Francis Bacon.

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failed to have his nose disfigured with a pustule. Again this
color deceives, because enemies sometimes use praises like pref-
aces, that they may the more freely calumniate afterwards.
On the other side, it deceives by the craft of friends, who also


sometimes acknowledge our faults, and speak of them not as
compelled thereto by any force of truth, but touch only such as
may do little hurt, and make us, in everything else, the best
men in the world. And lastly, it deceives, because friends also
use their reproofs, as enemies do their commendations, by way
of preface, that they may afterwards launch out more fully in
our praises.

Sophism 3

To be deptived of a good, is an evil; and to be deprived of an

evil, a good

This color deceives two ways ; viz., either by the comparison
of good and evil, or by the succession of good to good, or evil
to evil. i. By comparison: thus if it were good for mankind
to be deprived of acorns, it follows not that such food was bad,
but that acorns were good, though bread be better. Nor, if it
were an evil for the people of Sicily to be deprived of Dionysius
the Elder, does it follow that the same Dionysius was a good
prince, but that he was less evil than Dionysius the Younger.
2. By succession : for the privation of a good does not always
give place to an evil, but sometimes to a greater good — as when
the blossom falls, the fruit succeeds. Nor does the privation of
an evil always give place to a good, but sometimes to a greater
evil ; for Milo, by the death of his enemy Clodius, lost a fair
harvest of glory.

Sophism 4

What approaches to good, is good; and what recedes from good,

is evil

It is almost universal, that things agreeing in nature agree
also in place, and that things disagreeing in nature differ as
widely in situation ; for all things have an appetite of associating
with what is agreeable, and of repelling what is disagreeable to

This color deceives three ways ; viz., by depriving, obscur-
ing, and protecting. I. By depriving; for the largest things,
and most excellent in their kind, attract all they can to them-
selves, and leave what is next them destitute ; thus the under-
wood growing near a large tree is the poorest wood of the field,
because the tree deprives it of sap and nourishment — whence
it was well said, that the servants of the rich are the greatest
slaves ; and it was witty of him who compared the inferior at-


tendants in the courts of princes to the vigils of feast-days,
which, though nearest to feast-days, are themselves but meagre.
2. By obscuring : for it is also the nature of excellent things in
their kind, though they do not impoverish the substance of what
lies near them, yet to overshadow and obscure it ; whence the
astrologers say, that though in all the planets conjunction is the
most perfect amity, yet the sun, though good in aspect, is evil
in conjunction. 3. By protecting: for things come together,
not only from a similitude of nature, but even what is evil flies
to that which is good (especially in civil society) for conceal-
ment and protection. Thus hypocrisy draws near to religion
for shelter :

" Ssepe latet vitium proximitate boni." — Ovid. w

So sanctuary-men, who were commonly malefactors, used to
be nearest the priests and prelates; for the majesty of good
things is such, that the confines of them are reverend. On the
other side, good draws near to evil, not for society, but for con-
versation and reformation ; and hence physicians visit the sick
more than the sound, and hence it was objected to our Saviour,
that he conversed with publicans and sinners.o

Sophism 5

As all parties challenge the first place, that to which the rest
unanimously give the second seems the best; each taking the
first place out of affection to itself, but giving the second
where it is really due

Thus Cicero attempted to prove the Academics to be the best
sect ; for, saith he, " Ask a Stoic which philosophy is best, and
he will prefer his own ; then ask him which is the next best,
and he will confess, the Academics. Ask an Epicurean the
same question, who can scarce endure the Stoic, and as soon as
he hath placed his own sect, he places the Academics next
him." p So if a prince separately examined several competitors
for a place, perhaps the ablest and most deserving man would
have most second voices.

This color deceives in respect of envy; for men are accus-
tomed, next after themselves and their own faction, to prefer
those that are softest and most pliable, with intent to exclude
such as would obstruct their measures; whence this color of

i8 4 BACON

meliority and pre-eminence becomes a sign of enervation and

Sophism 6

That is absolutely best the excellence whereof is greatest

This color has these forms — let us not wander in generals,
let us compare particular with particular, etc., and though it
seem strong, and rather logical than rhetorical, yet it is some-
times a fallacy: — i. Because many things are exposed to great
danger, but if they escape, prove more excellent than others ;
whence their kind is inferior, as being subject to accident and
miscarriage, though more noble in the individual. Thus, to
instance, in the blossoms of March, one whereof, according to
the French proverb, is, if it escape accidents, worth ten blos-
soms of May ; so that though in general the blossoms of May
excel the blossoms of March, yet in individuals the best blos-
soms of March may be preferred to the best of May. 2. Be-
cause the nature of things in some kinds or species is more
equal, and in others more unequal. Thus warm climates gen-
erally produce people of a sharper genius than cold ones ; yet
the extraordinary geniuses of cold countries usually excel the
extraordinary geniuses of the warmer. So in the case of
armies, if the cause were tried by single combat, the victory
might often go on the one side, but if by a pitched battle, on the
other; for excellencies and superiorities are rather accidental
things, whilst kinds are governed by nature or discipline. 3.
Lastly, many kinds have much refuse, which countervails what
they have of excellent ; and, therefore, though metal be general-
ly more precious than stone, yet a diamond is more precious
than gold.

Sophism 7

What keeps a matter safe and entire, is good; but what leaves
no retreat, is bad: for inability to retire is a kind of impotency,
but power is a good

Thus TEsop feigned that two frogs consulting together in a
time of drought what was to be done, the one proposed going
down into a deep well, because probably the water would not
fail there, but the other answered, " If it should fail there too,
how shall we get up again ?" And the foundation of the color
lies here, that human actions are so uncertain and exposed to
danger, that the best condition seems to be that which has most


outlets. And this persuasion turns upon such forms as these —
You shall engage yourself; You shall not be your own carver;
You shall keep the matter in your hands, etc.

The fallacy of the sophism lies here: — 1. Because fortune
presses so close upon human affairs, that some resolution is
necessary ; for not to resolve is to resolve, so that irresolution
frequently entangles us in necessities more than resolving. And
this seems to be a disease of the mind, like to that of covetous-
ness, only transferred from the desire of possessing riches to the
desire of free-will and power ; for as the covetous man enjoys no
part of his possessions, for fear of lessening them, so the un-
resolved man executes nothing, that he may not abridge his
freedom and power of acting. 2. Because necessity and the
fortune of the throw add a spur to the mind ; whence that say-
ing, " In other respects equal, but in necessity superior." q

Sophism 8

That evil we bring upon ourselves, is greater; and that proceed-
ing from without us, less

Because remorse of conscience doubles adversity, as a con-
sciousness of one's own innocence is a great support in afflic-
tion — whence the poets exaggerate those sufferings most, and
paint them leading to despair, wherein the person accuses and
tortures himself.

" Seque unam clamat causamque, caputque malorum." — Virgil. r

On the other side, persons lessen and almost annihilate their
misfortunes, by reflecting upon their own innocence and merit.
Besides, when the evil comes from without, it leaves a man to
the full liberty of complaint, whereby he spends his grief and
eases his heart ; for we conceive indignation at human injuries,
and either meditate revenge ourselves, or implore and expect
it from the Divine vengeance. Or if the injury came from for-
tune itself, yet this leaves us to an expostulation with the Di-
vine Powers —

" Atque Deos, atque astra, vocat crudelia mater." — Virgil. s

But if the evil be derived from ourselves, the stings of grief
strike inwards, and stab and wound the mind the deeper.

This color deceives — I. By hope, which is the greatest anti-


dote to evils ; for it is commonly in our power to amend our
faults, but not our fortunes ; whence Demosthenes said fre-
quently to the Athenians, " What is worst for the past is best
for the future, since it happens by neglect and misconduct that
your affairs are come to this low ebb. Had you, indeed, acted
your parts to the best, and yet matters should thus have gone
backward, there would be no hopes of amendment; but as it
has happened principally through your own errors, if these are
corrected, all may be recovered." t So Epictetus, speaking of
the degrees of the mind's tranquillity, assigns the lowest place to
such as accuse others, a higher to those who accuse themselves,
but the highest to those who neither accuse themselves nor
others. 2. By pride, which so cleaves to the mind that it will
scarce suffer men to acknowledge their errors ; and to avoid
any such acknowledgment they are extremely patient under
those misfortunes which they bring upon themselves ; for as,
when a fault is committed, and before it be known who did it,
a great stir and commotion are made ; but if at length it appears
to be done by a son or a wife, the bustle is at an end. And thus
it happens when one must take a fault to one's self. And hence
we frequently see that women, when they do anything against
their friends' consent, whatever misfortune follows, they seldom
complain, but set a good face on it.

Sophism 9

The degree of privation seems greater than that of diminution,
and the degree of inception greater than that of increase

It is a position in mathematics, that there is no proportion
between something and nothing, and therefore the degrees of
nullityand quiddity seem larger than the degrees of increase
and decrease, as it is for a monoculus to lose an eye than for
a man who has two. So if a man has lost several children, it
gives him more grief to lose the last than all the rest, because
this was the hope of his family. Therefore, the Sibyl, when
she had burned two of her three books, doubled her price upon
the third, because the loss of this would only have been a degree
of privation, and not of diminution.

This color deceives — 1. In things whose use and service lie in
a sufficiency, competency, or determinate quantity: thus if a
man were to pay a large sum upon a penalty, it might be harder


upon him to want twenty shillings for this than ten pounds for
another occasion. So in running through an estate, the first
step towards it — viz., breaking in upon the stock — is a higher
degree of mischief than the last, viz., spending the last
penny. And to this color belong those common forms — It is
too late to pinch at the bottom of the purse ; As good never a
whit as never the better, etc. 2. It deceives from this principle
in nature, that the corruption of one thing is the generation of
another ; whence the ultimate degree of privation itself is often
less felt, as it gives occasion and a spur to some new course.
So when Demosthenes rebuked the people for hearkening to the
dishonorable and unequal conditions of King Philip, he called
those conditions the food of their sloth and indolence, which
they had better be without, because then their industry would
be excited to procure other remedies. So a blunt physician
whom I knew, when the delicate ladies complained to him, they
were they could not tell how, yet could not endure to take phys-
ic, he would tell them their way was to be sick, for then they
would be glad to take anything. 3. Nay, the degree of priva-
tion itself, or the extremest indigence, may be serviceable, not
only to excite our industry, but to command our patience.

The second part of this sophism stands upon the same foun-
dation, or the degrees betwixt something and nothing ; whence
the common-place of extolling the beginnings of everything,
Well-begun is half-done, etc.

" Dimidium facti, qui coepit, habet." — Horace.*

And hence the superstition of the astrologers, who judge the
disposition and fortune of a man from the instant of his na-
tivity or conception.

This color deceives — I. Because many beginnings are but
imperfect offers and essays, which vanish and come to nothing
without repetition and further advancement ; so that here the
second degree seems more worthy and powerful than the first,
as a body-horse in a team draws more than the fore-horse:
whence it is not ill said, The second word makes the quarrel ;
for the first might perhaps have proved harmless if it had not
been retorted ; therefore the first gives the occasion indeed, but
the second makes reconciliation more difficult. 2. This soph-
ism deceives by weariness, which makes perseverance of greater
dignity than inception; for chance or nature may give a be-


ginning, but only settled affection and judgment can give con-
tinuance. 3. It deceives in things whose nature and common
course carry them contrary to the first attempt, which is there-
fore continually frustrated, and gets no ground unless the force
be redoubled : hence the common forms — Not to go forwards
is to go backwards — running up hill — rowing against the
stream, etc. But if it be with the stream, or with the hill, then
the degree of inception has by much the advantage. 4. This
color not only reaches to the degree of inception from power to
action, compared with the degree from action to increase, but
also to the degree from want of power to power, compared with
the degree from power to action ; for the degree from want of
power to power seems greater than that from power to action.

Sophism 10

What relates to truth is greater than what relates to opinion;
but the measure and trial of what relates to opinion is what
a man would not do if he thought he were secret

So the Epicureans pronounce of the stoical felicity placed
in virtue, that it is the felicity of a player, who, left by his audi-
ence, would soon sink in his spirit ; whence they in ridicule call
virtue a theatrical good ; but it is otherwise in riches—

" Populus me sibilat; at mihi plaudo," 1 '

and pleasure,

" Grata sub imo

Gaudia corde premens, vultu simulante pudorem,"^

which are felt more inwardly.

The fallacy of this color is somewhat subtile, though the an-
swer to the example be easy, as virtue is not chosen for the sake
of popular fame, and as every one ought principally to rever-
ence himself ; so that a virtuous man will be virtuous in a desert
as well as a theatre, though perhaps virtue is made somewhat
more vigorous by praise, as heat by reflection. But this only
denies the supposition, and does not expose the fallacy. Al-
lowing, then, that virtue, joined with labor, would not be chosen
but for the praise and fame which usually attend it, yet it is no
consequence that virtue should not be desired principally for its
own sake, since fame may be only an impellent, and not a con-
stituent or efficient cause. Thus, if when two horses are rode


without the spur, one of them performs better than the other,
but with the spur the other far exceeds, this will be judged the
better horse : and to say that his mettle lies in the spur, is not
making a true judgment ; for since the spur is a common instru-
ment in horsemanship, and no impediment or burden to the
horse, he will not be esteemed the worse horse that wants it,
but the going well without it is rather a point of delicacy than
perfection. So glory and honor are the spurs to virtue, which,
though it might languish without them, yet since they are al-
ways at hand unsought, virtue is not less to be chosen for itself,
because it needs the spur of fame and reputation, which clearly
confutes the sophism.

Sophism 11

What is procured by our own virtue and industry is a greater
good; and zi'hat by another's, or by the gift of fortune, a less

The reasons are — 1. Future hope, because in the favors of
others, or the gifts of fortune, there is no great certainty ; but
our own virtue and abilities are always with us : so that when
they have purchased us one good, we have them as ready, and
by use better edged to procure us another. 2. Because what
we enjoy by the benefit of others carries with it an obligation to
them for it, whereas what is derived from ourselves comes
without clog or incumbrance. Nay, when the Divine Provi-
dence bestows favors upon us, they require acknowledgments
and a kind of retribution to the Supreme Being ; but in the
other kind, men rejoice (as the prophet speaks), and are glad ;
they offer to their toils, and sacrifice to their nets* 3. Be-
cause what comes to us unprocured by our own virtue, yields
not that praise and reputation we affect ; for actions of great fe-
licity may produce much wonder, but no praise : so Cicero said
to Caesar, " We have enough to admire, but want somewhat to
praise." y 4. Because the purchases of our own industry are
commonly joined with labor and struggle, which have not only
some sweetness themselves, but give an edge and relish to en-
joyment. Venison is sweet to him that kills it.

There are four opposites or counter-colors to this sophism,
and may serve as confutations to the four preceding colors re-
spectively. 1. Because felicity seems to be a work of the Di-
vine favor, and accordingly begets confidence and alacritv in
ourselves, as well as respect and reverence from others. And


this felicity extends to casual things, which human virtue can
hardly reach. So when Caesar said to the master of the ship in
a storm, " Thou carriest Caesar and his fortune " ; if he should
have said," Thou carriest Caesar and his virtue," it had been but
a small support against the danger. 2. Because those things
which proceed from virtue and industry are imitable, and lie
open to others ; whereas felicity is inimitable, and the preroga-
tive of a singular person : whence, in general, natural things are
preferred to artificial, because incapable of imitation ; for what-
ever is imitable seems common, and in every one's power. 3.
The things that proceed from felicity seem free gifts unpur-
chased by industry, but those acquired by virtue seem bought :
whence Plutarch said elegantly of the successes of Timoleon (an
extremely fortunate man), compared with those of his contem-
poraries Agesilaus and Epaminondas, " that they were like
Homer's verses, and besides their other excellencies, ran pe-
culiarly smooth and natural." 4. Because what happens unex-
pectedly is more acceptable, and enters the mind with greater
pleasure ; but this effect cannot be had in things procured by
our own industry.

Sophism 12

What consists of many divisible parts is greater, and more one
than zvhat consists of fewer; for all things when viewed in
their parts seem greater, whence also a plurality of parts
shows bulky; but a plurality of parts has the stronger effect,
if they lie in no certain order, for thus they resemble infinity
and prevent comprehension

This sophism appears gross at first sight ; for it is not plu-
rality of parts alone, without majority, that makes the total
greater; yet the imagination is often carried away, and the
sense deceived with this color. Thus to the eye the road upon
a naked plain may seem shorter, than where there are trees,
buildings, or other marks, by which to distinguish and divide
the distance. So when a moneyed man divides his chests and
bags, he seems to himself richer than he was ; and therefore a
way to amplify anything is to break it into several parts, and
examine them separately. And this makes the greater show,
if done without order ; for confusion shows things more numer-
ous than they are. But matters ranged and set in order appear
more confined, and prove that nothing is omitted ; whilst such



as are represented in confusion not only appear more in num-
ber, but leave a suspicion of many more behind.

This color deceives — 1. If the mind entertain too great an
opinion of anything; for then the breaking of it will destroy
that false notion, and show the thing really as it is, without am-
plification. Thus if a man be sick or in pain, the time seems
longer without a clock than with one ; for though the irksome-
ness of pain makes the time seem longer than it is, yet the
measuring it corrects the error, and shows it shorter than that
false opinion had conceived it. And so in a naked plain, con-
trary to what was just before observed, though the way to the
eye may seem shorter when undivided, yet the frustration of
that false expectation will afterwards cause it to appear longer
than the truth. Therefore, if a man design to encourage the
false opinion of another as to the greatness of a thing, let him
not divide and split it, but extol it in the general. This color
deceives — 2. if the matter be so far divided and dispersed as
not all to appear at one view. So flowers growing in separate
beds show more than if they grow in one bed, provided all the
beds are in the same plot, so as to be viewed at once ; other-
wise they appear more numerous when brought nearer than
when scattered wider; and hence landed estates that lie con-
tiguous are usually accounted greater than they are ; for if they
lie in different counties, they could not so well fall within no-
tice. 3. This sophism deceives through the excellence of unity
above multitude ; for all composition is an infallible sign of de-
ficiency in particulars —

" Et quae non prosunt singula, multa juvant." — Ovid. 3

For if one would serve the turn, it were best ; but defects and
imperfections require to be pieced and helped out. So Mar-
tha, employed about many things, was told that one was suf-
ficient.o And upon this foundation ^Esop invented the fable
how the fox bragged to the cat what a number of devices and
stratagems he had to get from the hounds, when the cat said she
had one, and that was to climb a tree, which in fact was better
than all the shifts of Reynard ; whence the proverb, " Multa
novit vulpes, sed felis unum magnum." b And the moral of
the fable is this, that it is better to rely upon an able and trusty
friend in difficulty than upon all the fetches and contrivances of
one's own wit.


It were easy to collect a large number of this kind of soph-
isms — which we collected in our youth, but without their illus-
trations and solutions. These at last we have found time to
digest, and think the performance of considerable service —
whereto if their fallacies and detections were annexed, it might
be a work of considerable service, as launching into primary
philosophy and politics as well as rhetoric. And so much for
the popular marks or colors of apparent good and evil, both
simple and comparative.

A second collection wanting to the apparatus of rhetoric is
that intimated by Cicero, when he directs a set of common-
places, suited to both sides of the question, to be had in readi-
ness ; such are, " Pro verbis legis," et " Pro sententia legis."
But we extend this precept further, so as to include not only
judicial, but also deliberate and demonstrative forms. Our
meaning is, that all the places of common use, whether for proof,
confutation, persuasion, dissuasion, praise, or dispraise, should
be ready studied, and either exaggerated or degraded with the
utmost effort of genius, or, as it were, perverse resolution be-
yond all measure of truth. And the best way of forming this
collection, both for conciseness and use, we judge to be that
of contracting and winding up these places into certain acute

Online LibraryFrancis BaconAdvancement of learning and novum organum → online text (page 20 of 51)