Francis Bacon.

The physical and metaphysical works of Lord Bacon including the Advancement of learning and Novum Organum online

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]ierceive what a servant he must lose if he quit him. 4.
Either let him prudently transfer the blame upon others, or
insinuate that the ofience was committed with no ill design,
or show that their malice, who accused him to the prince,
aggravated the thing above measure. 5. Lastly, let him iq
every respect be watchful and inteot upon the cure.

mxP. It.] Wisi! COlTblCt ME3tt»tlFlED. 30d

XVII. — Thefirtt in his own cause ujiist; iheri cornea the other partp;
and inquires into him.*

The first information in any caUse, if it dwell a little with
the judge, takes root, tinges, and possesses him so, as hardly
to be removed again, unless some manifest falsity be found in
the matter itself, or some artifice be discovered in delivering
it. For a naked and simple defence, though just and pre-
valent, can scarce balance the prejudice of a prior informa-
tion, or of itself reduce to an equilibrium the scale of justice
that has once inclined. It is, therefore, safest for the judge
to hear nothing as to the merits of a cause, before both
parties are convened ; and best for the defendant, if he per-
ceive the judge prepossessed, to endeavour, as far as ever the
case will allow, principally to detect some artifice, or trick,
made use ot by the plaintiff to abuse the judge.

XVIII. — He who brings up his servant delicately, shaUfind him stitbbom
in the end.*

Princes and masters are, by the advice of Solomon, to
observe moderation in conferring grace and favour upon their
servants. This moderation consists in three things. 1. In
promoting them gradually, not by sudden starts. 2. In
accustoming them sometimes to denial. And 3. as is well
observed by Machiavel, in letting them always have some-
thing further to hope for. And unless these particulars be
obsei*ved, princes, in the end, will doubtless find from their
servants disrespect and obstinacy, instead of gratitude and
duty. For from sudden promotion arises insolence ; from a
perpetual obtaining one's desires, impatience of denial ; and
if there be nothing further to wish, there's an end of alacrity
and industry.

^XIX. — A man diligent in his business shall stand before kings, and not
h be ranked among the vidgar.^

^ Of all the virtues which kings chiefly regard and require
in the choice of servants, that of expedition and resolution
in the despatch of business is the most acceptable. Men of

* Prov. xvii. 17; but the sense is different. • Prov. xxix. 21.

'' Prov. xxii. 29, Franklin cited this aphorism as exemplified in his
person. He was caressed by Louis XVI., feared by George III., and
lived on terms of easy friendship with the heads of other powers who
had combined against England His pre-eminence he attributed
tntirely to his industry. Ed.

310 ABVAifO£M£NT O^ LEAnNlXG. fUOOK Vllt

depth are held suspected hj princes, as inspecting them too
close, and being able by their strength of capacity, as by a
machine, to turn and wind them against their will and with-
out their knowledge. Popular men are hated, as standing in
the light of kings, and drawing the eyes of the multitude
upon themselves. Men of courage are generally esteemed
turbulent and too enterprising. Honest and just men are
accounted morose, and not compliable enough to the will of
their masters. Lastly, there is no virtue but has its shade,
wherewith the minds of kings are offended; but despatch
alone in executing their commands has nothing displeasing
to them. Besides, the motions of the minds of kings are
swift and impatient of delay ; for they think themselves able
to effect anything, and imagine that nothing more is wanting
but to have it done instantly. Whence despatch is to them
the most grateful of all things.

XX. — J saw all the living which walk under the sun, with the succeeding
young prince that shall rise up in his stead."

This aphorism points out the vanity of those who flock
about the next successors of princes. The root of this is the
folly naturally implanted in the minds of men ; viz. their
being too fond of their own hopes : for scarce any one but
is more deHghted with hope than with enjoyment. Again,
novelty is pleasing and greedily coveted by human nature ;
and these two things, hope and novelty, meet in the successor
of a prince. The aphorism hints the same that was formerly
said by Pompey to Sylla, and again by Tiberius of Macro,
that the sun has more adorers rising than setting.'^ Yet
rulers in possession are not much affected with this, or esteem
it any great matter, as neither Sylla nor Tiberius did ; but
rather laugh at the levity of men, and encounter not with
dreams ; for hope, as was well said, is but a waking dream.«

XXI. — There was a little city manned hut hy a few, arid a mighty Mng
drew his army to it, erecting bulwarks against it, and intrenched it
round: now there was found within the walls a poor wise man, and he
by his wisdom, delivered the city; but none remembered tJie same poor
man J

This parable describes the corrupt and malevolent nature
of men, who, in extremities and difficulties, generally fly to

« Eccles. iv. 15. Solomon, in his old age, seeing all his courtiers desert
him to pay court to his son Rehoboam, uttered this sentiment. £d.
^ Tacit. .Aniials; vi. • Eccles. xiii. 18. ' Eccles. ix. li.


the prudent and the courageous, though they before despised
them ; and as soon as the storm ii? over, they show ingratitude
to their preservers. Machiavel had reason to put the ques-
tion, "Wliich is the more ungrateful towards the well-
deserving, the prince or the people V though he accuses both
of ingi-atitude.s The thing does not proceed wholly from the
ingratitude either of princes or people, but it is generally
attended with the envy of the nobility, who secretly repine
at the event, though happy and prosperous, because it was
not procured by themselves. "Whence they lessen the merit
of the author and bear him down.

XXII, — Tlie way of the slothful is a hedge of thorns.^
This aphorism elegantly shows that sloth is laborious in
the end : for diligent and cautious preparation guards the
foot from stumbling, and smooths the way before it is trod ;
but he who is sluggish, and defers all things to the last
moment, must of necessity be at every step treading as upon
brambles and thorns, which frequently detain and hinder
him ; and the same may be observed in the government of a
family, where, if due care and forethought be used, all things
go on calmly, and, as it were, spontaneously, ^^dthout noise
and bustle ; but if this caution be neglected, when any
great occasion arises, numerous matters crowd in to be don©
at once, the servants are in confusion, and the house rings.

XXIII. — He who respects persons in judgment does ill, and will forsake
the truth for' a piece of bread}

This aphorism wisely observes, that facility of temper is
more pernicious in a judge than bribery ; for bribes are not
offered by all, but there is no cause wherein something may
not be found to sway the mind of the judge, if he be a
respecter of persons. Thus, one shall be respected for his
country, another for his riches, another for being recom-
mended by a friend, (fcc. So that iniquity must abound
where respect of persons prevails, and judgment be corrupted

ir a very trifling thing, as it were for a morsel of bread.

XXI V. — A poor man, that hy extortion oppresses titepoor, is like a

land-flood that causes famine.^
This parable was anciently painted by the fable of the
jch, fall and empty; for the oppression of a poor an J

K DiscoFM) scpra Liv. lib. i« »» Prov. xr. 10.

* ProY. xxviii. 31. ,^ w ^ Prov. xxviii. 3.


jiungrj wretch ia much more grievous than the oppression of
one who is rich and full ; as he searches into all the corners
and arts of exactions and ways ol raising contributions. The
thing has been also usually resembled to a sponge, which
sucks strongly when dry, but less when moist. And it con-
tains an useial admonition to princes, that they commit not
the government of provinces or places of power to indigent
men, or such as are in debt ; and again to the people, that
they permit not their kings to struggle with want.

XXV. — A just man jailing before the wicked, is a troubled fountain
and a corrupted spring}

This is a caution to states, that they should have a capital
regard to the passing an unjust or infamous sentence in any
great and weighty cause, where not only the guilty is
acquitted, but the innocent condemned. To countenance
private injuries, indeed, disturbs and pollutes the clear
streams of justice, as it were, in the brook ; but unjust and
great public sentences, which are afterwards drawn into
precedents, infect and defile the very fountain of justice.
For when once the court goes on the side of injustice, the
law becomes a public robber, and one man really a wolt to

XXVI. — Contract no friendship with an angry man, nor walk with a
jiiriotcs one.'"

The more religiously the laws of friendship are to be
observed amongst good men, the more caution should be
used in making a prudent choice of friends. The nature and
humour ol friends, so far as concerns ourselves alone, should
be absolutely tolerated ; but when they lay us under a
necessity, as to the character we should put on towards
others, this becomes an exceeding hard and unreasonable
condition of friendship. It is therefore of great moment to
the peace and security of life, according to the direction of
Solomon, to have no friendship with passionate men, and
such as easily stir up or enter into debates and quarrels.
For such friends will be perpetually entangling us in strifes
and contentions, so that we must either break off with them
or have no regard to our own safety.

• Prov. XXV. 29 ■ Prov. xxii. 24.

c:iA?. It.] v.'isr. condult crEMPLiFiEO. 313

XXVIT. — Rt tclio conceals a fault seeks friend-Mp, hrU he itfto repeats a
matter separates fiiends.^

There are two ways of composing differences and recon-
ciling the minds ot men ; the one beginning -svith oblivion
and forgiveness, the other with a recollection ot the injuries,
interweaving it with apologies and excuses. I remember it
is the opinion of a very wise politician, " That he who treats
of peace without repeating the conditions of the difference,
rather deceives the mind with the sweetness of reconciliation
tlian equitably makes up the matter." But Solomon, a still
wiser man, is of a contrary opinion, and approves of forget-
ting, but forbids a repetition of the difference, as being
attended with these inconveniences: 1. That it rakes into the
old sore ; 2. that it may cause a new difference ; 3. and
lastly, that it brings the matter to end in excuses ; whereas
both sides had rather seem to forgive the injury than allow
of an excuse.

XXVIII. — In every good worTc is plenty; hut where words alound,
t/ie}'e is commonly a want°

Solomon here distinguishes the fruit of the labour of the
tongue, and that ot the labour oi the hand, as if from the
one came want, and from the other abundance. For it almost
constantly happens that they who speak much, boast much,
and promise largely, are but barren, and receive no fruit
from the things they talk of; being seldom industrious or
diligent in works, but feed and satisfy themselves with dis-
course alone as with wind ; whilst, as the poet intimates, "he
who is conscious to himself that he can really effect," feels
the satisfaction inwardly, and keeps silent :

" Qui sllet est firmus:"^
whereas, he who knows he grasps nothing but empty air, is
full of talk and strange stories.

XXIX. — Open reproof is better than secret affection.*

This aphorism reprehends the indulgence of those who use

not the privilege of friendship freely and boldly to admonish

tneir friends as well of their errors as their dangers. "What

ihall I doT' says an easy, good-natured friend, "or what

■ Prov. XV ii. 9. • Prov. xir. 28.

f Ovid, Remedia Amoris, 697. *• Pror. xxvii. S

314 ADVAlf CEMENT Of* IBAMtiKa. [SOOJt vitr

course shall I take ? I love him as well as man can do, and
would willingly suffer any misfortune in his stead : but I
know his nature ; if I deal freely with him, I shall offend
him ; at least chagrin him, and yet do him no service. Nay,
I shall sooner alienate his friendship from me, than win him
over from those things he has fixed his mind upon." Such
an effeminate and useless friend as this Solomon reprehends,
and pronounces that greater advantage may be received from
an open enemy ; as a man may chance to hear those things
from an enemy by way of reproach, which a friend, through
too much indulgence, will not speak out.

XXX. — A prudent man looks well to his steps, but a fool twns a»ldc
to deceit,^

There are two kinds of prudence ; the one true and sound,
the other degenerate and false : the latter Solomon calls by
the name of folly. The candidate for the former has an eye
to his footings, looking out for dangers, contriving remedies,
and by the assistance of good men defending himself against
the bad : he is wary in entering iipon business, and not un-
provided of a retreat ; watching for opportunities, powerful
against opposition, &c. But the follower of the other is
wholly patched up of fallacy and cunning, placing all his hope
in the circumventing of others, and forming them to his
fancy. And this the aphorism justly rejects as a vicious and
even a weak kind of prudence. For, 1. it is by no means a
thing in our own power, nor depending upon any constant
rule j but is daily inventing of new stratagems as the old
ones fail and grow useless. 2. He who has once the character
of a crafty, tricking man, is entirely deprived of a principal
instrument of business, — trust ; whence he will find nothing
succeed to his wish. 3. Lastly, however specious and pleas-
ing these arts may seem, yet they are often frustrated ; as
well observed by Tacitus, when he said, that crafty and bold
counsels, though pleasant in the expectation, are hard to
execute, and unhappy in the event.

XXXI. — Be not over-righteous, nor make thyself over-mise : for why
shouldst thou suddenly he taken offl*

There are times, says Tacitus, wherein great viiiiues mf^et
with certain ruin.* And this happens to men eminent for

' Prov. XV. 21. • Eccles. viL ! 7. • Hist. i. 2.

CHAt. M.J WlSfi CONDUOT tlXEMPLlFlfia 315

virtue and justice, sometimes suddenly, and sometimcf after
it was long foreseen. But if prudence be also joined, so as
to make such men cautious and watchful of their own safety,
then they gain thus much, that their i-uin shall come suddenly,
and entirely from secret and dark counsels — whence they may
escape envy, and meet destruction unexpected. But for that
over-righteousness expressed in the aphorism, it is not under-
stood of virtue itself, in which there is no excess, but of a
vain and invidious affectation and show thereof, like what
Tacitus intimates of Lepidus — making it a kind of miracle
that he never gave any servile opinion, and yet stood safe in
severe times.^

XXXII. — Gfive occasion to a wise man, a/nd his wisdom will he

This aphorism distinguishes between that wisdom which
has grown up and ripened into a true habit, and that which
only floats in the brain, or is tossed upon the tongue without
having taken root. The former, when occasion offers, is pre-
sently roused, got ready, and distended, so as to appear
greater than itself; whereas the latter, which was pert
before, stands amazed and confounded when occasion calls for
it : so that the person who thought himself endowed with
this wisdom, begins to question whether his preconceptions
about it were not mere dreams and empty speculations.

XXXIII. — Topmise one's friend aloud, rising early, has the same effect
as cursing him J

Moderate and sensible praises, dropped occasionally, are of
great service to the reputation and fortunes of men ; whilst
immoderate, noisy, and fulsome praises do no good, but
rather hurt, as the aphorism expresses it. For, 1. they plainly
betray themselves to proceed from an excess of good will, or
to be purposely designed rather to gain favour with the per-
son by false encomiums, than to paint him justly. 2. Sparing
and modest praises generally invite the company somewhat
to improve them, but profuse and immoderate ones to detract
and take off from them. 3. The principal thing is, that
immoderate praises procure envy to the person praised, as all
extravagant commendations seem to reproach others that
may be no less deserving.

■ Anzials, iv, 20. * Prov. ix. 9, ^ Prov. xsxv. 14,

316 ADVANCEMENT Of LSarNTNG. [b66\1 Vllt

XXXI V. — As the face shines in wafer, so are men's hearts manifoil to
the wise.''

This aphorism distinguishes between the minds of prudent
men and those of others, by comparing the former to water,
or a mirror, which receives the forms and images of things ;
wlnlst the latter are like earth, or unpolished stone, which
reflects nothing. And the mind of a prudent man is the
more aptly compared to a glass, because therein one's own
image may, at the same time, be viewed along with those of
others, which could not be done by the eye without assistance :
but if the mind of a prudent man be so capacious as to
observe and distinguish an infinite diversity of natures and
manners in men, it remains that we endeavour to render
it as various in the application as it is in the rej)resentation.
" Qui sapit, innumeris moribus aptus erit."*

If we have dwelt too long upon those parables, and used
them for higher purposes than mere illustrations, the dignity
of both author and subject must be our excuse. For thus,
it was not only usual among the Jews, but very common
also among the wise men of other ancient nati<ms, when they
had, by observation, hit upon anything useful in common
life, to reduce and contract it into some short sentence, para-
ble, or fable. Fables anciently suppKed the defect of exam-
ples ; but now that times abound with variety of histories,
it is better and more enlivening to draw from real life. But
the method of writing best suited to so various and intricate
a subject as the different occasions of civil business, is that
which Machiavel chose for treating politics j viz., by observa-
tion or discourse upon histories and examples.^ For the
knowledge which is newly drawn, and, as it were, under our
own eye, from particulars, best finds the way to particulars
again. And doubtless it is much more conducive to practice
that the discourse follow the example, than that the example
follow the discourse : and this regards not only the order,
but the thing itself; for when an example is proposed as the
basis of a discourse, it is usually proposed with its whole
apparatus of circumstances, which may sometimes correct and
supply it; whence it becomes as a model for imitation and
practice; whilst examples, produced for the sake of the

■ Prov. xxvii. 19. • Are Amandi, i. 780.

» Discoreo^ sopra Liv.


treatise, are but succinctly and nakedly quoted, and, as
slaves, wholly attend the call of the discourse.

It is worth while to observe this difference, that as the
histories of times afford the best matter for discourses upon
politics, such as those ot Machiavel,*^ so the histories of lives
are most advantageously used for instructions of business,
because they contain all the possible variety of occasions and
affiiirs, as well gi-eat as small. Yet a more commodious foun-
dation may be had for the precepts of business than either
of these histories, and that is, the discoursing upon prudent
and serious epistles, such as those of Cicero to Atticus ; for
epistles represent business nearer and more to the life
than either annals or lives. And thus we have treated of
the matter and form of the first part of the doctrine of
business, which regards variety of occasions, and place it
among the desiderata.

There is another part of the doctrine of business differing
as much from the former as the being wise in general,
and the being wise for one's self; — the one seems to move as
from the centre to the circumference, and the other as from
the circumference to the centre. For there is a certain pru-
dence of giving counsel to others, and another of looking to
one's own affairs. Both these, indeed, are sometimes found
united, but oftenest separate ; as many are prudent in the
management of their own private concerns, and weak in
public administration, or the giving advice, like the ant,
which is a wise creature for itself, but pernicious in a garden.
This virtue of self-wisdom was not unknown even to the
Romans, those great lovei*s of their countiy; whence, says
the comedian, " the wise man forms his own fortune," —

" Nam pol sapiens fingit fortunam sibi j"**
and they had it proverbial amongst them, — " Every man's
fortune lies in his own hand," — " Faber quisque lortunae pro-
prise." So Livy gives this character of the elder Cato : " Such
was his force of mind and genius, that wherever he had
been born he seemed formed for making his own fortune."^

But if any one publicly professed or made open show o(

•= Especially his 11 Principe, with the notes of Conringius, which wad
foxmd in the carriage of Napoleon after the battle of Mont St. Jeaa,
with the annotations of the emperor. Ed.

* FlaHtUB, Trinum. Act ii. pc. % v. 84, • Livy, mrix . 40.


this kind of prudence, it was always accounted not only
impolitic, but ominous and unfortunate, as was observed
of Timotheus the Athenian, who, after having performed
many great exploits for the honour and advantage of
his country, and giving an account of his conduct to tho
people, as the manner then was, he concluded the several
particulars thus: "And here fortune had no share ;"^ after
which time nothing ever succeeded in his hands. This was,
indeed, too arrogant and haughty, like that of Pharaoh in
Ezekiel, " Thou sayest. The river is mine, and I made my-
self ;"s or that of Habakkuk, "They rejoice, and sacrifice
to their net;"^ or, again, that of Mezentius, who called his
hand and javelin his god;

** Dextra mihi deus, et telum, quod missile libro.
Nunc adsint ;"*

or, lastly, that of Julius Csesar, the only time that we find
him betraying his inward sentiments ; for when the Aruspex
related to him that the entrails were not prosperous, he
muttered softly, " They shall be better when I please," which
was said not long before his unfortunate deaths And, indeed,
this excessive confidence, as it is a profane thing, so it is
always unhappy; whence great and truly wise men think
proper to attribute all their successes to their felicity, and
not to their virtue and industry. So Sylla styled himself
happy, not great; and Csesar, at another time, more ad-
visedly said to the pilot, " Thou earnest Csesar and his for-

But these expressions, — "Every one's fortune is in his
own hand," " A Avise man shall control the stars," " Every
way is passable to virtue," &c., — if understood, and used
rather as spurs to industry than as stirrups to insolence, and
rather to beget in men a constancy and firmness of resolu-
tion than arrogance and ostentation, they are deservedly
esteemed sound and wholesome ; and lience, doubtless, it is
that they find reception in the breasts of great men, and make

' Plut. Sylla. s Ezek. xxix. 3. »» Habak. i. 15.

' u^neid, x. 773. •' Suetonhis.

* Plutarch. Compare with this a curious letter from Cato to Cicero
(ap. Cic. ad Fam. xv. 5), wherein he says, " Supplicationem decretam, si
tu, qu& in re nihil fortuito, sed sumraa tua ratione et continentia reipub-
licae, pro visum est diis immortal ibus gratulari nos quam tibi referre
Rcceptum mavis gati ieo,"


it sometimes difficult for them to dissemble their thoughts;
80 we find Augustus Caesar, who was rather difierent from
than inferior to his uncle, though doubtless a more modei'ate
man, required his friends, as they stood about his death-
bed, to give him their applause at his exit,*" as if conscious to
liimself that he had acted his part well upon the stage of
life. And this part of doctrine also is to be reckoned as
deficient, not but that it has been much used and beaten in
practice, though not taken notice of in books. Wherefore,
according to our custom, we shall here set do^vn some heads
upon the subject, under the title of the Self-politician, or the

Online LibraryFrancis BaconThe physical and metaphysical works of Lord Bacon including the Advancement of learning and Novum Organum → online text (page 31 of 63)