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A Fragment

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


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 Syria into Germany and the legions of Germany into Syria; whereupon the legions of Syria were infinitely inflamed. Julius Cæsar took Pompey unprovided and laid asleep his industry and preparations, by a fame that he cunningly gave out: how Cæsar's own soldiers loved him not, and being wearied with the wars and laden with the spoils of Gaul, would forsake him as soon as he came into Italy. Livia settled all things for the succession of her son Tiberius by continual giving out that her husband Augustus was upon recovery and amendment. And it is an usual thing with the pashas to conceal the death of the Great Turk from the janizaries and men of war, to save the sacking of Constantinople and other towns, as their manner is. Themistocles made Xerxes, king of Persia, post apace out of Grecia by giving out that the Grecians had a purpose to break his bridge of ships which he had made athwart Hellespont. There be a thousand such like examples; and the more they are, the less they need to be repeated; because a man meeteth with them everywhere. Therefore let all wise governors have as great a watch and care over fames as they have of the actions and designs themselves.

[The essay was not finished.]



The following abbreviations will be used: cf., compare; A., Abbott; B., Bacon; R., Reynolds; S., Spedding; W., Wright; Adv., The Advancement of Learning; Life, Spedding's Letters and Life. Plutarch's Morals, unless otherwise noted, is quoted from Holland's translation, 2d edition, 1657; his Lives, from North's translation, ed. G. Wyndham, Tudor Translations, 1895.



1 Jesting Pilate: John xviii, 38. Was Pilate jesting? B., at any rate, makes him a type of the cynical skeptic.

2 In giddiness: Lat. "in a whirl of thoughts."

3 Philosophers of that kind: the Skeptics, of whom Pyrrho of Elis (365-c. 275 B. C.) was the first; he taught that if sense and reason singly deceive us, the two together cannot be expected to give us truth. We perceive things not as they really are, but as they appear in accidental relations; hence absolute knowledge is impossible. Other skeptics were Arcesilaus (315-241 B. c.) and Carneades of Cyrene (d. 129 B. C.), who represent the Middle and the New Academy respectively.

4 Discoursing wits: Lat. " windy and rambling." B. may here refer to Francisco Sanchez, the Portuguese-Spanish physician and skeptical philosopher (1562-1632), whose treatise That Nothing is Known (1581) begins: "I do not know even this, that I know nothing. I guess, however, that neither I nor others know anything." This treatise made a great stir at the time.

5 One of the later school: Lucian, Philopseudes, i. Cf. Essay xvi, note 15.

6 As candle-lights: cf. Essay xxxvii, p. 120, 11. 24 ff.

7 One of the fathers: R. thinks that here B. confuses two sayings: one by Jerome in a letter to Damasus, "Devil's food are the songs of poets;" the other by Augustine (Confessions, i, 16) in which he speaks of poetry as "wine of error furnished by drunken teachers." In Adv. xxii, 13, B. says: "Did not one of the fathers in great indignation call poesy vinum dæmonum, because it increaseth temptations, perturbations, and vain opinions?"

8 The poet: Lucretius, regarded as the ornament of the Epicureans; On the Nature of Things, ii, 1-13. Cf. Adv. viii, 5. 9 Move in charity: the figure is drawn from the Ptolemaic astronomy, thus outlined by Masson: The earth was regarded as the fixed centre of the universe, and the apparent


motions of the other heavenly bodies were caused by the revolutions of successive heavens, or spheres of space, enclosing the central earth at different distances. Nearest the earth were the spheres of the seven planets, the moon, Mercury, Venus, the sun, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Beyond these, as an eighth sphere, was the firmament of the fixed stars. This wheeled about diurnally, from east to west, carrying in it the fixed stars and with it all the interior spheres which had also separate slower motions of their own. The ninth sphere, the Crystalline, accounted for the procession of the equinoxes. The tenth sphere, enclosing the universe from absolute infinity, was the Primum Mobile, or "First Movable." This system was generally accepted down to the close of the seventeenth century. A. thus interprets B.: "The motions of heaven are transferred to earth, when a man's heart has charity for his Primum Mobile, providence for Space, truth for his Poles." Cf. Essay xv, p. 45, l. 1.

10 Truth of civil business: Lat. "truth or rather veracity." 11 Montaigne saith: Essays ii, 18: "To lie is an horrible-filthy vice, and which an ancient writer [Plutarch, Lives, iii, 233] setteth forth very shamefully when he saith that whosoever lieth, witnesseth that he contemneth God, and therewithal feareth men."

12 Peal: cf. Macbeth, iii, 2, 43.

Ere to black Hecate's summons

The shard-born beetle with his drowsy hums
Hath rung night's yawning peal.

13 It being foretold: Luke xviii, 8. Does "faith" here mean "truthfulness"?


1 Books of mortification: the reference has not been traced. 2 Him that spake: Seneca, Epistles, iii, 3, 14.

3 Blacks: garments of mourning. Cf. "Ere blacks were bought for his own funeral." B. Jonson, Epigrams, 44, 3. 4 We read: Plutarch, Lives, vi, 339.


5 Seneca adds: Epistles, x, 1, 6. Seneca (a celebrated Stoic philosopher and dramatist, 4 B. C.-65), really quoted the words from an address by Four Stoic friend" to a young man who had called a council of his friends to help him decide whether or not he should commit suicide.

6 Augustus Cæsar: Suetonius, Augustus, xcix.

7 Tacitus saith: Annals, vi, 50.

8 Vespasian: Roman emperor, 70-79; cf. Suetonius, Vespasian, xxiii.

9 Galba: Roman emperor, 68-69; cf. Tacitus, History, i, 41; Plutarch, Lives, vi, 318; Suetonius, Galba, xx.


10 Septimius Severus: Roman emperor, 193-211; cf. Dion Cassius, lxvii, 17.

11 The Stoics: "This is certainly true about Seneca, who returns to the subject again and again with most minute and tedious iteration." R. The Stoics took their name from the "Painted Porch" (Stoa) at Athens, where Zeno taught at the end of the fourth century B. C. They believed that men should be unmoved by joy or grief or passion and should submit to the necessity which governed the world; and that the supreme thing to attain was virtue.

12 Better saith he: Juvenal, Satires, x, 358. The original has "space" instead of "close."

13 Nunc dimittis: Luke ii, 29.

14 Extinctus amabitur idem: Horace, Epistles, ii, 1, 14.


1 The poets: this is true of the Greeks, but scarcely of the Romans. R.

2 A jealous God: Exodus xx, 3–6.

3 Ecce in deserto: Matthew xxiv, 26.

4 Doctor of the Gentiles: Paul, 1 Corinthians xiv, 23.

5 Sit down: Psalms i, 1.

6 Master of scoffing: Rabelais, Pantagruel, ii, 7. La morisque des héréticques was one of the books which_Pantagruel found in the library of St. Victor at Paris. In England, morris-dancing, with bells on the legs, was formerly common on May Day, Holy Thursday, and Whitsuntide. The dancers usually represented the characters of the Robin Hood legends.

7 Politics: here, as frequently, politicians.

8 Treaties: treatises; which word S. and A. substitute in the


9 Zealants: zealots; cf. Ital. zelante.

10 Is it peace: 2 Kings ix, 18, 19.

11 Laodiceans: Revelation iii, 14-16.

12 Cross clauses: Lat. "in those clauses which at first sight appear contradictory." Cf. Matthew xii, 30; Mark ix, 40. 13 One of the fathers: The Latin is quoted from St. Augustine, Commentary on Ps. xliv [xlv], 24; but it does not refer to Christ's coat. In several passages of St. Bernard is found the same fanciful interpretation. The illustration was a favorite with Bacon.

14 Shall we not think: modern usage regarding the negative is much more exact; in former times two negatives only strengthened an assertion.

15 Devita: 1 Timothy vi, 20.

16 Governeth the meaning: In Nov. Org., aph. lix, B. speaks of words reacting on the understanding, e. g. Fortune, Prime

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