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A COLLECTION OF SENTENCES
OUT OF SOME OF THE WRITINGS OF THE LORD BACON.*
1. It is a strange desire which men have, to 17. In great place ask counsel of both times : of seek power, and lose liberty.
the ancient time, what is best; and of the latter 2. Children increase the cares of life; but they time, what is fittest. mitigate the remembrance of death.
18. As in nature things move more violently 3. Round dealing is the honour of man's nature; to their place, and calmly in their place: so virand a mixture of falsehood is like allay in gold and tue in ambition is violent; in authority, settled and silver, which may make the metal work the better, calm. but it embaseth it.
19. Boldness in civil business is like pronun4. Death openeth the gate to good fame, and ex- ciation in the orator of Demosthenes: the first, tinguisheth envy.
second, and third thing. 5. Schism in the spiritual body of the church 20. Boldness is blind : wherefore it is ill in is a greater scandal than a corruption in manners : counsel, but good in execution. For in counsel as, in the natural body, a wound or solution of it is good to see dangers : in execution, not to see continuity is worse than a corrupt humour. them, except they be very great.
6. Revenge is a kind of wild justice, which the 21. Without good nature, man iş but a better more a man's nature runs to, the more ought law kind of vermin. to weed it out.
22. God never wrought miracle to convince 7. He that studieth revenge, keepeth his own atheism, because his ordinary works convince it.
23. The great atheists indeed are hypocrites, 8. Revengeful persons live and die like witches: who are always handling holy things, but without their life is mischievous, and their end is unfortu- feeling ; so as they must needs be cauterized in nate.
the end. 9. It was a high speech of Seneca, after the 24. The master of superstition is the people. manner of the Stoics, that the good things which And in all superstition, wise men follow fools. belong to prosperity are to be wished; but the good 25. In removing superstitions, care would be things which belong to adversity are to be admired. had, that, as it fareth in ill purgings, the good be
10. He that cannot see well, let him go softly. not taken away with the bad : which commonly is
11. If a man be thought secret, it inviteth dis- done when the people is the physician. covery: as the more close air sucketh in the more 26. He that goeth into a country before he hath open.
some entrance into the language, goeth to school, 12. Keep your authority wholly from your chil- and not to travel. dren, not so your purse.
27. It is a miserable state of mind, and yet it is 13. Men of noble birth are noted to be envious commonly the case of kings, to have few things to towards new men when they rise : for the dis- desire, and many things to fear. tance is altered ; and it is like a deceit of the eye, 28. Depression of the nobility may make a king that when others come on, they think themselves more absolute but less safe.
29. All precepts concerning kings are, in effect, 14. That envy is most malignant which is like comprehended in these remembrances : remember Cain's, who envied his brother, because his sacri- thou art a man; remember thou art God's vicefice was better accepted, when there was nobody gerent: the one bridleth their power, and the other but God to look on.
their will. 15. The lovers of great place are impatient of 30. Things will have their first or second agiprivateness, even in age, which requffes the sha- tation : if they be not tossed upon the arguments dow : like old townsmen, that will be still sitting of counsel, they will be tossed upon the waves at their street door, though there they offer age to of fortune. scorn.
31. The true composition of a counsellor is, 16. In evil, the best condition is, not to will: rather to be skilled in his master's business than the next not to can.
his nature ; for then he is like to advise him, and * Baconiana, page 65.
not to feed his humour. Vol. I.-17
32. Private opinion is more free, but opinion 52. Riches are the baggage of virtue ; they before others is more reverend.
cannot be spared, nor left behind, but they hin33. Fortune is like a market, where many times der the march. if you stay a little the price will fall.
53. Great riches have sold more men than 34. Fortune sometimes turneth the handle of the ever they have bought out. bottle, which is easy to be taken hold of; and 54. Riches have wings, and sometimes they fly after the belly, which is hard to grasp.
away of themselves, and sometimes they must be 35. Generally it is good to commit the begin- set flying to bring in more. ning of all great actions to Argus with an hun- 55. He that defers his charity till he is dead, is, dred eyes; and the ends of them to Briareus with if a man weighs it rightly, rather liberal of another an hundred hands; first to watch, and then to man's than of his own. speed.
56. Ambition is like choler; if it can move, it 36. There is great difference betwixt a cunning makes men active; if it be stopped, it becomes man and a wise man. There be that can pack adust, and makes men melancholy. the cards, who yet cannot play well; they are 57. To take a soldier without ambition, is to good in canvasses and factions, and yet otherwise pull off his spurs.
58. Some ambitious men seem as skreens to 37. Extreme self-lovers will set a man's house princes in matters of danger and envy. For no on fire, though it were but to roast their eggs. man will take such parts, except he be like the
38. New things, like strangers, are more ad- seeled dove, that mounts and mounts, because he mired and less favoured.
cannot see about him. 39. It were good that men, in their innovations, 59. Princes and states should choose such mi. would follow the example of time itself, which ; nisters as are more sensible of duty than rising; indeed innovateth greatly, but quietly, and by de- and should discern a busy nature from a willing grees scarce to be perceived.
mind. 40. They that reverence too much old time, are 60. A man's nature runs either to herbs or weeds; but a scorn to the new.
therefore let him seasonably water the one, and 41. The Spaniards and Spartans have been noted destroy the other. to be of small despatch. “ Mi venga la muerte 61. If a man look sharply and attentively, he de Spagna;" Let my death come from Spain, for shall see fortune ; for though she be blind, she is then it will be sure to be long a coming.
not invisible. 42. You had better take for business a man 62. Usury bringeth the treasure of a realm or somewhat absurd, than over-formal.
state into a few hands : for the usurer being at 43. Those who want friends to whom to open certainties, and others at uncertainties; at the end their griefs, are cannibals of their own hearts. of the game most of the money will be in the box.
44. Number itself importeth not much in ar- 63. Beauty is best in a body that hath rather mies, where the people are of weak courage ; for, dignity of presence, than beauty of aspect. The as Virgil says, it never troubles a wolf how many beautiful prove accomplished, but not of great the sheep be.
spirit; and study, for the most part, rather beha45. Let states that aim at greatness, take heed viour than virtue. how their nobility and gentry multiply too fast. 64. The best part of beauty is that which a In coppice woods, if you leave your stadles too picture cannot express. thick, you shall never have clean underwood, but 65. He who builds a fair house upon an ill seat, shrubs and bushes.
commits himself to prison. 46. A civil war is like the heat of a fever; but 66. If you will work on any man, you must a foreign war is like the heat of exercise, and either know his nature and fashion, and so lead serveth to keep the body in health.
him; or his ends, and so persuade him; or his 47. Suspicions among thoughts, are like bats weaknesses and disadvantages, and so awe him; among birds, they ever fly by twilight.
or those that have interest in him, and so govern 48. Base natures, if they find then selves once him. suspected, will never be true.
67. Costly followers (among whom we may 49. Men ought to find the difference between reckon those who are importunate in suits) are saltness and bitterness. Certainly he that hath a not to be liked ; lest, while a man maketh his satirical vein, as he maketh others afraid of his train longer, he maketh his wings shorter. wit, so he had need be afraid of others' memory. 68. Fame is like a river that beareth up things
50. Discretion in speech is more than eloquence. light and swollen, and drowns things weighty
51. Men seem neither well to understand their and solid. riches nor their strength; of the former they be- 69. Seneca saith well, that anger is like rain, lieve greater things than they should, and of the which breaks itself upon that which it falls. 'atter much less. And from hence certain fatal 70. Excusations, cessions, modesty itself well pillars have bounded the progress of learning. governed, are but arts of ostent ion.
71. High treason is not written in ice, that for grain is seen, which in a fouler stone is never when the body relenteth, the impression should perceived. go away.
73. Hollow church papists are like the roots 72. The best governments are always subject of nettles, which themselves sting not ; but yet to be like the fairest crystals, wherein every icicle they bear all the stinging leaves.
SHORT NOTES FOR CIVIL CONVERSATION.
BY SIR FRANCIS BACON.*
To deceive men's expectations generally (which / wanting true judgment; for in all things no man cautel) argueth a staid mind, and unexpected con- can be exquisite. stancy: viz. in matters of fear, anger, sudden joy To have commonplaces to discourse, and to or grief, and all things which may affect or alter want variety, is both tedious to the hearers, and the mind in public or sudden accidents, or suchlike. shows a shallowness of conceit: therefore it is
It is necessary to use a steadfast countenance, good to vary, and suit speeches with the present not wavering with action, as in moving the head or occasions ; and to have a moderation in all our hand too much, which showeth a fantastical, speeches, especially in jesting of religion, state, light, and fickle operation of the spirit, and con- great persons, weighty and important business, sequently like mind as gesture : only it is suf- poverty, or any thing deserving pity. ficient, with leisure, to use a modest action in A long continued speech, without a good either.
speech of interlocution, showeth slowness: and In all kinds of speech, either pleasant, grave, a good reply, without a good set speech, showeth severe, or ordinary, it is convenient to speak shallowness and weakness. leisurely, and rather drawingly, than hastily; To use many circumstances, ere you come to because hasty speech confounds the memory, the matter, is wearisome; and to use none at all, and oftentimes, besides unseemliness, drives a is but blunt. man either to a non-plus or unseemly stammering, Bashfulness is a great hinderance to a man, harping upon that which should follow; whereas both of uttering his conceit, and understanding a slow speech confirmeth the memory, addeth a what is propounded unto him; wherefore it is conceit of wisdom to the hearers, besides a seem- good to press himself forwards with discretion, liness of speech and countenance. To desire in both in speech, and company of the better sort. discourse to hold all arguments, is ridiculous,
“Usus promptos facit."
AN ESSAY ON DEATH.
BY THE LORD CHANCELLOR BACON.
1. I have often thought upon death, and I find it | 2. Physicians in the name of death include the least of all evils. All that which is past is all sorrow, anguish, disease, calamity, or whatas a dream; and he that hopes or depends upon soever can fall in the life of man, either grievous time coming, dreams waking. So much of our or unwelcome: but these things are familiar life as we have discovered is already dead ; and unto us, and we suffer them every hour; thereall those hours which we share, even from the fore we die daily, and I am older since I afbreasts of our mother, until we return to our firmed it. grandmother the earth, are part of our dying 3. I know many wise men, that fear to die; days; whereof even this is one, and those that for the change is bitter, and flesh would resucceed are of the same nature, for we die daily; fuse to prove it: besides the expectation orings and as others have given place to us, so we terror, and that exceeds the evil. But I do not mrist in the end give way to others.
believe, that any man fears to be dead, but oniy
* From the Remains.
the stroke of death : and such are my hopes, that most part out of this world with their heels forif Heaven be pleased, and nature renew but my ward ; in token that he is contrary to life; which lease for twenty-one years more, without asking being obtained, sends men headlong into this longer days, I shall be strong enough to ac- wretched theatre, where being arrived, their first knowledge without mourning that I was begotten language is that of mourning. Nor in my own mortal. Virtue walks not in the highway, though thoughts, can I compare men more fitly to any she go per alta; this is strength and the blood to thing, than to the Indian fig-tree, which being virtue, to contemn things that be desired, and to ripened to his full height, is said to decline his neglect that which is feared.
branches down to the earth; whereof she con4. Why should man be in love with his fetters, ceives again, and they become roots in their own though of gold ? Art thou drowned in security ? stock. Then I say thou art perfectly dead. For though So man having derived his being from the thou movest, yet thy soul is buried within thee, earth, first lives the life of a tree, drawing his and thy good angel either forsakes his guard or nourishment as a plant, and made ripe for death sleeps. There is nothing under heaven, saving he tends downwards, and is sowed again in his a true friend, who cannot be counted within the mother the earth, where he perisheth not, but exnumber of moveables, unto which my heart doth pects a quickening. lean. And this dear freedom hath begotten me 7. So we see death exempts not a man from this peace, that I mourn not for that end which being, but only presents an alteration; yet there must be, nor spend one wish to have one minute are some men, I think, that stand otherwise peradded to the incertain date of my years. It was suaded. Death finds not a worse friend than an no mean apprehension of Lucian, who says of alderman, to whose door I never knew him welMenippus, that in his travels through hell he come; but he is an importunate guest, and will knew not the kings of the earth from other men, not be said nay. but only by their louder cryings and tears: which And though they themselves shall affirm, that was fostered in them through the remorseful me- they are not within, yet the answer will not be mory of the good days they had seen, and the taken; and that which heightens their fear is, fruitful havings which they so unwillingly left that they know they are in danger to forfeit their behind them: he that was well seated, looked filesh, but are not wise of the payment day: which back at his portion, and was loath to forsake his sickly uncertainty is the occasion that, for the farm ; and others either minding marriages, most part they step out of this world unfurnished pleasures, profit, or preferment, desired to be ex- for their general account, and being all unprocused from death's banquet: they had made an vided, desire yet to hold their gravity, preparing appointment with earth, looking at the blessings, their souls to answer in scarlet. not the hand that enlarged them, forgetting how Thus I gather, that death is unagreeable to unclothedly they came hither, or with what naked most citizens, because they commonly die intesornaments they were arrayed.
tate: this being a rule, that when their will is 5. But were we servants of the precept given, made, they think themselves nearer a grave than and observers of the heathen's rule “memento before; now they out of the wisdom of thousands mori,” and not become benighted with this seem- think to scare destiny from which there is no aping felicity, we should enjoy it as men prepared peal, by not making a will, or to live longer by to lose and not wind up our thoughts upon so protestation of their unwillingness to die. They perishing a fortune: he that is not slackly strong, are for the most part well made in this world, acas the servants of pleasure, how can he be found counting their treasure by legions, as men do unready to quit the veil and false visage of his devils, their fortune looks toward them, and they perfection? The soul having shaken off her are willing to anchor at it, and desire, if it be posflesh, doth then set up for herself, and contemn- sible, to put the evil day far off from them, and to ing things that are under, shows what finger hath adjourn their ungrateful and killing period. enforced her; for the souls of idiots are of the No, these are not the men which have bespoken same piece with those of statesmen, but now and death, or whose looks are assured to entertain a then nature is at a fault, and this good guest of thought of him. ours takes soil in an imperfect body, and so is 8. Death arrives gracious only to such as sit in slackened from showing her wonders; like an darkness, or lie heavy burdened with grief and excellent musician, which cannot utter himself irons; to the poor Christian, that sits bound in upon a defective instrument.
the galley; to despairful widows, pensive pri6. But see how I am swerved, and lose my soners, and deposed kings: to them whose fortune course, touching at the soul, that doth least hold runs back, and whose spirits mutiny; unto such action with death, who hath the surest property death is a redeemer, and the grave a place for in this frail act; his style is the end of all flesh, retiredness and rest. and the beginning of incorruption.
These wait upon the shore of death, and waft This ruler of monuments leads men for the unto him to draw near, wishing above all others to see his star, that they might be led to his place, | hold grief no evil, but opinion, and a thing inwooing the remorseless sisters to wind down the different. watch of their life, and to break them off before But I consent with Cæsar, that the suddenest the hour.
passage is easiest, and there is nothing more 9. But death is a doleful messenger to a usurer, awakens our resolve and readiness to die, than the and fate untimely cuts their thread: for it is quieted conscience, strengthened with opinion never mentioned by him, but when rumours of that we shall be well spoken of upon earth by war and civil tumults put him in mind thereof. those that are just and of the family of virtue; the
And when many hands are armed, and the peace opposite whereof is a fury man, and makes even of a city in disorder, and the foot of the common life unsweet. soldiers sounds an alarm on his stairs, then per- Therefore, what is more heavy than evil fame haps such a one, broken in thoughts of his moneys deserved? Or, likewise, who can see worse days, abroad, and cursing the monuments of coin which than he that yet living doth follow at the funerals are in his house, can be content to think of death ; of his own reputation ? and, being hasty of perdition, will perhaps hang I have laid up many hopes, that I am privileged himself, lest his throat should be cut; provided from that kind of mourning, and could wish the that he may do it in his study, surrounded with like peace to all those with whom I wage love. wealth, to which his eye sends a faint and 12. I might say much of the commodities that languishing salute, even upon the turning off; death can sell a man; but briefly, death is a friend remembering always, that he have time and of ours, and he that is not ready to entertain him liberty by writing, to depute himself as his own is not at home. Whilst I am, my ambition is not heir.
to foreflow the tide; I have but so to make my For that is a great peace to his end, and recon- interest of it, as I may account for it; I would ciles him wonderfully upon the point.
wish nothing but what might better my days, 10. Herein we all dally with ourselves, and are nor desire any greater place than in the front of without proof of necessity. I am not of those good opinion. I make not love to the continuance that dare promise to pine away myself in vain of days, but to the goodness of them; nor wish to glory, and I hold such to be but feat boldness, die, but refer myself to my hour, which the great and them that dare commit it to be vain. Yet Dispenser of all things hath appointed me; yet as for my part, I think nature should do me great I am frail, and suffered for the first fault, were wrong, if I should be so long in dying as I was it given me to choose, I should not be earnest to in being born.
see the evening of my age ; that extremity of itTo speak truth, no man knows the lists of his self being a disease, and a mere return into infancy; own patience; nor can divine how able he shall so that if perpetuity of life might be given me, I be in his sufferings, till the storm come; the per- should think what the Greek poet said, “Such an fectest virtue being tried in action : but I would, age is a mortal evil.” And since I must needs be out of a care to do the best business well, ever dead, I require it may not be done before mine keep a guard, and stand upon keeping faith and enemies, that I be not stript before I be cold: but a good conscience.
before my friends. The night was even now; but 11. And if wishes might find place, I would that name is lost; it is not now late, but early. die together, and not my mind often, and my body Mine eyes begin to discharge their watch, and once; that is, I would prepare for the messengers compound with this fleshly weakness for a time of death, sickness and affliction, and not wait of perpetual rest; and I shall presently be as long, or be attempted by the violence of pain. happy for a few hours, as I had died the first
Herein I do not profess myself a Stoic, to I hour I was born.