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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 clafp. There is furely no greater Wisdom, than well to time the Beginnings, and Onfets of Things. Dangers are no more light, if they once feem light and more Dangers have deceived Men, than forced them. Nay, it were better, to meet fome 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 fide, to be deceived, with too long Shadows (as fome have been, when the Moon was low, and fhone on their Enemies' Back), and fo to shoot off before the time; or to teach Dangers to come on, by over early buckling towards them, is another Extreme. The Ripenefs, or Unripenefs, of the Occasion (as we faid) must ever be well weighed; and generally, it is good, to commit the Beginnings of all 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 Council, 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.
XXII. Of Cunning.
E take Cunning for a finifter or crooked Wisdom. And certainly, there is great difference, between a cunning Man, and a wife Man; not only in Point of Honesty, but in point of Ability. There be that can pack the Cards, and yet cannot play well; fo there are fome, that are good in Canvaffes, and Factions, that are otherwise weak Men. Again, it is one thing to understand Perfons, and another thing to understand Matters; for many are perfect in Men's Humours, that are not greatly capable of the real Part of Bufinefs; which is the Conftitution of one, that hath ftudied 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 loft their Aim; fo as the old Rule, to know a Fool from a Wife Man; Mitte ambos nudos ad ignotos, et videbis; doth scarce hold for them. And because these Cunning Men, are like Haberdafhers of fmall 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 Jefuits give it in precept: for there be many Wife Men, that have fecret Hearts, and tranfparent Countenances. Yet this would be done, with a demure abafing of your Eye fometimes, as the Jefuits alfo do use.
Another is, that when you have any Thing to obtain of present Dispatch, you entertain, and amuse the Party, with whom you deal, with some other Discourse; that he be not too much awake, to make Objections. I knew a Counsellor and Secretary, that never came to Queen Elizabeth of England, with Bills to fign, but he would always first put her into fome Discourse of Eftate, that she might the less mind the Bills.
The like Surprise may be made, by moving Things, when the Party is in haste, and cannot ftay, to confider advisedly, of that is moved.
If a Man would cross a Business, that he doubts fome other would handsomely and effectually move, let him pretend to wish it well, and move it himfelf, in fuch fort, as may foil it.
The breaking off, in the midst of that, one was about to fay, 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 any Thing feemeth 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 Occafion for the party to ask what the Matter is of the Change? As Nehemiah did; And I had not before that time been fad before the King.
In Things, that are tender and unpleafing, it is good to break the ice, by fome whose Words are of less weight, and to reserve the more weighty Voice, to come in, as by chance, fo that he may
be asked the Question upon the other's Speech. As Narciffus did, in relating to Claudius, the Marriage of Meffalina 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 fay; The World fays, 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 Poft-fcript, as if it had been a By-Matter.
I knew another, that when he came to have Speech, he would pafs 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 surprized, at fuch times, as it is like, the party that they work upon will fuddenly come upon them and to be found with a Letter in their hand, or doing fomewhat which they are not accustomed; to the end, they may be appofed of those things, which of themfelves they are defirous to utter.
It is a Point of Cunning, to let fall thofe 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 Bufinefs; and the one of them faid, That to be a Secretary, in the Declination of a Monarchy, was a ticklish Thing, and that he did not affect it: the other, ftraight caught up thofe Words, and dif
courfed with divers of his Friends, that he had no reason to desire to be Secretary, in the Declination of a Monarchy. The firft Man took hold of it, and found Means, it was told the Queen; who hearing of a Declination of a Monarchy, took it fo ill, as fhe would never after hear of the other's Suit.
There is a Cunning, which we in England call, the Turning of the Cat in the Pan; which is, when that which a Man fays to another, he lays it, as if another had faid it to him. And to fay Truth, it is not easy, when fuch a Matter passed between two, to make it appear, from which of them, it first moved and began.
It is a way, that some men have, to glance and dart at others, by justifying themselves, by Negatives; as to fay, This I do not: as Tigillinus did towards Burrhus; Se non diverfas fpes, fed Incolumitatem Imperatoris fimplicitèr fpectare.
Some have in readiness, so many Tales and Stories, as there is Nothing, they would infinuate, but they can wrap it into a Tale; which ferveth 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 Propofitions; for it makes the other Party stick the lefs.
It is strange, how long fome Men will lie in wait, to speak somewhat, they defire 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 Ufe.