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 themselves?
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
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
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
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 invisible.
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 secrecy.
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
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
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
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
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 remedies.
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
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
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 war.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 enter.
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 over–formal.
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 humanity.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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 general.
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
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
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 verses:
At domus Aeneae cunctis dominabitur oris,
Et nati natorum, et qui nascentur ab illis.
A prophecy, as it
seems, of the
Saecula seris, quibus Oceanus
Vincula rerum laxet, et ingens
Pateat Tellus, Tiphysque novos
Detegat orbes; nec sit terris
prophecy of the discovery of
When hempe is spun
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
When that that come and gone,
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
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 best:
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
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
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
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
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 room.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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 bitterness.
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
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
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
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
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Absurd: stupid, unpolished
Abuse: cheat, deceive
Affect: like, desire
Avoidance: secret outlet
Bestow: settle in life
Blanch: flatter, evade
Bravery: boast, ostentation
Broke: deal in brokerage
Broken: shine by comparison
Broken music: part music
Calendar: weather forecast
Card: chart, map
Care not to: are reckless
Cat: cate, cake
Charge and adventure: cost and risk
Check with: interfere
Chop: bandy words
Close: secret, secretive
Custom: import duties
Donative: money gift
Equipollent: equally powerful
Facility: of easy persuasion
Foreseen: guarded against
Globe: complete body
Glorious: showy, boastful
Hundred poll: hundredth head
In a mean: in moderation
Intend: attend to
Make: profit, get
Mere–stone: boundary stone
Obnoxious: subservient, liable
Oes: round spangles
Point device: excessively precise
Return: wing running back
Save: account for
Steal: do secretly
Stond: stop, stand
Sumptuary law: law against extravagance
Superior globe: the heavens
Tract: line, trait
Travel: travail, labor
Trench to: touch
Turquet: Turkish dwarf
Under foot: below value
Work: manage, utilize