the soothsayer, told him his wife was with child because
men do not use to seal vessels, that are empty. A phantasm that
appeared to M. Brutus, in his tent, said to him, Philippis iterum me
videbis. Tiberius said to Galba, Tu quoque, Galba, degustabis
imperium. In Vespasian's time, there went a prophecy in the East, that
those that should come forth of Judea, should reign over the world:
which though it may be was meant of our Savior; yet Tacitus expounds
it of Vespasian. Domitian dreamed, the night before he was slain, that
a golden head was growing, out of the nape of his neck: and indeed,
the succession that followed him for many years, made golden times.
Henry the Sixth of England, said of Henry the Seventh, when he was a
lad, and gave him water, This is the lad that shall enjoy the crown,
for which we strive. When I was in France, I heard from one Dr.
Penal that the Queen Mother, who was given to curious arts, caused the
King her husband's nativity to be calculated, under a false name;
and the astrologer gave a judgment, that he should be killed in a
duel; at which the Queen laughed, thinking her husband to be above
challenges and duels: but he was slain upon a course at tilt, the
splinters of the staff of Montgomery going in at his beaver. The
trivial prophecy, which I heard when I was a child, and Queen
Elizabeth was in the flower of her years, was,

                  When hempe is spun

                  England's done:

whereby it was generally conceived, that after the princes had
reigned, which had the principal letters of that word hempe (which
were Henry, Edward, Mary, Philip, and Elizabeth), England should
come to utter confusion; which, thanks be to God, is verified only
in the change of the name; for that the King's style, is now no more
of England, but of Britian. There was also another prophecy, before
the year of '88, which I do not well understand.

            There shall be seen upon a day,

            Between the Baugh and the May,

            The black fleet of Norway.

            When that that come and gone,

            England build houses of lime and stone,

            For after wars shall you have none.

It was generally conceived to be meant, of the Spanish fleet that came
in '88: for that the king of Spain's surname, as they say, is
Norway. The prediction of Regiomontanus,

           Octogesimus octavus mirabilis annus,

was thought likewise accomplished in the sending of that great
fleet, being the greatest in strength, though not in number, of all
that ever swam upon the sea. As for Cleon's dream, I think it was a
jest. It was, that he was devoured of a long dragon; and it was
expounded of a maker of sausages, that troubled him exceedingly. 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 fireside.
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. That that hath given them grace, and some credit,
consisteth in three things. First, that men mark when they hit, and
never mark when they miss; as they do generally also of dreams. The
second is, that probable conjectures, or obscure traditions, many
times turn themselves into prophecies; while the nature of man,
which coveteth divination, thinks it no peril to foretell that which
indeed they do but collect. As that of Seneca's verse. For so much was
then subject to demonstration, that the globe of the earth had great
parts beyond the Atlantic, which mought be probably conceived not to
be all sea: and adding thereto the tradition in Plato's Timaeus, and
his Atlanticus, it mought encourage one to turn it to a prediction.
The third and last (which is the great one) is, that almost all of
them, being infinite in number, have been impostures, and by idle
and crafty brains merely contrived and feigned, after the event past.


  Ambition is like choler; which is an humor that maketh men active,
earnest, full of alacrity, and stirring, if it be not stopped. But
if it be stopped, and cannot have his way, it becometh adust, and
thereby malign and venomous. So ambitious men, if they find the way
open for their rising, and still get forward, they are rather busy
than dangerous; but if they be checked in their desires, they become
secretly discontent, and look upon men and matters with an evil eye,
and are best pleased, when things go backward; which is the worst
property in a servant of a prince, or state. Therefore it is good
for princes, if they use ambitious men, to handle it, so as they be
still progressive and not retrograde; which, because it cannot be
without inconvenience, it is good not to use such natures at all.
For if they rise not with their service, they will take order, to make
their service fall with them. But since we have said, it were good not
to use men of ambitious natures, except it be upon necessity, it is
fit we speak, in what cases they are of necessity. Good commanders
in the wars must be taken, be they never so ambitious; for the use
of their service, dispenseth with the rest; and to take a soldier
without ambition, is to pull off his spurs. There is also great use of
ambitious men, in being screens to princes in matters of danger and
envy; for no man will take that part, except he be like a seeled dove,
that mounts and mounts, because he cannot see about him. There is
use also of ambitious men, in pulling down the greatness of any
subject that over-tops; as Tiberius used Marco, in the pulling down of
Sejanus. Since, therefore, they must be used in such cases, there
resteth to speak, how they are to be bridled, that they may be less
dangerous. There is less danger of them, if they be of mean birth,
than if they be noble; and if they be rather harsh of nature, than
gracious and popular: and if they be rather new raised, than grown
cunning, and fortified, in their greatness. It is counted by some, a
weakness in princes, to have favorites; but it is, of all others,
the best remedy against ambitious great-ones. For when the way of
pleasuring, and displeasuring, lieth by the favorite, it is impossible
any other should be overgreat. Another means to curb them, is to
balance them by others, as proud as they. But then there must be
some middle counsellors, to keep things steady; for without that
ballast, the ship will roll too much. At the least, a prince may
animate and inure some meaner persons, to be as it were scourges, to
ambitions men. As for the having of them obnoxious to ruin; if they be
of fearful natures, it may do well; but if they be stout and daring,
it may precipitate their designs, and prove dangerous. As for the
pulling of them down, if the affairs require it, and that it may not
be done with safety suddenly, the only way is the interchange,
continually, of favors and disgraces; whereby they may not know what
to expect, and be, as it were, in a wood. Of ambitions, it is less
harmful, the ambition to prevail in great things, than that other,
to appear in every thing; 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. Honor hath three things in it:
the vantage ground to do good; the approach to kings and principal
persons; and the raising of a man's 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. Generally, let princes and states choose such
ministers, as are more sensible of duty than of rising; and such as
love business rather upon conscience, than upon bravery, and let
them discern a busy nature, from a willing mind.


  These things are but toys, to come amongst such serious
observations. But yet, since princes will have such things, it is
better they should be graced with elegancy, than daubed with cost.
Dancing to song, is a thing of great state and pleasure. I
understand it, that the song be in quire, placed aloft, and
accompanied with some broken music; and the ditty fitted to the
device. Acting in song, especially in dialogues, hath an extreme
good grace; I say acting, not dancing (for that is a mean and vulgar
thing); and the voices of the dialogue would be strong and manly (a
base and a tenor; no treble); and the ditty high and tragical; not
nice or dainty. Several quires, placed one over against another, and
taking the voice by catches, anthem-wise, give great pleasure. Turning
dances into figure, is a childish curiosity. And generally let it be
noted, that those things which I here set down, are such as do
naturally take the sense, and not respect petty wonderments. It is
true, the alterations of scenes, so it be quietly and without noise,
are things of great beauty and pleasure; for they feed and relieve the
eye, before it be full of the same object. Let the scenes abound
with light, specially colored and varied; and let the masquers, or any
other, that are to come down from the scene, have some motions upon
the scene itself, before their coming down; for it draws the eye
strangely, and makes it, with great pleasure, to desire to see, that
it cannot perfectly discern. Let the gongs be loud and cheerful, and
not chirpings or pulings. Let the music likewise be sharp and loud,
and well placed. The colors that show best by candle-light are
white, carnation, and a kind of sea-water-green; and oes, or spangs,
as they are of no great cost, so they are of most glory. As for rich
embroidery, it is lost and not discerned. Let the suits of the
masquers be graceful, and such as become the person, when the vizors
are off; not after examples of known attires; Turke, soldiers,
mariners, and the like. Let anti-masques not be long; they have been
commonly of fools, satyrs, baboons, wild-men, antics, beasts, sprites,
witches, Ethiops, pigmies, turquets, nymphs, rustics, Cupids,
statuas moving, and the like. As for angels, it is not comical enough,
to put them in anti-masques; and anything that is hideous, as
devils, giants, is on the other side as unfit. But chiefly, let the
music of them be recreative, and with some strange changes. Some sweet
odors suddenly coming forth, without any drops falling, are, in such a
company as there is steam and heat, things of great pleasure and
refreshment. Double masques, one of men, another of ladies, addeth
state and variety. But all is nothing except the room be kept clear
and neat.

  For justs, and tourneys, and barriers; the glories of them are
chiefly in the chariots, wherein the challengers make their entry;
especially if they be drawn with strange beasts: as lions, bears,
camels, and the like; or in the devices of their entrance; or in the
bravery of their liveries; or in the goodly furniture of their
horses and armor. But enough of these toys.


  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. He that seeketh victory over his nature, let him
not set himself too great, nor too small tasks; for the first will
make him dejected by often failings; and the second will make him a
small proceeder, though by often prevailings. And at the first let him
practise with helps, as swimmers do with bladders or rushes; but after
a time let him practise with disadvantages, as dancers do with thick
shoes. For it breeds great perfection, if the practice be harder
than the use. Where nature is mighty, and therefore the victory
hard, the degrees had need be, first to stay and arrest nature in
time; like to him that would say over the four and twenty letters when
he was angry; then to go less in quantity; as if one should, in
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

       Optimus ille animi vindex laedentia pectus

       Vincula qui rupit, dedoluitque semel.

Neither is the ancient rule amiss, to bend nature, as a wand, to a
contrary extreme, whereby to set it right, understanding it, where the
contrary extreme is no vice. Let not a man force a habit upon'
himself, with a perpetual continuance, but with some intermission. For
both the pause reinforceth the new onset; and if a man that is not
perfect, be ever in practice, he shall as well practise his errors, as
his abilities, and induce one habit of both; and there is no means
to help this, but by seasonable intermissions. But let not a man trust
his victory over his nature, too far; for nature will lay buried a
great time, and yet revive, upon the occasion or temptation. Like as
it was with AEsop's damsel, turned from a cat to a woman, who sat very
demurely at the board's end, till a mouse ran before her. Therefore,
let a man either avoid the occasion altogether; or put himself often
to it, that he may be little moved with it. A man's nature is best
perceived in privateness, for there is no affectation; in passion, for
that putteth a man out of his precepts; and in a new case or
experiment, for there custom leaveth him. They are happy men, whose
natures sort with their vocations; otherwise they may say, multum
incola fuit anima mea; when they converse in those things, they do not
affect. In studies, whatsoever a man commandeth upon himself, let
him set hours for it; but whatsoever is agreeable to his nature, let
him take no care for any set times; for his thoughts will fly to it,
of themselves; so as the spaces of other business, or studies, will
suffice. A man's nature, runs either to herbs or weeds; therefore
let him seasonably water the one, and destroy the other.


  Men's thoughts, are much according to their inclination; their
discourse and 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-favored
instance), there is no trusting to the force of nature, nor to the
bravery of words, except it be corroborate by custom. His instance is,
that for the achieving of a desperate conspiracy, a man should not
rest upon the fierceness of any man's nature, or his resolute
undertakings; but take such an one, as hath had his hands formerly
in blood. But Machiavel knew not of a Friar Clement, nor a Ravillac,
nor a Jaureguy, nor a Baltazar Gerard; yet his rule holdeth still,
that nature, nor the engagement of words, are not so forcible, as
custom. Only superstition is now so well advanced, that men of the
first blood, are as firm as butchers by occupation; and votary
resolution, is made equipollent to custom, even in matter of blood. In
other things, the predominancy of custom is everywhere visible;
insomuch as a man would wonder, to hear men profess, protest,
engage, give great words, and then do, just as they have done
before; as if they were dead images, and engines moved only by the
wheels of custom. We see also the reign or tyranny of custom, what
it is. The Indians (I mean the sect of their wise men) lay
themselves quietly upon a stock of wood, and so sacrifice themselves
by fire. Nay, the wives strive to be burned, with the corpses of their
husbands. The lads of Sparta, of ancient time, were wont to be
scourged upon the altar of Diana, without so much as queching. I
remember, in the beginning of Queen Elizabeth's time of England, an
Irish rebel condemned, put up a petition to the deputy, that he
might be hanged in a withe, and not in an halter; because it had
been so used, with former rebels. There be monks in Russia, for
penance, that will sit a whole night in a vessel of water, till they
be engaged with hard ice. Many examples may be put of the force of
custom, both upon mind and body. Therefore, since custom is the
principal magistrate of man's life, let men by all means endeavor,
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. So we see, in languages, the tongue is more
pliant to all expressions and sounds, the joints are more supple, to
all feats of activity and motions, in youth than afterwards. For it is
true, that late learners cannot so well take the ply; except it be
in some minds that have not suffered themselves to fix, but have
kept themselves open, and prepared to receive continual amendment,
which is exceeding rare. But if the force of custom simple and
separate, be great, the force of custom copulate and conjoined and
collegiate, is far greater. For there example teacheth, company
comforteth, emulation quickeneth, glory raiseth: so as in such
places the force of custom is in his exaltation. Certainly the great
multiplication of virtues upon human nature, resteth uponsocieties
well ordained and disciplined. For commonwealths, and good
governments, do nourish virtue grown, but do not much mend the
deeds. But the misery is, that the most effectual means, are now
applied to the ends, least to be desired.


  It cannot be denied, but outward accidents conduce much to
fortune; favor, opportunity, death of others, occasion fitting virtue.
But chiefly, the mould of a man's fortune is in his own hands. Faber
quisque fortunae suae, saith the poet. And the most frequent of
external causes is, that the folly of one man, is the fortune of
another. For no man prospers so suddenly, as by others' errors.
Serpens nisi serpentem comederit non fit draco. Overt and apparent
virtues, bring forth praise; but there be secret and hidden virtues,
that bring forth fortune; certain deliveries of a man's self, which
have no name. The Spanish name, desemboltura, partly expresseth
them; when there be not stonds nor restiveness in a man's nature;
but that the wheels of his mind, keep way with the wheels of his
fortune. For so Livy (after he had described Cato Major in these
words, In illo viro tantum robur corporis et animi fuit, ut
quocunque loco natus esset, fortunam sibi facturus videretur)
falleth upon that, that he had versatile ingenium. Therefore if a
man look sharply and attentively, he shall see Fortune: for though she
be blind, yet she is not invisible. The way of fortune, is like the
Milken Way in the sky; which is a meeting or knot of a number of small
stars; not seen asunder, but giving light together. So are there a
number of little, and scarce discerned virtues, or rather faculties
and customs, that make men fortunate. The Italians note some of
them, such as a man would little think. When they speak of one that
cannot do amiss, they will throw in, into his other conditions, that
he hath Poco di matto. And certainly there be not two more fortunate
properties, than to have a little of the fool, and not too much of the
honest. Therefore extreme lovers of their country or masters, were
never fortunate, neither can they be. For when a man placeth his
thoughts without himself, he goeth not his own way. An hasty fortune
maketh an enterpriser and remover (the French hath it better,
entreprenant, or remuant); but the exercised fortune maketh the able
man. Fortune is to be honored and respected, and it be but for her
daughters, Confidence and Reputation. For those two, Felicity
breedeth; the first within a man's 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. So Caesar said to the pilot in the
tempest, Caesarem portas, et fortunam ejus. So Sylla chose the name of
Felix, and not of Magnus. And it hath been noted, that those who
ascribe openly too much to their own wisdom and policy, end
infortunate. It is written that Timotheus the Athenian, after he
had, in the account he gave to the state of his government, often
interlaced this speech, and in this, Fortune had no part, never
prospered in anything, he undertook afterwards. Certainly there be,
whose fortunes are like Homer's verses, that have a slide and easiness
more than the verses of other poets; as Plutarch saith of Timoleon's
fortune, in respect of that of Agesilaus or Epaminondas. And that this
should be, no doubt it is much, in a man's self.


  Many have made witty invectives against usury. They say that it is a
pity, the devil should have God's part, which is the tithe. That the
usurer is the greatest Sabbath-breaker, because his plough goeth every
Sunday. That the usurer is the drone, that Virgil speaketh of;

        Ignavum fucos pecus a praesepibus arcent.

That the usurer breaketh the first law, that was made for mankind
after the fall, which was, in sudore vultus tui comedes panem tuum;
not, in sudore vultus alieni. That usurers should have orange-tawny
bonnets, because they do judaize. That it is against nature for
money to beget money; and the like. I say this only, that usury is a
concessum propter duritiem cordis; for since there must be borrowing
and lending, and men are so hard of heart, as they will not lend
freely, usury must be permitted. Some others, have made suspicious and
cunning propositions of banks, discovery of men's estates, and other
inventions. But few have spoken of usury usefully. It is good to set
before us, the incommodities and commodities of usury, that the
good, may be either weighed out or called out; and warily to
provide, that while we make forth to that which is better, we meet not
with that which is worse.

  The discommodities of usury are, First, that it makes fewer
merchants. For were it not for this lazy trade of usury, money would
not he still, but would in great part be employed upon
merchandizing; which is the vena porta of wealth in a state. The
second, that it makes poor merchants. For, as a farmer cannot
husband his ground so well, if he sit at a great rent; so the merchant
cannot drive his trade so well, if he sit at great usury. The third is
incident to the other two; and that is the decay of customs of kings
or states, which ebb or flow, with merchandizing. The fourth, that
it bringeth the treasure of a realm, or state, into a few hands. For
the usurer being at certainties, and others at uncertainties, at the
end of the game, most of the money will be in the box; and ever a
state flourisheth, when wealth is more equally spread. The fifth, that
it beats down the price of land; for the employment of money, is
chiefly either merchandizing or purchasing; and usury waylays both.
The sixth, that it doth dull and damp all industries, improvements,
and new inventions, wherein money would be stirring, if it were not
for this slug. The last, that it is the canker and ruin of many
men's estates; which, in process of time, breeds a public poverty.

  On the other side, the commodities of usury are, first, that
howsoever usury in some respect hindereth merchandizing, yet in some
other it advanceth it; for it is certain that the greatest part of
trade is driven by young merchants, upon borrowing at interest; so
as if the usurer either call in, or keep back, his money, there will
ensue, presently, a great stand of trade. The second is, that were
it not for this easy borrowing upon interest, men's necessities
would draw upon them a most sudden undoing; in that they would be
forced to sell their means (be it lands or goods) far under foot;
and so, whereas usury doth but gnaw upon them, bad markets would
swallow them quite up. As for mortgaging or pawning, it will little
mend the matter: for either men will not take pawns without use; or if
they do, they will look precisely for the forfeiture. I remember a
cruel moneyed man in the country, that would say, The devil take
this usury, it keeps us from forfeitures, of mortgages and bonds.
The third and last is, that it is a vanity to conceive, that there
would be ordinary borrowing without profit; and it is impossible to
conceive, the number of inconveniences that will ensue, if borrowing
be cramped. Therefore to speak of the abolishing of usury is idle. All
states have ever had it, in one kind or rate, or other. So as that
opinion must be sent to Utopia.

  To speak now of the reformation, and reiglement, of usury; how the
discommodities of it may be best avoided, and the commodities
retained. It appears, by the balance of commodities and discommodities
of usury, two things are to be reconciled. The one, that the tooth
of usury be grinded, that it bite not too much; the other, that
there be left open a means, to invite moneyed men to lend to the
merchants, for the continuing and quickening of trade. This cannot
be done, except you introduce two several sorts of usury, a less and a
greater. For if you reduce usury to one low rate, it will ease the
common borrower, but the merchant will be to seek for money. And it is
to be noted, that the trade of merchandize, being the most
lucrative, may bear usury at a good rate; other contracts not so.

  To serve both intentions, the way would be briefly thus. That
there be two rates of usury: the one free, and general for all; the
other under license only, to certain persons, and in certain places of
merchandizing. First, therefore, let usury in general, be reduced to
five in the hundred; and let that rate be proclaimed, to be free and
current; and let the state shut itself out, to take any penalty for
the same. This will preserve borrowing, from any general stop or
dryness. This will ease infinite borrowers in the country. This
will, in good part, raise the price of land, because land purchased at
sixteen years' purchase will yield six in the hundred, and somewhat
more; whereas this rate of interest, yields but five. This by like
reason will encourage, and edge, industrious and profitable
improvements; because many will rather venture in that kind, than take
five in the hundred, especially having been used to greater profit.
Secondly, let there be certain persons licensed, to lend to known
merchants, upon usury at a higher rate; and let it be with the
cautions following. Let the rate be, even with the merchant himself,
somewhat more easy than that he used formerly to pay; for by that
means, all borrowers, shall have some ease by this reformation, be
he merchant, or whosoever. Let it be no bank or common stock, but
every man be master of his own money. Not that I altogether mislike
banks, but they will hardly be brooked, in regard of certain
suspicions. Let the state be answered some small matter for the
license, and the rest left to the lender; for if the abatement be
but small, it will no whit discourage the lender. For he, for example,
that took before ten or nine in the hundred, will sooner descend to
eight in the hundred than give over his trade of usury, and go from
certain gains, to gains of hazard. Let these licensed lenders be in
number indefinite, but restrained to certain principal cities and
towns of merchandizing; for then they will be hardly able to color
other men's moneys in the country: so as the license of nine will
not suck away the current rate of five; for no man will send his
moneys far off, nor put them into unknown hands.

  If it be objected that this doth in a sort authorize usury, which
before, was in some places but permissive; the answer is, that it is
better to mitigate usury, by declaration, than to suffer it to rage,
by connivance.


  A man that is young in years, may be old in hours, if he have lost
no time. But that happeneth rarely. Generally, youth is like the first
cogitations, not so wise as the second. For there is a youth in
thoughts, as well as in ages. And yet the invention of young men, is
more lively than that of old; and imaginations stream into their minds
better, and, as it were, more divinely. Natures that have much heat,
and great and violent desires and perturbations, are not ripe for
action, till they have passed the meridian of their years; as it was
with Julius Caesar and Septimius Severus. Of the latter, of whom it is
said, Juventutem egit erroribus, imo furoribus, plenam. And yet he was
the ablest emperor, almost, of all the list. But reposed natures may
do well in youth. As it is seen in Augustus Caesar, Cosmus Duke of
Florence, Gaston de Foix, and others. On the other side, heat and
vivacity in age, is an excellent composition for business. 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 extern
accidents, because authority followeth old men, and favor and
popularity, youth. But for the moral part, perhaps youth will have the
pre-eminence, as age hath for the politic. A certain rabbin, upon
the text, Your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall
dream dreams, inferreth that young men, are admitted nearer to God
than old, because vision, is a clearer revelation, than a dream. And
certainly, the more a man drinketh of the world, the more it
intoxicateth; and age doth profit rather in the powers of
understanding, than in the virtues of the will and affections. There
be some, have an over-early ripeness in their years, which fadeth
betimes. These are, first, such as have brittle wits, the edge whereof
is soon turned; such as was Hermogenes the rhetorician, whose books
are exceeding subtle; who afterwards waxed stupid. A second sort, is
of those that have some natural dispositions which have better grace
in youth, than in age; such as is a fluent and luxuriant speech; which
becomes youth well, but not age: so Tully saith of Hortensius, Idem
manebat, neque idem decebat. The third is of such, as take too high
a strain at the first, and are magnanimous, more than tract of years
can uphold. As was Scipio Africanus, of whom Livy saith in effect,
Ultima primis cedebant.


  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 labor
to produce excellency. And therefore they prove accomplished, but
not of great spirit; and study rather behavior, than virtue. But
this holds not always: for Augustus Caesar, Titus Vespasianus,
Philip le Belle of France, Edward the Fourth of England, Alcibiades of
Athens, Ismael the Sophy of Persia, were all high and great spirits;
and yet the most beautiful men of their times. In beauty, that of
favor, is more than that of color; and that of decent and gracious
motion, more than that of favor. 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 cannot tell whether Apelles, or Albert Durer, were
the more trifler; whereof the one, would make a personage by
geometrical proportions; the other, by taking the best parts out of
divers faces, to make one excellent. Such personages, I think, would
please nobody, but the painter that made them. Not but I think a
painter may make a better face than ever was; but he must do it by a
kind of felicity (as a musician that maketh an excellent air in
music), and not by rule. 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; pulchrorum 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 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 virtue shine, and vices blush.


  Deformed persons are commonly even with nature; for as nature hath
done ill by them, so do they by nature; being for the most part (as
the Scripture saith) void of natural affection; and so they have their
revenge of nature. Certainly there is a consent, between the body
and the mind; and where nature erreth in the one, she ventureth in the
other. Ubi peccat in uno, periclitatur in altero. But because there
is, in man, an election touching the frame of his mind, and a
necessity in the frame of his body, the stars of natural inclination
are sometimes obscured, by the sun of discipline and virtue. Therefore
it is good to consider of deformity, not as a sign, which is more
deceivable; but as a cause, which seldom faileth of the effect.
Whosoever hath anything fixed in his person, that doth induce
contempt, hath also a perpetual spur in himself, to rescue and deliver
himself from scorn. Therefore all deformed persons, are extreme
bold. First, as in their own defence, as being exposed to scorn; but
in process of time, by a general habit. Also it stirreth in them
industry, and especially of this kind, to watch and observe the
weakness of others, that they may have somewhat to repay. Again, in
their superiors, it quencheth jealousy towards them, as persons that
they think they may, at pleasure, despise: and it layeth their
competitors and emulators asleep; as never believing they should be in
possibility of advancement, till they see them in possession. So
that upon the matter, in a great wit, deformity is an advantage to
rising. Kings in ancient times (and at this present in some countries)
were wont to put great trust in eunuchs; because they that are envious
towards all are more obnoxious and officious, towards one. But yet
their trust towards them, hath rather been as to good spials, and good
whisperers, than good magistrates and officers. And much like is the
reason of deformed persons. Still the ground is, they will, if they be
of spirit, seek to free themselves from scorn; which must be either by
virtue or malice; and therefore let it not be marvelled, if
sometimes they prove excellent persons; as was Agesilaus, Zanger the
son of Solyman, AEsop, Gasca, President of Peru; and Socrates may go
likewise amongst them; with others.


  Houses are built to live in, and not to look on; therefore let use
be preferred before uniformity, except where both may be had. Leave
the goodly fabrics of houses, for beauty only, to the enchanted
palaces of the poets; who build them with small cost. He that builds a
fair house, upon an ill seat, committeth himself to prison. Neither do
I reckon it an ill seat, only where the air is unwholesome; but
likewise where the air is unequal; as you shall see many fine seats
set upon a knap of ground, environed with higher hills round about it;
whereby the heat of the sun is pent in, and the wind gathereth as in
troughs; so as you shall have, and that suddenly, as great diversity
of heat and cold as if you dwelt in several places. Neither is it
ill air only that maketh an ill seat, but ill ways, ill markets;
and, if you will consult with Momus, ill neighbors. I speak not of
many more; want of water; want of wood, shade, and shelter; want of
fruitfulness, and mixture of grounds of several natures; want of
prospect; want of level grounds; want of places at some near
distance for sports of hunting, hawking, and races; too near the
sea, too remote; having the commodity of navigable rivers, or the
discommodity of their overflowing; too far off from great cities,
which may hinder business, or too near them, which lurcheth all
provisions, and maketh everything dear; where a man hath a great
living laid together, and where he is scanted: all which, as it is
impossible perhaps to find together, so it is good to know them, and
think of them, that a man may take as many as he can; and if he have
several dwellings, that he sort them so, that what he wanteth in the
one, he may find in the other. Lucullus answered Pompey well; who,
when he saw his stately galleries, and rooms so large and lightsome,
in one of his houses, said, Surely an excellent place for summer,
but how do you in winter? Lucullus answered, Why, do you not think
me as wise as some fowl are, that ever change their abode towards
the winter?

  To pass from the seat, to the house itself; we will do as Cicero
doth in the orator's art; who writes books De Oratore, and a book he
entitles Orator; whereof the former, delivers the precepts of the art,
and the latter, the perfection. We will therefore describe a
princely palace, making a brief model thereof. For it is strange to
see, now in Europe, such huge buildings as the Vatican and Escurial
and some others be, and yet scarce a very fair room in them.

  First, therefore, I say you cannot have a perfect palace except
you have two several sides; a side for the banquet, as it is spoken of
in the book of Hester, and a side for the household; the one for
feasts and triumphs, and the other for dwelling. I understand both
these sides to be not only returns, but parts of the front; and to
be uniform without, though severally partitioned within; and to be
on both sides of a great and stately tower, in the midst of the front,
that, as it were, joineth them together on either hand. I would have
on the side of the banquet, in front, one only goodly room above
stairs, of some forty foot high; and under it a room for a dressing,
or preparing place, at times of triumphs. On the other side, which
is the household side, I wish it divided at the first, into a hall and
a chapel (with a partition between); both of good state and bigness;
and those not to go all the length, but to have at the further end,
a winter and a summer parlor, both fair. And under these rooms, a fair
and large cellar, sunk under ground; and likewise some privy kitchens,
with butteries and pantries, and the like. As for the tower, I would
have it two stories, of eighteen foot high apiece, above the two
wings; and a goodly leads upon the top, railed with statuas
interposed; and the same tower to be divided into rooms, as shall be
thought fit. The stairs likewise to the upper rooms, let them be
upon a fair open newel, and finely railed in, with images of wood,
cast into a brass color; and a very fair landing-place at the top. But
this to be, if you do not point any of the lower rooms, for a dining
place of servants. For otherwise, you shall have the servants'
dinner after your own: for the steam of it, will come up as in a
tunnel. And so much for the front. Only I understand the height of the
first stairs to be sixteen foot, which is the height of the lower

  Beyond this front, is there to be a fair court, but three sides of
it, of a far lower building than the front. And in all the four
corners of that court, fair staircases, cast into turrets, on the
outside, and not within the row of buildings themselves. But those
towers, are not to be of the height of the front, but rather
proportionable to the lower building. Let the court not be paved,
for that striketh up a great heat in summer, and much cold in
winter. But only some side alleys, with a cross, and the quarters to
graze, being kept shorn, but not too near shorn. The row of return
on the banquet side, let it be all stately galleries: in which
galleiies let there be three, or five, fine cupolas in the length of
it, placed at equal distance; and fine colored windows of several
works. On the household side, chambers of presence and ordinary
entertainments, with some bed-chambers; and let all three sides be a
double house, without thorough lights on the sides, that you may
have rooms from the sun, both for forenoon and afternoon. Cast it
also, that you may have rooms, both for summer and winter; shady for
summer, and warm for winter. You shall have sometimes fair houses so
full of glass, that one cannot tell where to become, to be out of
the sun or cold. For inbowed windows, I hold them of good use (in
cities, indeed, upright do better, in respect of the uniformity
towards the street); for they be pretty retiring places for
conference; and besides, they keep both the wind and sun off; for that
which would strike almost through the room, doth scarce pass the
window. But let them be but few, four in the court, on the sides only.

  Beyond this court, let there be an inward court, of the same
square and height; which is to be environed with the garden on all
sides; and in the inside, cloistered on all sides, upon decent and
beautiful arches, as high as the first story. On the under story,
towards the garden, let it be turned to a grotto, or a place of shade,
or estivation. And only have opening and windows towards the garden;
and be level upon the floor, no whit sunken under ground, to avoid all
dampishness. And let there be a fountain, or some fair work of
statuas, in the midst of this court; and to be paved as the other
court was. These buildings to be for privy lodgings on both sides; and
the end for privy galleries. Whereof you must foresee that one of them
be for an infirmary, if the prince or any special person should be
sick, with chambers, bed-chamber, antecamera, and recamera joining
to it. This upon the second story. Upon the ground story, a fair
gallery, open, upon pillars; and upon the third story likewise, an
open gallery, upon pillars, to take the prospect and freshness of
the garden. At both corners of the further side, by way of return, let
there be two delicate or rich cabinets, daintily paved, richly hanged,
glazed with crystalline glass, and a rich cupola in the midst; and all
other elegancy that may be thought upon. In the upper gallery tool I
wish that there may be, if the place will yield it, some fountains
running in divers places from the wall, with some fine avoidances. And
thus much for the model of the palace; save that you must have, before
you come to the front, three courts. A green court plain, with a
wall about it; a second court of the same, but more garnished, with
little turrets, or rather embellishments, upon the wall; and a third
court, to make a square with the front, but not to be built, nor yet
enclosed with a naked wall, but enclosed with terraces, leaded
aloft, and fairly garnished, on the three sides; and cloistered on the
inside, with pillars, and not with arches below. As for offices, let
them stand at distance, with some low galleries, to pass from them
to the palace itself.


  God Almighty 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
ordering 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. For December, and January, and the latter part of November,
you must take such things as are green all winter: holly; ivy; bays;
juniper; cypress-trees; yew; pine-apple-trees; fir-trees; rosemary;
lavender; periwinkle, the white, the purple, and the blue;
germander; flags; orange-trees; lemon-trees; and myrtles, if they be
stoved; and sweet marjoram, warm set. There followeth, for the
latter part of January and February, the mezereon-tree, which then
blossoms; crocus vernus, both the yellow and the grey; primroses;
anemones; the early tulippa; hyacinthus orientalis; chamairis;
fritellaria. For March, there come violets, specially the single blue,
which are the earliest; the yellow daffodil; the daisy; the
almond-tree in blossom; the peach-tree in blossom; the
cornelian-tree in blossom; sweet-briar. In April follow the double
white violet; the wallflower; the stock-gilliflower; the cowslip;
flower-delices, and lilies of all natures; rosemary-flowers; the
tulippa; the double peony; the pale daffodil; the French
honeysuckle; the cherry-tree in blossom; the damson and plum-trees
in blossom; the white thorn in leaf; the lilac-tree. In May and June
come pinks of all sorts, specially the blushpink; roses of all
kinds, except the musk, which comes later; honeysuckles; strawberries;
bugloss; columbine; the French marigold, flos Africanus; cherry-tree
in fruit; ribes; figs in fruit; rasps; vineflowers; lavender in
flowers; the sweet satyrian, with the white flower; herba muscaria;
lilium convallium; the apple-tree in blossom. In July come
gilliflowers of all varieties; musk-roses; the lime-tree in blossom;
early pears and plums in fruit; jennetings, codlins. In August come
plums of all sorts in fruit; pears; apricocks; berberries; filberds;
musk-melons; monks-hoods, of all colors. In September come grapes;
apples; poppies of all colors; peaches; melocotones; nectarines;
cornelians; wardens; quinces. In October and the beginning of November
come services; medlars; bullaces; roses cut or removed to come late;
hollyhocks; and such like. These particulars are for the climate of
London; but my meaning is perceived, that you may have ver
perpetuum, as the place affords.

  And because the breath of flowers is far sweeter in the air (where
it comes and goes like the warbling of music) than in the hand,
therefore nothing is more fit for that delight, than to know what be
the flowers and plants that do best perfume the air. Roses, damask and
red, are fast flowers of their smells; so that you may walk by a whole
row of them, and find nothing of their sweetness; yea though it be
in a moming's dew. Bays likewise yield no smell as they grow. Rosemary
little; nor sweet marjoram. That which above all others yields the
sweetest smell in the air is the violet, specially the white double
violet, which comes twice a year; about the middle of April, and about
Bartholomew-tide. Next to that is the musk-rose. Then the
strawberry-leaves dying, which yield a most excellent cordial smell.
Then the flower of vines; it is a little dust, like the dust of a
bent, which grows upon the cluster in the first coming forth. Then
sweet-briar. Then wall-flowers, which are very delightful to be set
under a parlor or lower chamber window. Then pinks and gilliflowers,
especially the matted pink and clove gilliflower. Then the flowers
of the lime-tree. Then the honeysuckles, so they be somewhat afar off.
Of beanflowers I speak not, because they are field flowers. But
those which perfume the air most delightfully, not passed by as the
rest, but being trodden upon and crushed, are three; that is,
burnet, wild-thyme, and watermints. Therefore you are to set whole
alleys of them, to have the pleasure when you walk or tread.

  For gardens (speaking of those which are indeed princelike, as we
have done of buildings), the contents ought not well to be under
thirty acres of ground; and to be divided into three parts; a green in
the entrance; a heath or desert in the going forth; and the main
garden in the midst; besides alleys on both sides. And I like well
that four acres of ground be assigned to the green; six to the
heath; four and four to either side; and twelve to the main garden.
The green hath two pleasures: the one, because nothing is more
pleasant to the eye than green grass kept finely shorn; the other,
because it will give you a fair alley in the midst, by which you may
go in front upon a stately hedge, which is to enclose the garden.
But because the alley will be long, and, in great heat of the year
or day, you ought not to buy the shade in the garden, by going in
the sun through the green, therefore you are, of either side the
green, to plant a covert alley upon carpenter's work, about twelve
foot in height, by which you may go in shade into the garden. As for
the making of knots or figures, with divers colored earths, that
they may lie under the windows of the house on that side which the
garden stands, they be but toys; you may see as good sights, many
times, in tarts. The garden is best to be square, encompassed on all
the four sides with a stately arched hedge. The arches to be upon
pillars of carpenter's work, of some ten foot high, and six foot
broad; and the spaces between of the same dimension with the breadth
of the arch. Over the arches let there be an entire hedge of some four
foot high, framed also upon carpenter's work; and upon the upper
hedge, over every arch, a little turret, with a belly, enough to
receive a cage of birds: and over every space between the arches
some other little figure, with broad plates of round colored glass
gilt, for the sun to play upon. But this hedge I intend to be raised
upon a bank, not steep, but gently slope, of some six foot, set all
with flowers. Also I understand, that this square of the garden,
should not be the whole breadth of the ground, but to leave on
either side, ground enough for diversity of side alleys; unto which
the two covert alleys of the green, may deliver you. But there must be
no alleys with hedges, at either end of this great enclosure; not at
the hither end, for letting your prospect upon this fair hedge from
the green; nor at the further end, for letting your prospect from
the hedge, through the arches upon the heath.

  For the ordering of the ground, within the great hedge, I leave it
to variety of device; advising nevertheless, that whatsoever form
you cast it into, first, it be not too busy, or full of work.
Wherein I, for my part, do not like images cut out in juniper or other
garden stuff; they be for children. Little low hedges, round, like
welts, with some pretty pyramids, I like well; and in some places,
fair columns upon frames of carpenter's work. I would also have the
alleys, spacious and fair. You may have closer alleys, upon the side
grounds, but none in the main garden. I wish also, in the very
middle a fair mount, with three ascents, and alleys, enough for four
to walk abreast; which I would have to be perfect circles, without any
bulwarks or embossments; and the whole mount to be thirty foot high;
and some fine banqueting-house, with some chimneys neatly cast, and
without too much glass.

  For fountains, they are a great beauty and refreshment; but pools
mar all, and make the garden unwholesome, and full of flies and frogs.
Fountains I intend to be of two natures: the one that sprinkleth or
spouteth water; the other a fair receipt of water, of some thirty or
forty foot square, but without fish, or slime, or mud. For the
first, the ornaments of images gilt, or of marble, which are in use,
do well: but the main matter is so to convey the water, as it never
stay, either in the bowls or in the cistern; that the water be never
by rest discolored, green or red or the like; or gather any
mossiness or putrefaction. Besides that, it is to be cleansed every
day by the hand. Also some steps up to it, and some fine pavement
about it, doth well. As for the other kind of fountain, which we may
call a bathing pool, it may admit much curiosity and beauty; wherewith
we will not trouble ourselves: as, that the bottom be finely paved,
and with images; the sides likewise; and withal embellished with
colored glass, and such things of lustre; encompassed also with fine
rails of low statuas. But the main point is the same which we
mentioned in the former kind of fountain; which is, that the water
be in perpetual motion, fed by a water higher than the pool, and
delivered into it by fair spouts, and then discharged away under
ground, by some equality of bores, that it stay little. And for fine
devices, of arching water without spilling, and making it rise in
several forms (of feathers, drinking glasses, canopies, and the like),
they be pretty things to look on, but nothing to health and sweetness.

  For the heath, which was the third part of our plot, I wish it to be
framed, as much as may be, to a natural wildness. Trees I would have
none in it, but some thickets made only of sweet-briar and
honeysuckle, and some wild vine amongst; and the ground set with
violets, strawberries, and primroses. For these are sweet, and prosper
in the shade. And these to be in the heath, here and there, not in any
order. I like also little heaps, in the nature of mole-hills (such
as are in wild heaths), to be set, some with wild thyme; some with
pinks; some with germander, that gives a good flower to the eye;
some with periwinkle; some with violets; some with strawberries;
some with cowslips; some with daisies; some with red roses; some
with lilium convallium; some with sweet-williams red; some with
bear's-foot: and the like low flowers, being withal sweet and sightly.
Part of which heaps, are to be with standards of little bushes pricked
upon their top, and part without. The standards to be roses;
juniper; hory; berberries (but here and there, because of the smell of
their blossoms); red currants; gooseberries; rosemary; bays;
sweetbriar; and such like. But these standards to be kept with
cutting, that they grow not out of course.

  For the side grounds, you are to fill them with variety of alleys,
private, to give a full shade, some of them, wheresoever the sun be.
You are to frame some of them, likewise, for shelter, that when the
wind blows sharp you may walk as in a gallery. And those alleys must
be likewise hedged at both ends, to keep out the wind; and these
closer alleys must be ever finely gravelled, and no grass, because
of going wet. In many of these alleys, likewise, you are to set
fruit-trees of all sorts; as well upon the walls, as in ranges. And
this would be generally observed, that the borders wherein you plant
your fruit-trees, be fair and large, and low, and not steep; and set
with fine flowers, but thin and sparingly, lest they deceive the
trees. At the end of both the side grounds, I would have a mount of
some pretty height, leaving the wall of the enclosure breast high,
to look abroad into the fields.

  For the main garden, I do not deny, but there should be some fair
alleys ranged on both sides, with fruit-trees; and some pretty tufts
of fruit-trees; and arbors with seats, set in some decent order; but
these to be by no means set too thick; but to leave the main garden so
as it be not close, but the air open and free. For as for shade, I
would have you rest upon the alleys of the side grounds, there to
walk, if you be disposed, in the heat of the year or day; but to
make account, that the main garden is for the more temperate parts
of the year; and in the heat of summer, for the morning and the
evening, or overcast days.

  For aviaries, I like them not, except they be of that largeness as
they may be turfed, and have living plants and bushes set in them;
that the birds may have more scope, and natural nestling, and that
no foulness appear in the floor of the aviary. So I have made a
platform of a princely garden, partly by precept, partly by drawing,
not a model, but some general lines of it; and in this I have spared
for no cost. But it is nothing for great princes, that for the most
part taking advice with workmen, with no less cost set their things
together; and sometimes add statuas and such things for state and
magnificence, but nothing to the true pleasure of a garden.


  It is generally better to deal by speech than by letter; and by
the mediation of a third than by a man's self. Letters are good,
when a man would draw an answer by letter back again; or when it may
serve for a man's justification afterwards to produce his own
letter; or where it may be danger to be interrupted, or heard by
pieces. To deal in person is good, when a man's face breedeth
regard, as commonly with inferiors; or in tender cases, where a
man's eye, upon the countenance of him with whom he speaketh, may give
him a direction how far to go; and generally, where a man will reserve
to himself liberty, either to disavow or to expound. 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 back again
faithfully the success, than those that are cunning, to contrive,
out of other men's business, somewhat to grace themselves, and will
help the matter in report for satisfaction's sake. Use also such
persons as affect the business, wherein they are employed; for that
quickeneth much; and such, as are fit for the matter; as bold men
for expostulation, fair-spoken men for persuasion, crafty for
inquiry and observation, froward, and absurd men, for business that
doth not well bear out itself. Use also such as have been lucky, and
prevailed before, in things wherein you have employed them; for that
breeds confidence, and they will strive to maintain their
prescription. It is better to sound a person, with whom one deals afar
off than to fall upon the point at first; except you mean to
surprise him by some short question. It is better dealing with men
in appetite, than with those that are where they would be. If a man
deal with another upon conditions, the start or first performance is
all; which a man cannot reasonably demand, except either the nature of
the thing be such, which must go before; or else a man can persuade
the other party, that he shall still need him in some other thing;
or else that he be counted the honester man. All practice is to
discover, or to work. Men discover themselves in trust, in passion, at
unawares, and of necessity, when they would have somewhat done, and
cannot find an apt pretext. If you would work any man, you must either
know his nature and 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.


  Costly followers are not to be liked; lest while a man maketh his
train longer, he make his wings shorter. I reckon to be costly, not
them alone which charge the purse, but which are wearisome, and
importune in suits. Ordinary followers ought to challenge no higher
conditions, than countenance, recommendation, and protection from
wrongs. Factious followers are worse to be liked, which follow not
upon affection to him, with whom they range themselves, but upon
discontentment conceived against some other; whereupon commonly
ensueth that ill intelligence, that we many times see between great
personages. Likewise glorious followers, who make themselves as
trumpets of the commendation of those they follow, are full of
inconvenience; for they taint business through want of secrecy; and
they export honor from a man, and make him a return in envy. There
is a kind of followers likewise, which are dangerous, being indeed
espials; which inquire the secrets of the house, and bear tales of
them, to others. Yet such men, many times, are in great favor; for
they are officious, and commonly exchange tales. The following by
certain estates of men, answerable to that, which a great person
himself professeth (as of soldiers, to him that hath been employed
in the wars, and the like), hath ever been a thing civil, and well
taken, even in monarchies; so it be without too much pomp or
popularity. But the most honorable kind of following, is to be
followed as one, that apprehendeth to advance virtue, and desert, in
all sorts of persons. And yet, where there is no eminent odds in
sufficiency, it is better to take with the more passable, than with
the more able. And besides, to speak truth, in base times, active
men are of more use than virtuous. It is true that in government, it
is good to use men of one rank equally: for to countenance some
extraordinarily, is to make them insolent, and the rest discontent;
because they may claim a due. But contrariwise, in favor, to use men
with much difference and election is good; for it maketh the persons
preferred more thankful, and the rest more officious: because all is
of favor. It is good discretion, not to make too much of any man at
the first; because one cannot hold out that proportion. To be governed
(as we call it) by one is not safe; for it shows softness, and gives a
freedom, to scandal and disreputation; for those, that would not
censure or speak in of a man immediately, will talk more boldly of
those that are so great with them, and thereby wound their honor.
Yet to be distracted with many is worse; for it makes men to be of the
last impression, and fun of change. To take advice of some few
friends, is ever honorable; 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.


  Many ill matters and projects are undertaken; and private suits do
putrefy the public good. Many good matters, are undertaken with bad
minds; I mean not only corrupt minds, but crafty minds, that intend
not performance. Some embrace suits, which never mean to deal
effectually in them; but if they see there may be life in the
matter, by some other mean, they will be content to win a thank, or
take a second reward, or at least to make use, in the meantime, of the
suitor's hopes. Some take hold of suits, only for an occasion to cross
some other; or to make an information, whereof they could not
otherwise have apt pretext; without care what become of the suit, when
that turn is served; or, generally, to make other men's business a
kind of entertainment, to bring in their own. Nay, some undertake
suits, with a full purpose to let them fall; to the end to gratify the
adverse party, or competitor. Surely there is in some sort a right
in every suit; either a right of equity, if it be a suit of
controversy; or a right of desert, if it be a suit of petition. If
affection lead a man to favor the wrong side in justice, let him
rather use his countenance to compound the matter, than to carry it.
If affection lead a man to favor the less worthy in desert, let him do
it, without depraving or disabling the better deserver. In suits which
a man doth not well understand, it is good to refer them to some
friend of trust and judgment, that may report, whether he may deal
in them with honor: but let him choose well his referendaries, for
else he may be led by the nose. Suitors are so distasted with delays
and abuses, that plain dealing, in denying to deal in suits at
first, and reporting the success barely, and in challenging no more
thanks than one hath deserved, is grown not only honorable, but also
gracious. In suits of favor, the first coming ought to take little
place: so far forth, consideration may be had of his trust, that if
intelligence of the matter could not otherwise have been had, but by
him, advantage be not taken of the note, but the party left to his
other means; and in some sort recompensed, for his discovery. To be
ignorant of the value of a suit, is simplicity; as well as to be
ignorant of the right thereof, is want of conscience. Secrecy in
suits, is a great mean of obtaining; for voicing them to be in
forwardness, may discourage some kind of suitors, but doth quicken and
awake others. But timing of the suit is the principal. Timing, I
say, not only in respect of the person that should grant it, but in
respect of those, which are like to cross it. Let a man, in the choice
of his mean, rather choose the fittest mean, than the greatest mean;
and rather them that deal in certain things, than those that are
general. The reparation of a denial, is sometimes equal to the first
grant; if a man show himself neither dejected nor discontented.
Iniquum petas ut aequum feras is a good rule, where a man hath
strength of favor: but otherwise, a man were better rise in his
suit; for he, that would have ventured at first to have lost the
suitor, will not in the conclusion lose both the suitor, and his own
former favor. Nothing is thought so easy a request to a great
person, as his letter; and yet, if it be not in a good cause, it is so
much out of his reputation. There are no worse instruments, than these
general contrivers of suits; for they are but a kind of poison, and
infection, to public proceedings.


  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 that 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 humor of a scholar. They perfect nature, and are perfected by
experience: for natural abilities are like natural plants, that need
proyning, by study; and studies themselves, do give forth directions
too much at large, except they be bounded in by experience. Crafty men
contemn studies, simple men admire them, and wise men use them; for
they teach not their own use; but that is a wisdom without them, and
above them, won by observation. 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 stond 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 man's 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 up one
thing to prove and illustrate another, let him study the lawyers'
cases. So every defect of the mind, may have a special receipt.


  Many have an opinion not wise, that for a prince to govern his
estate, or for a great person to govern his proceedings, according
to the respect of factions, is a principal part of policy; whereas
contrariwise, the chiefest wisdom, is either in ordering those
things which are general, and wherein men of several factions do
nevertheless agree; or in dealing with correspondence to particular
persons, one by one. But I say not that the considerations of
factions, is to be neglected. Mean men, in their rising, must
adhere; but great men, that have strength in themselves, were better
to maintain themselves indifferent, and neutral. Yet even in
beginners, to adhere so moderately, as he be a man of the one faction,
which is most passable with the other, commonly giveth best way. The
lower and weaker faction, is the firmer in conjunction; and it is
often seen, that a few that are stiff, do tire out a greater number,
that are more moderate. When one of the factions is extinguished,
the remaining subdivideth; as the faction between Lucullus, and the
rest of the nobles of the senate (which they called Optimates) held
out awhile, against the faction of Pompey and Caesar; but when the
senate's authority was pulled down, Caesar and Pompey soon after
brake. The faction or party of Antonius and Octavianus Caesar, against
Brutus and Cassius, held out likewise for a time; but when Brutus
and Cassius were overthrown, then soon after, Antonius and
Octavianus brake and subdivided. These examples are of wars, but the
same holdeth in private factions. And therefore, those that are
seconds in factions, do many times, when the faction subdivideth,
prove principals; but many times also, they prove ciphers and
cashiered; for many a man's strength is in opposition; and when that
faileth, he groweth out of use. It is commonly seen, that men, once
placed, take in with the contrary faction, to that by which they
enter: thinking belike, that they have the first sure, and now are
ready for a new purchase. The traitor in faction, lightly goeth away
with it; for when matters have stuck long in balancing, the winning of
some one man casteth them, and he getteth all the thanks. The even
carriage between two factions, proceedeth not always of moderation,
but of a trueness to a man's self, with end to make use of both.
Certainly in Italy, they hold it a little suspect in popes, when
they have often in their mouth Padre commune: and take it to be a sign
of one, that meaneth to refer all to the greatness of his own house.
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. When factions are canied 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.


  He that is only real, had need have exceeding great parts of virtue;
as the stone had need to be rich, that is set without foil. But if a
man mark it well, it is, in praise and commendation of men, as it is
in gettings and gains: for the proverb is true, That light gains
make heavy purses; for light gains come thick, whereas great, come but
now and then. So it is true, that small matters win great
commendation, because they are continually in use and in note: whereas
the occasion of any great virtue, cometh but on festivals. Therefore
it doth much add to a man's reputation, and is (as Queen Isabella
said) like perpetual letters commendatory, to have good forms. To
attain them, it almost sufficeth not to despise them; for so shall a
man observe them in others; and let him trust himself with the rest.
For if he labor too much to express them, he shall lose their grace;
which is to be natural and unaffected. Some men's behavior 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 and imprinting
passages amongst compliments, which is of singular use, if a man can
hit upon it. Amongst a man's peers, a man shall be sure of
familiarity; and therefore it is good, a little to keep state. Amongst
a man's 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 satiety, maketh himself cheap.
To apply one's self to others, is good; so it be with demonstration,
that a man doth it upon regard, and not upon facility. It is a good
precept generally, in seconding another, yet to add somewhat of
one's own: as if you will grant his opinion, let it be with some
distinction; if you will follow his motion, let it be with
condition; if you allow his counsel let it be with alleging further
reason. Men had need beware, how they be too perfect in compliments;
for be they never so sufficient otherwise, their enviers 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 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. Men's behavior should be, like their apparel, not too
strait or point device, but free for exercise or motion.


  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 naught; 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 of perceiving at an. But shows, and
species virtutibus similes, serve best with them. Certainly fame is
like a river, that beareth up things light and swoln, 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 odors of ointments are more durable, than those of
flowers. 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 archflatterer, which is a man's 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. Some praises come of good wishes and
respects, which is a form due, in civility, to kings and great
persons, laudando praecipere, 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: pessimum genus inimicorum laudantium; insomuch as it was
a proverb, amongst the Grecians, that he that was praised to his hurt,
should have a push rise upon his nose; as we say, that a blister
will rise upon one's tongue, that tells a lie. Certainly moderate
praise, used with opportunity, and not vulgar, is that which doth
the good. 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 man's self, cannot be decent,
except it be in rare cases; but to praise a man's office or
profession, he may do it with good grace, and with a kind of
magnanimity. The cardinals of Rome, which are theologues, and
friars, and Schoolmen, have a phrase of notable contempt and scorn
towards civil business: for they call all temporal business of wars,
embassages, judicature, and other employments, sbirrerie, which is
under-sheriffries; as if they were but matters, for under-sheriffs and
catchpoles: though many times those under-sheriffries do more good,
than their high speculations. 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.


  It was prettily devised of AEsop, The fly sat upon the axle-tree
of the chariot wheel, and said, What a dust do I raise! So are there
some vain persons, that whatsoever goeth alone, or moveth upon greater
means, if they have never so little hand in it, they think it is
they that carry it. They that are glorious, must needs be factious;
for an bravery stands upon comparisons. They must needs be violent, to
make good their own vaunts. Neither can they be secret, and
therefore not effectual; but according to the French proverb, Beaucoup
de bruit, peu de fruit; Much bruit little fruit. Yet certainly,
there is use of this quality in civil affairs. Where there is an
opinion and fame to be created, either of virtue or greatness, these
men are good trumpeters. Again, as Titus Livius noteth, in the case of
Antiochus and the AEtolians, There are sometimes great effects, of
cross lies; as if a man, that negotiates between two princes, to
draw them to join in a war against the third, doth extol the forces of
either of them, above measure, the one to the other: and sometimes
he that deals between man and man, raiseth his own credit with both,
by pretending greater interest than he hath in either. And in these
and the like kinds, it often falls out, that somewhat is produced of
nothing; for lies are sufficient to breed opinion, and opinion
brings on substance. In militar commanders and soldiers, vain-glory is
an essential point; for as iron sharpens iron, so by glory, one
courage sharpeneth another. In cases of great enterprise upon charge
and adventure, a composition of glorious natures, doth put life into
business; and those that are of solid and sober natures, have more
of the ballast, than of the sail. In fame of leaming, the flight
will be slow without some feathers of ostentation. Qui de
contemnenda gloria libros scribunt, nomen, suuminscribunt. Socrates,
Aristotle, Galen, were men full of ostentation. Certainly vain-glory
helpeth to perpetuate a man's memory; and virtue was never so
beholding to human nature, as it received his 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. But all this while, when I speak of vain-glory, I mean not
of that property, that Tacitus doth attribute to Mucianus; Omnium quae
dixerat feceratque arte quadam ostentator: for that proceeds not of
vanity, but of natural magnanimity and discretion; and in some
persons, is not only comely, but gracious. For excusations,
cessions, modesty itself well governed, are but arts of ostentation.
And amongst those arts, there is none better than that which Plinius
Secundus speaketh of, which is to be liberal of praise and
commendation to others, in that, wherein a man's self hath any
perfection. For saith Pliny, very wittily, In commending another,
you do yourself right; for he that you commend, is either superior
to you in that you commend, or inferior. If he be inferior, if he be
to be commended, you much more; if he be superior, if he be not to
be commended, you much less. Glorious men are the scorn of wise men,
the admiration of fools, the idols of parasites, and the slaves of
their own vaunts.


  The winning of honor, is but the revealing of a man's virtue and
worth, without disadvantage. For some in their actions, do woo and
effect honor 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 honor, than by
effecting 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 honor, that
entereth into any action, the failing wherein may disgrace him, more
than the carrying of it through, can honor him. Honor 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 honor, in outshooting them, if he can, in
their own bow. Discreet followers and servants, help much to
reputation. Omnis fama a domesticis emanat. Envy, which is the
canker of honor, is best extinguished by declaring a man's self in his
ends, rather to seek merit than fame; and by attributing a man's
successes, rather to divine Providence and felicity, than to his own
virtue or policy.

  The true marshalling of the degrees of sovereign honor, are these:
In the first place are conditores imperiorum, founders of states and
commonwealths; such as were Romulus, Cyrus, Caesar, Ottoman, Ismael.
In the second place are legislatores, lawgivers; which are also called
second founders, or perpetui principes, because they govern by their
ordinances after they are gone; such were Lycurgus, Solon,
Justinian, Eadgar, Alphonsus of Castile, the Wise, that made the Siete
Partidas. In the third place are liberatores, or salvatores, such as
compound the long miseries of civil wars, or deliver their countries
from servitude of strangers or tyrants; as Augustus Caesar,
Vespasianus, Aurelianus, Theodoricus, King Henry the Seventh of
England, King Henry the Fourth of France. In the fourth place are
propagatores or propugnatores imperii; such as in honorable wars
enlarge their territories, or make noble defence against invaders. And
in the last place are patres patriae; which reign justly, and make the
times good wherein they live. Both which last kinds need no
examples, they are in such number. Degrees of honor, in subjects, are,
first participes curarum, those upon whom, princes do discharge the
greatest weight of their affairs; their right hands, as we call
them. The next are duces belli, great leaders in war; such as are
princes' lieutenants, and do them notable services in the wars. The
third are gratiosi, favorites; such as exceed not this scantling, to
be solace to the sovereign, and harmless to the people. And the
fourth, negotiis pares; such as have great places under princes, and
execute their places, with sufficiency. There is an honor, likewise,
which may be ranked amongst the greatest, which happeneth rarely; that
is, of such as sacrifice themselves to death or danger for the good of
their country; as was M. Regulus, and the two Decii.


  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 pretext 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. Cursed (saith the law) is he that removeth the landmark. The
mislayer of a mere-stone is to blame. But it is the unjust judge, that
is the capital remover of landmarks, when he defineth amiss, of
lands and property. One foul sentence doth more hurt, than many foul
examples. For these do but corrupt the stream, the other corrupteth
the fountain. So with Solomon, Fons turbatus, et vena corrupta, est
justus cadens in causa sua coram adversario. The office of judges
may have reference unto the parties that use, unto the advocates
that plead, unto the clerks and ministers of justice underneath
them, and to the sovereign or state above them.

  First, for the causes or parties that sue. There be (saith the
Scripture) that turn judgment, into wormwood; and surely there be
also, that turn it into vinegar; for injustice maketh it bitter, and
delays make it sour. 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. A judge ought to prepare his way to a just sentence, as God
useth to prepare his way, by raising valleys and taking down hills: so
when there appeareth on either side an high hand, violent prosecution,
cunning advantages taken, combination, power, great counsel, then is
the virtue of a judge seen, to make inequality equal; that he may
plant his judgment as upon an even ground. Qui fortiter emungit,
elicit sanguinem; and where the wine-press is hard wrought, it
yields a harsh wine, that tastes of the grape-stone. Judges must
beware of hard constructions, and strained inferences; for there is no
worse torture, than the torture of laws. Specially in case of laws
penal, they ought to have care, that that was meant for terror, be not
turned into rigor; and that they bring not upon the people, that
shower whereof the Scripture speaketh, Pluet super eos laqueos; for
penal laws pressed, are a shower of snares upon the people.
Therefore let penal laws, if they have been sleepers of long, or if
they be grown unfit for the present time, be by wise judges confined
in the execution: Judicis officium est, ut res, ita tempora rerum,
etc. 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.

  Secondly, for the advocates and counsel that plead. 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 staid and equal attention. 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 favorites; which cannot
but cause multiplication of fees, and suspicion of by-ways. 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 overbold defence. And
let not the counsel at the bar, chop with the judge, nor wind
himself into the handling of the cause anew, after the judge hath
declared his sentence; but, on the other side, let not the judge
meet the cause half way, nor give occasion to the party, to say his
counsel or proofs were not heard.

  Thirdly, for that that clerks and ministers. The place of justice is
an hallowed place; and therefore not only the bench, but the
foot-place; and precincts and purprise thereof, ought to be
preserved without scandal and corruption. For certainly grapes (as the
Scripture saith) will not be gathered of thorns or thistles; either
can justice yield her fruit with sweetness, amongst the briars and
brambles of catching and polling clerks, and ministers. The attendance
of courts, is subject to four bad instruments. First, certain
persons that are sowers of suits; which make the court swell, and
the country pine. The second sort is of those, that engage courts in
quarrels of jurisdiction, and are not truly amici curiae, but parasiti
curiae, in puffing a court up beyond her bounds, for their own
scraps and advantage. The third sort, is of those that may be
accounted the left hands of courts; persons that are full of nimble
and sinister tricks and shifts, whereby they pervert the plain and
direct courses of courts, and bring justice into oblique lines and
labyrinths. And the fourth, is the poller and exacter of fees; which
justifies the common resemblance of the courts of justice, to the bush
whereunto, while the sheep flies for defence in weather, he is sure to
lose part of his fleece. On the other side, an ancient clerk,
skilful in precedents, wary in proceeding, and understanding in the
business of the court, is an excellent finger of a court; and doth
many times point the way to the judge himself.

  Fourthly, for that which may concern the sovereign and estate.
Judges ought above all to remember the conclusion of the Roman
Twelve Tables; Salus populi suprema lex; and to know that laws, except
they be in order to that end, are but things captious, and oracles not
well inspired. Therefore it is an happy thing in a state, when kings
and states do often consult with judges; and again, when judges do
often consult with the king and state: the one, when there is matter
of law, intervenient in business of state; the other, when there is
some consideration of state, intervenient in matter of law. For many
times the things deduced to judgment may be meum and tuum, when the
reason and consequence thereof may trench to point of estate: I call
matter of estate, not only the parts of sovereignty, but whatsoever
introduceth any great alteration, or dangerous precedent; or
concerneth manifestly any great portion of people. And let no man
weakly conceive, that just laws and true policy have any antipathy;
for they are like the spirits and sinews, that one moves with the
other. Let judges also remember, that Solomon's throne was supported
by lions on both sides: let them be lions, but yet lions under the
throne; being circumspect that they do not check or oppose any
points of sovereignty. Let not judges also be 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 ea utatur legitime.


  To seek to extinguish anger utterly, is but a bravery of the Stoics.
We have better oracles: Be angry, but sin not. Let not the sun go down
upon your anger. Anger must be limited and confined, both in race
and in time. We will first speak how the natural inclination and habit
to be angry, may be attempted and calmed. Secondly, how the particular
motions of anger may be repressed, or at least refrained from doing
mischief. Thirdly, how to raise anger, or appease anger in another.

  For the first; there is no other way but to meditate, and ruminate
well upon the effects of anger, how it troubles man's 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 ruin, 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. Men must not turn bees;

        ... animasque in vulnere ponunt.

  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.

  For the second point; the causes and motives of anger, are chiefly
three. First, to be too sensible of hurt; for no man is angry, that
feels not himself hurt; and therefore tender and delicate persons must
needs be oft angry; they have so many things to trouble them, which
more robust natures have little sense of. The next is, the
apprehension and construction of the injury offered, to be, in the
circumstances thereof, full of contempt: for contempt is that, which
putteth an edge upon anger, as much or more than the hurt itself.
And therefore, when men are ingenious in picking out circumstances
of contempt, they do kindle their anger much. Lastly, opinion of the
touch of a man's reputation, doth multiply and sharpen anger.
Wherein the remedy is, that a man should have, as Consalvo was wont to
say, telam honoris crassiorem. But in all refrainings of anger, it
is the best remedy to win time; and to make a man's self believe, that
the opportunity of his revenge is not yet come, but that he foresees a
time for it; and so to still himself in the meantime, and reserve 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 cummunia 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.

  For raising and appeasing anger in another; it is done chiefly by
choosing of times, when men are frowardest and worst disposed, to
incense them. Again, by gathering (as was touched before) all that you
can find out, to aggravate the contempt. And the two remedies are by
the contraries. The former to take good times, when first to relate to
a man an angry business; for the first impression is much; and the
other is, to sever, as much as may be, the construction of the
injury from the point of contempt; imputing it to misunderstanding,
fear, passion, or what you will.


  Solomon saith, There is no new thing upon the earth. So that as
Plato had an imagination, That all knowledge was but remembrance; so
Solomon giveth his sentence, That all novelty is but oblivion. Whereby
you may see, that the river of Lethe runneth as well above ground as
below. There is an abstruse astrologer that saith, If it were not
for two things that are constant (the one is, that the fixed stars
ever stand a like distance one from another, and never come nearer
together, nor go further asunder; the other, that the diurnal motion
perpetually keepeth time), no individual would last one moment.
Certain it is, that the matter is in a perpetual flux, and never at
a stay. The great winding-sheets, that bury all things in oblivion,
are two; deluges and earthquakes. As for conflagrations and great
droughts, they do not merely dispeople and destroy. Phadton's car went
but a day. And the three years' drought in the time of Elias, was
but particular, and left people alive. As for the great burnings by
lightnings, which are often in the West Indies, they are but narrow.
But in the other two destructions, by deluge and earthquake, it is
further to be noted, that the remnant of people which hap to be
reserved, are commonly ignorant and mountainous people, that can
give no account of the time past; so that the oblivion is all one,
as if none had been left. If you consider well of the people of the
West Indies, it is very probable that they are a newer or a younger
people, than the people of the Old World. And it is much more
likely, that the destruction that hath heretofore been there, was
not by earthquakes (as the Egyptian priest told Solon concerning the
island of Atlantis, that it was swallowed by an earthquake), but
rather that it was desolated by a particular deluge. For earthquakes
are seldom in those parts. But on the other side, they have such
pouring rivers, as the rivers of Asia and Africk and Europe, are but
brooks to them. Their Andes, likewise, or mountains, are far higher
than those with us; whereby it seems, that the remnants of
generation of men, were in such a particular deluge saved. As for
the observation that Machiavel hath, that the jealousy of sects,
doth much extinguish the memory of things; traducing Gregory the
Great, that he did what in him lay, to extinguish all heathen
antiquities; I do not find that those zeals do any great effects,
nor last long; as it appeared in the succession of Sabinian, who did
revive the former antiquities.

  The vicissitude of mutations in the superior globe, are no fit
matter for this present argument. It may be, Plato's great year, if
the world should last so long, would have some effect; not in renewing
the state of like individuals (for that is the fume of those, that
conceive the celestial bodies have more accurate influences upon these
things below, than indeed they have), but in gross. Comets, out of
question, have likewise power and effect, over the gross and mass of
things; but they are rather gazed upon, and waited upon in their
journey, than wisely observed in their effects; specially in their
respective effects; that is, what kind of comet, for magnitude, color,
version of the beams, placing in the reign of heaven, or lasting,
produceth what kind of effects.

  There is a toy which I have heard, and I would not have it given
over, but waited upon a little. They say it is observed in the Low
Countries (I know not in what part) that every five and thirty
years, the same kind and suit of years and weathers come about
again; as great frosts, great wet, great droughts, warm winters,
summers with little heat, and the like; and they call it the Prime. It
is a thing I do the rather mention, because, computing backwards, I
have found some concurrence.

  But to leave these points of nature, and to come to men. greatest
vicissitude of things amongst men, is the vicissitude of sects and
religions. For those orbs rule in men's minds most. The true
religion is built upon the rock; the rest are tossed, upon the waves
of time. To speak, therefore, of the causes of new sects; and to
give some counsel concerning them, as far as the weakness of human
judgment can give stay, to so great revolutions.

  When the religion formerly received, is rent by discords; and when
the holiness of the professors of religion, is decayed and full of
scandal; and withal the times be stupid, ignorant, and barbarous;
you may doubt the springing up of a new sect; if then also, there
should arise any extravagant and strange spirit, to make himself
author thereof. All which points held, when Mahomet published his law.
If a new sect have not two properties, fear it not; for it will not
spread. The one is the supplanting, or the opposing, of authority
established; for nothing is more popular than that. The other is the
giving license to pleasures, and a voluptuous life. For as for
speculative heresies (such as were in ancient times the Arians, and
now the Arminians), though they work mightily upon men's wits, yet
they do not produce any great alterations in states; except it be by
the help of civil occasions. There be three manner of plantations of
new sects. By the power of signs and miracles; by the eloquence, and
wisdom, of speech and persuasion; and by the sword. For martyrdoms,
I reckon them amongst miracles; because they seem to exceed the
strength of human nature: and I may do the like, of superlative and
admirable holiness of life. Surely there is no better way, to stop the
rising of new sects and schisms, than to reform abuses; to compound
the smaller differences; to proceed mildly, and not with sanguinary
persecutions; and rather to take off the principal authors by
winning and advancing them, than to enrage them by violence and

  The changes and vicissitude in wars are many; but chiefly in three
things; in the seats or stages of the war; in the weapons; and in
the manner of the conduct. Wars in ancient time, seemed more to move
from east to west; for the Persians, Assyrians, Arabians, Tartars
(which were the invaders) were all eastern people. It is true, the
Gauls were western; but we read but of two incursions of theirs: the
one to Gallo-Grecia, the other to Rome. But east and west have no
certain points of heaven; and no more have the wars either from the
east or west, any certainty of observation. But north and south are
fixed; and it hath seldom or never been seen that the far southern
people have invaded the northern, but contrariwise. Whereby it is
manifest that the northern tract of the world, is in nature the more
martial region: be it in respect of the stars of that hemisphere; or
of the great continents that are upon the north, whereas the south
part, for aught that is known, is almost all sea; or (which is most
apparent) of the cold of the northern parts, which is that which,
without aid of discipline, doth make the bodies hardest, and the
courages warmest.

  Upon the breaking and shivering of a great state and empire, you may
be sure to have wars. For great empires, while they stand, do enervate
and destroy the forces of the natives which they have subdued, resting
upon their own protecting forces; and then when they fail also, all
goes to ruin, and they become a prey. So was it in the decay of the
Roman empire; and likewise in the empire of Almaigne, after Charles
the Great, every bird taking a feather; and were not unlike to
befall to Spain, if it should break. The great accessions and unions
of kingdoms, do likewise stir up wars; for when a state grows to an
over-power, it is like a great flood, that will be sure to overflow.
As it hath been seen in the states of Rome, Turkey, Spain, and others.
Look when the world hath fewest barbarous peoples, but such as
commonly will not marry or generate, except they know means to live
(as it is almost everywhere at this day, except Tartary), there is
no danger of inundations of people; but when there be great shoals
of people, which go on to populate, without foreseeing means of life
and sustentation, it is of necessity that once in an age or two,
they discharge a portion of their people upon other nations; which the
ancient northern people were wont to do by lot; casting lots what part
should stay at home, and what should seek their fortunes. When a
warlike state grows soft and effeminate, they may be sure of a war.
For commonly such states are grown rich in the time of their
degenerating; and so the prey inviteth, and their decay in valor,
encourageth a war.

  As for the weapons, it hardly falleth under rule and observation:
yet we see even they, have returns and vicissitudes. For certain it
is, that ordnance was known in the city of the Oxidrakes in India; and
was that, which the Macedonians called thunder and lightning, and
magic. And it is well known that the use of ordnance, hath been in
China above two thousand years. The conditions of weapons, and their
improvement, are; First, the fetching afar off; for that outruns the
danger; as it is seen in ordnance and muskets. Secondly, the
strength of the percussion; wherein likewise ordnance do exceed all
arietations and ancient inventions. The third is, the commodious use
of them; as that they may serve in all weathers; that the carriage may
be light and manageable; and the like.

  For the conduct of the war: at the first, men rested extremely
upon number: they did put the wars likewise upon main force and valor;
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 advantages of place, cunning diversions, and the
like: and they grew more skilful in the ordering of their battles.

  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 merchandize. Learning
hath his infancy, when it is but beginning and almost childish; then
his youth, when it is luxuriant and juvenile; then his strength of
years, when it is solid and reduced; and lastly, his old age, when
it waxeth dry and exhaust. But it is not good to look too long upon
these turning wheels of vicissitude, lest we become giddy. As for
the philology of them, that is but a circle of tales, and therefore
not fit for this writing.


  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. But that which passeth all the rest is: They do recount that
the Earth, mother of the giants that made war against Jupiter, and
were by him destroyed, thereupon in an anger brought forth Fame. For
certain it is, that rebels, figured by the giants, and seditious fames
and libels, are but brothers and sisters, masculine and feminine.
But now, if a man can tame this monster, and bring her to feed at
the hand, and govern her, and with her fly other ravening fowl and
kill them, it is somewhat worth. But we are infected with the style of
the poets. To speak now in a sad and serious manner: There is not,
in all the politics, a place less handled and more worthy to be
handled, than this of fame. We will therefore speak of these points:
What are false fames; and what are true fames; and how they may be
best discerned; how fames may be sown, and raised; how they may be
spread, and multiplied; and how they may be checked, and laid dead.
And other things concerning the nature of fame. Fame is of that force,
as there is scarcely any great action, wherein it hath not a great
part; especially in the war. Mucianus undid Vitellius, by a fame
that he scattered, that Vitellius had in purpose to remove the legions
of Syria into Germany, and the legions of Germany into Syria;
whereupon the legions of Syria were infinitely inflamed. Julius Caesar
took Pompey unprovided, and laid asleep his industry and preparations,
by a fame that he cunningly gave out: Caesar's own soldiers loved
him not, and being wearied with the wars, and laden with the spoils of
Gaul, would forsake him, as soon as he came into Italy. Livia
settled all things for the succession of her son Tiberius, by
continual giving out, that her husband Augustus was upon recovery
and amendment, and it is an usual thing with the pashas, to conceal
the death of the Great Turk from the janizaries and men of war, to
save the sacking of Constantinople and other towns, as their manner
is. Themistocles made Xerxes, king of Persia, post apace out of
Grecia, by giving out, that the Grecians had a purpose to break his
bridge of ships, which he had made athwart Hellespont. There be a
thousand such like examples; and the more they are, the less they need
to be repeated; because a man meeteth with them everywhere.
Therefore let all wise governors have as great a watch and care over
fames, as they have of the actions and designs themselves.

            [This essay was not finished]


  Abridgment:  miniature

  Absurd:  stupid, unpolished

  Abuse:  cheat, deceive

  Aculeate:  stinging

  Adamant:  loadstone

  Adust:  scorched

  Advoutress:  adultress

  Affect:  like, desire

  Antic:  clown

  Appose:  question

  Arietation:  battering-ram

  Audit:  revenue

  Avoidance:  secret outlet

  Battle:  battalion

  Bestow:  settle in life

  Blanch:  flatter, evade

  Brave:  boastful

  Bravery:  boast, ostentation

  Broke:  deal in brokerage

  Broken:  shine by comparison

  Broken music:  part music

  Cabinet:  secret

  Calendar:  weather forecast

  Card:  chart, map

  Care not to:   are reckless

  Cast:  plan

  Cat:  cate, cake

  Charge and adventure:  cost and risk

  Check with:  interfere

  Chop:  bandy words

  Civil:  peaceful

  Close:  secret, secretive

  Collect:  infer

  Compound:  compromise

  Consent:  agreement

  Curious:  elaborate

  Custom:  import duties

  Deceive:  rob

  Derive:  divert

  Difficileness:  moroseness

  Discover:  reveal

  Donative:  money gift

  Doubt:  fear

  Equipollent:  equally powerful

  Espial:  spy

  Estate:  state

  Facility:  of easy persuasion

  Fair:  rather

  Fame:  rumor

  Favor: feature

  Flashy:  insipid

  Foot-pace:  lobby

  Foreseen:  guarded against

  Froward:  stubborn

  Futile:  babbling

  Globe:  complete body

  Glorious:  showy, boastful

  Humorous:  capricious

  Hundred poll:  hundredth head

  Impertinent:  irrelevant

  Implicit:  entangled

  In a mean:  in moderation

  Insmoother:  suppressed

  Indifferent:  impartial

  Intend:  attend to

  Knap:  knoll

  Leese:  lose

  Let:  hinder

  Loose:  shot

  Lot:  spell

  Lurch:  intercept

  Make:  profit, get

  Manage:  train

  Mate:  conquer

  Material:  business-like

  Mere-stone:  boundary stone

  Muniting:  fortifying

  Nerve:  sinew

  Obnoxious:  subservient, liable

  Oes:  round spangles

  Pair:  impair

  Pardon:  allowance

  Passable:  mediocre

  Pine-apple-tree:  pine

  Plantation:  colony

  Platform:  plan

  Plausible:  praiseworthy

  Point device:  excessively precise

  Politic:  politician

  Poll:  extort

  Poser:  examiner

  Practice:  plotting

  Preoccupate:  anticipate

  Prest:  prepared

  Prick:  plant

  Proper:  personal

  Prospective:  steroscope

  Proyne:  prune

  Purprise:  enclosure

  Push:  pimple

  Quarrel:  pretext

  Quech:  flinch

  Reason:  principle

  Recamera:  retiring-room

  return:  reaction

  Return:  wing running back

  Rise:  dignity

  Round:  straight

  Save: account for

  Scantling:  measure

  Seel:  blind

  shrewd:  mischievous

  Sort:  associate

  Spial:  spy

  Staddle:  sapling

  Steal:  do secretly

  Stirp:  family

  Stond:  stop, stand

  Stove: hot-housed

  Style:  title

  Success:  outcome

  Sumptuary law:  law against extravagance

  Superior globe:  the heavens

  Temper:  proportion

  Tendering:  nursing

  Tract:  line, trait

  Travel:  travail, labor

  Treaties:  treatises

  Trench to:  touch

  Trivial:  common

  Turquet:  Turkish dwarf

  Under foot:  below value

  Unready:  untrained

  Usury:  interest

  Value:  certify

  Virtuous:  able

  Votary: vowed

  Wanton:  spoiled

  Wood:  maze

  Work:  manage, utilize



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