Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Essays by Francis Bacon

Part 1 out of 4

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.4 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

Francis Bacon



Of Truth
Of Death
Of Unity in Religion
Of Revenge
Of Adversity
Of Simulation and Dissimulation
Of Parents and Children
Of Marriage and Single Life
Of Envy
Of Love
Of Great Place
Of Boldness
Of Goodness and Goodness of Nature
Of Nobility
Of Seditions and Troubles
Of Atheism
Of Superstition
Of Travel
Of Empire
Of Counsel
Of Delays
Of Cunning
Of Wisdom for a Man's Self
Of Innovations
Of Dispatch
Of Seeming Wise
Of Friendship
Of Expense
Of the True Greatness of Kingdoms and Estates
Of Regiment of Health
Of Suspicion
Of Discourse
Of Plantations
Of Riches
Of Prophecies
Of Ambition
Of Masques and Triumphs
Of Nature in Men
Of Custom and Education
Of Fortune
Of Usury
Of Youth and Age
Of Beauty
Of Deformity
Of Building
Of Gardens
Of Negotiating
Of Followers and Friends
Of Suitors
Of Studies
Of Faction
Of Ceremonies and Respects
Of Praise
Of Vain-glory
Of Honor and Reputation
Of Judicature
Of Anger
Of Vicissitude of Things
Of Fame








SALOMON saies; A good Name is as a precious
oyntment; And I assure my selfe, such wil
your Graces Name bee, with Posteritie. For your
Fortune, and Merit both, have been Eminent. And
you have planted Things, that are like to last. I doe
now publish my Essayes; which, of all my other
workes, have beene most Currant: For that, as it
seemes, they come home, to Mens Businesse, and
Bosomes. I have enlarged them, both in Number,
and Weight; So that they are indeed a New Worke.
I thought it therefore agreeable, to my Affection,
and Obligation to your Grace, to prefix your Name
before them, both in English, and in Latine. For I
doe conceive, that the Latine Volume of them,
(being in the Universall Language) may last, as
long as Bookes last. My Instauration, I dedicated to
the King: My Historie of Henry the Seventh,
(which I have now also translated into Latine) and
my Portions of Naturall History, to the Prince:
And these I dedicate to your Grace; Being of the
best Fruits, that by the good Encrease, which God
gives to my Pen and Labours, I could yeeld.
God leade your Grace by the Hand. Your Graces
most Obliged and faithfull Servant,


Of Truth

WHAT is truth? said jesting Pilate,and would
not stay for an answer. Certainly there be,
that delight in giddiness, and count it a bondage to
fix a belief; affecting free-will in thinking, as well
as in acting. And though the sects of philosophers
of that kind be gone, yet there remain certain dis-
coursing wits, which are of the same veins, though
there be not so much blood in them, as was in those
of the ancients. But it is not only the difficulty and
labor, which men take in finding out of truth, nor
again, that when it is found, it imposeth upon
men's thoughts, that doth bring lies in favor; but
a natural, though corrupt love, of the lie itself. One
of the later school of the Grecians, examineth the
matter, and is at a stand, to think what should be
in it, that men should love lies; where neither they
make for pleasure, as with poets, nor for advan-
tage, as with the merchant; but for the lie's sake.
But I cannot tell; this same truth, is a naked, and
open day-light, that doth not show the masks, and
mummeries, and triumphs, of the world, half so
stately and daintily as candle-lights. Truth may
perhaps come to the price of a pearl, that showeth
best by day; but it will not rise to the price of a
diamond, or carbuncle, that showeth best in varied
lights. A mixture of a lie doth ever add pleasure.
Doth any man doubt, that if there were taken out
of men's minds, vain opinions, flattering hopes,
false valuations, imaginations as one would, and
the like, but it would leave the minds, of a number
of men, poor shrunken things, full of melancholy
and indisposition, and unpleasing to themselves?

One of the fathers, in great severity, called poesy
vinum daemonum, because it fireth the imagina-
tion; and yet, it is but with the shadow of a lie.
But it is not the lie that passeth through the mind,
but the lie that sinketh in, and settleth in it, that
doth the hurt; such as we spake of before. But how-
soever these things are thus in men's depraved
judgments, and affections, yet truth, which only
doth judge itself, teacheth that the inquiry of truth,
which is the love-making, or wooing of it, the
knowledge of truth, which is the presence of it, and
the belief of truth, which is the enjoying of it, is
the sovereign good of human nature. The first
creature of God, in the works of the days, was the
light of the sense; the last, was the light of reason;
and his sabbath work ever since, is the illumina-
tion of his Spirit. First he breathed light, upon the
face of the matter or chaos; then he breathed light,
into the face of man; and still he breatheth and in-
spireth light, into the face of his chosen. The poet,
that beautified the sect, that was otherwise in-
ferior to the rest, saith yet excellently well: It is a
pleasure, to stand upon the shore, and to see ships
tossed upon the sea; a pleasure, to stand in the win-
dow of a castle, and to see a battle, and the adven-
tures thereof below: but no pleasure is comparable
to the standing upon the vantage ground of truth
(a hill not to be commanded, and where the air is
always clear and serene), and to see the errors, and
wanderings, and mists, and tempests, in the vale
below; so always that this prospect be with pity,
and not with swelling, or pride. Certainly, it is
heaven upon earth, to have a man's mind move in
charity, rest in providence, and turn upon the
poles of truth.

To pass from theological, and philosophical
truth, to the truth of civil business; it will be ac-
knowledged, even by those that practise it not, that
clear, and round dealing, is the honor of man's
nature; and that mixture of falsehoods, is like alloy
in coin of gold and silver, which may make the
metal work the better, but it embaseth it. For these
winding, and crooked courses, are the goings of the
serpent; which goeth basely upon the belly, and
not upon the feet. There is no vice, that doth so
cover a man with shame, as to be found false and
perfidious. And therefore Montaigne saith pret-
tily, when he inquired the reason, why the word
of the lie should be such a disgrace, and such an
odious charge? Saith he, If it be well weighed, to
say that a man lieth, is as much to say, as that he is
brave towards God, and a coward towards men.
For a lie faces God, and shrinks from man. Surely
the wickedness of falsehood, and breach of faith,
cannot possibly be so highly expressed, as in that
it shall be the last peal, to call the judgments of God
upon the generations of men; it being foretold,
that when Christ cometh, he shall not find faith
upon the earth.

Of Death

MEN fear death, as children fear to go in the
dark; and as that natural fear in children,
is increased with tales, so is the other. Certainly,
the contemplation of death, as the wages of sin,
and passage to another world, is holy and relig-
ious; but the fear of it, as a tribute due unto nature,
is weak. Yet in religious meditations, there is some-
times mixture of vanity, and of superstition. You
shall read, in some of the friars' books of mortifica-
tion, that a man should think with himself, what
the pain is, if he have but his finger's end pressed,
or tortured, and thereby imagine, what the pains
of death are, when the whole body is corrupted,
and dissolved; when many times death passeth,
with less pain than the torture of a limb; for the
most vital parts, are not the quickest of sense. And
by him that spake only as a philosopher, and nat-
ural man, it was well said, Pompa mortis magis
terret, quam mors ipsa. Groans, and convulsions,
and a discolored face, and friends weeping, and
blacks, and obsequies, and the like, show death
terrible. It is worthy the observing, that there is no
passion in the mind of man, so weak, but it mates,
and masters, the fear of death; and therefore,
death is no such terrible enemy, when a man hath
so many attendants about him, that can win the
combat of him. Revenge triumphs over death; love
slights it; honor aspireth to it; grief flieth to it; fear
preoccupateth it; nay, we read, after Otho the em-
peror had slain himself, pity (which is the tender-
est of affections) provoked many to die, out of mere
compassion to their sovereign, and as the truest
sort of followers. Nay, Seneca adds niceness and
satiety: Cogita quamdiu eadem feceris; mori velle,
non tantum fortis aut miser, sed etiam fastidiosus
potest. A man would die, though he were neither
valiant, nor miserable, only upon a weariness to
do the same thing so oft, over and over. It is no less
worthy, to observe, how little alteration in good
spirits, the approaches of death make; for they
appear to be the same men, till the last instant.
Augustus Caesar died in a compliment; Livia, con-
jugii nostri memor, vive et vale. Tiberius in dissi-
mulation; as Tacitus saith of him, Jam Tiberium
vires et corpus, non dissimulatio, deserebant. Ves-
pasian in a jest, sitting upon the stool; Ut puto deus
fio. Galba with a sentence; Feri, si ex re sit populi
Romani; holding forth his neck. Septimius Severus
in despatch; Adeste si quid mihi restat agendum.
And the like. Certainly the Stoics bestowed too
much cost upon death, and by their great prepara-
tions, made it appear more fearful. Better saith he,
qui finem vitae extremum inter munera ponat
naturae. It is as natural to die, as to be born; and to
a little infant, perhaps, the one is as painful, as the
other. He that dies in an earnest pursuit, is like one
that is wounded in hot blood; who, for the time,
scarce feels the hurt; and therefore a mind fixed,
and bent upon somewhat that is good, doth avert
the dolors of death. But, above all, believe it, the
sweetest canticle is', Nunc dimittis; when a man
hath obtained worthy ends, and expectations.
Death hath this also; that it openeth the gate to
good fame, and extinguisheth envy. - Extinctus
amabitur idem.

Of Unity


RELIGION being the chief band of human so-
ciety, it is a happy thing, when itself is well
contained within the true band of unity. The
quarrels, and divisions about religion, were evils
unknown to the heathen. The reason was, because
the religion of the heathen, consisted rather in
rites and ceremonies, than in any constant belief.
For you may imagine, what kind of faith theirs
was, when the chief doctors, and fathers of their
church, were the poets. But the true God hath this
attribute, that he is a jealous God; and therefore,
his worship and religion, will endure no mixture,
nor partner.We shall therefore speak a few words,
concerning the unity of the church; what are the
fruits thereof ; what the bounds; and what the

The fruits of unity (next unto the well pleasing
of God, which is all in all) are two: the one, towards
those that are without the church, the other,
towards those that are within. For the former; it is
certain, that heresies, and schisms, are of all others
the greatest scandals; yea, more than corruption
of manners. For as in the natural body, a wound,
or solution of continuity, is worse than a corrupt
humor; so in the spiritual. So that nothing, doth so
much keep men out of the church, and drive men
out of the church, as breach of unity. And there-
fore, whensoever it cometh to that pass, that one
saith, Ecce in deserto, another saith, Ecce in pene-
tralibus; that is, when some men seek Christ, in the
conventicles of heretics, and others, in an outward
face of a church, that voice had need continually
to sound in men's ears, Nolite exire, - Go not out.
The doctor of the Gentiles (the propriety of whose
vocation, drew him to have a special care of those
without) saith, if an heathen come in, and hear
you speak with several tongues, will he not say
that you are mad? And certainly it is little better,
when atheists, and profane persons, do hear of
so many discordant, and contrary opinions in re-
ligion; it doth avert them from the church, and
maketh them, to sit down in the chair of the
scorners. It is but a light thing, to be vouched in so
serious a matter, but yet it expresseth well the
deformity. There is a master of scoffing, that in his
catalogue of books of a feigned library, sets down
this title of a book, The Morris-Dance of Heretics.
For indeed, every sect of them, hath a diverse pos-
ture, or cringe by themselves, which cannot but
move derision in worldlings, and depraved politics,
who are apt to contemn holy things.

As for the fruit towards those that are within; it
is peace; which containeth infinite blessings. It
establisheth faith; it kindleth charity; the outward
peace of the church, distilleth into peace of con-
science; and it turneth the labors of writing, and
reading of controversies, into treaties of mortifica-
tion and devotion.

Concerning the bounds of unity; the true plac-
ing of them, importeth exceedingly. There appear
to be two extremes. For to certain zealants, all
speech of pacification is odious. Is it peace, Jehu,?
What hast thou to do with peace? turn thee be-
hind me. Peace is not the matter, but following,
and party. Contrariwise, certain Laodiceans, and
lukewarm persons, think they may accommodate
points of religion, by middle way, and taking part
of both, and witty reconcilements; as if they would
make an arbitrament between God and man. Both
these extremes are to be avoided; which will be
done, if the league of Christians, penned by our
Savior himself, were in two cross clauses thereof,
soundly and plainly expounded: He that is not
with us, is against us; and again, He that is not
against us, is with us; that is, if the points funda-
mental and of substance in religion, were truly
discerned and distinguished, from points not
merely of faith, but of opinion, order, or good in-
tention. This is a thing may seem to many a matter
trivial, and done already. But if it were done less
partially, it would be embraced more generally.

Of this I may give only this advice, according to
my small model. Men ought to take heed, of rend-
ing God's church, by two kinds of controversies.
The one is, when the matter of the point contro-
verted, is too small and light, not worth the heat
and strife about it, kindled only by contradiction.
For, as it is noted, by one of the fathers, Christ's
coat indeed had no seam, but the church's vesture
was of divers colors; whereupon he saith, In veste
varietas sit, scissura non sit; they be two things,
unity and uniformity. The other is, when the
matter of the point controverted, is great, but it is
driven to an over-great subtilty, and obscurity; so
that it becometh a thing rather ingenious, than
substantial. A man that is of judgment and under-
standing, shall sometimes hear ignorant men dif-
fer, and know well within himself, that those
which so differ, mean one thing, and yet they
themselves would never agree. And if it come so
to pass, in that distance of judgment, which is be-
tween man and man, shall we not think that God
above, that knows the heart, doth not discern that
frail men, in some of their contradictions, intend
the same thing; and accepteth of both? The nature
of such controversies is excellently expressed, by
St. Paul, in the warning and precept, that he giveth
concerning the same, Devita profanas vocum novi-
tates, et oppositiones falsi nominis scientiae. Men
create oppositions, which are not; and put them
into new terms, so fixed, as whereas the meaning
ought to govern the term, the term in effect gov-
erneth the meaning.There be also two false peaces,
or unities: the one, when the peace is grounded,
but upon an implicit ignorance; for all colors will
agree in the dark: the other, when it is pieced up,
upon a direct admission of contraries, in funda-
mental points. For truth and falsehood, in such
things, are like the iron and clay, in the toes of
Nebuchadnezzar's image; they may cleave, but
they will not incorporate.

Concerning the means of procuring unity; men
must beware, that in the procuring, or reuniting,
of religious unity, they do not dissolve and deface
the laws of charity, and of human society. There
be two swords amongst Christians, the spiritual
and temporal; and both have their due office and
place, in the maintenance of religion. But we may
not take up the third sword, which is Mahomet's
sword, or like unto it; that is, to propagate religion
by wars, or by sanguinary persecutions to force
consciences; except it be in cases of overt scandal,
blasphemy, or intermixture of practice against
the state; much less to nourish seditions; to author-
ize conspiracies and rebellions; to put the sword
into the people's hands; and the like; tending to
the subversion of all government, which is the
ordinance of God. For this is but to dash the first
table against the second; and so to consider men
as Christians, as we forget that they are men.
Lucretius the poet, when he beheld the act of Aga-
memnon, that could endure the sacrificing of his
own daughter, exclaimed: Tantum Religio potuit
suadere malorum.

What would he have said, if he had known of
the massacre in France, or the powder treason of
England? He would have been seven times more
Epicure, and atheist, than he was. For as the tem-
poral sword is to be drawn with great circumspec-
tion in cases of religion; so it is a thing monstrous
to put it into the hands of the common people. Let
that be left unto the Anabaptists, and other furies.
It was great blasphemy, when the devil said, I will
ascend, and be like the highest; but it is greater
blasphemy, to personate God, and bring him in
saying, I will descend, and be like the prince of
darkness; and what is it better, to make the cause
of religion to descend, to the cruel and execrable
actions of murthering princes, butchery of people,
and subversion of states and governments? Surely
this is to bring down the Holy Ghost, instead of the
likeness of a dove, in the shape of a vulture or
raven; and set, out of the bark of a Christian
church, a flag of a bark of pirates, and assassins.
Therefore it is most necessary, that the church, by
doctrine and decree, princes by their sword, and
all learnings, both Christian and moral, as by their
Mercury rod, do damn and send to hell for ever,
those facts and opinions tending to the support of
the same; as hath been already in good part done.
Surely in counsels concerning religion, that coun-
sel of the apostle would be prefixed, Ira hominis
non implet justitiam Dei. And it was a notable
observation of a wise father, and no less ingenu-
ously confessed; that those which held and per-
suaded pressure of consciences, were commonly
interested therein., themselves, for their own ends.

Of Revenge

REVENGE is a kind of wild justice; which the
more man' s nature runs to, the more ought
law to weed it out. For as for the first wrong, it
doth but offend the law; but the revenge of that
wrong, putteth the law out of office. Certainly, in
taking revenge, a man is but even with his enemy;
but in passing it over, he is superior; for it is a
prince's part to pardon. And Solomon, I am sure,
saith, It is the glory of a man, to pass by an offence.
That which is past is gone, and irrevocable; and
wise men have enough to do, with things present
and to come; therefore they do but trifle with
themselves, that labor in past matters. There is no
man doth a wrong, for the wrong's sake; but
thereby to purchase himself profit, or pleasure, or
honor, or the like. Therefore why should I be
angry with a man, for loving himself better than
me? And if any man should do wrong, merely out
of ill-nature, why, yet it is but like the thorn or
briar, which prick and scratch, because they can
do no other. The most tolerable sort of revenge, is
for those wrongs which there is no law to remedy;
but then let a man take heed, the revenge be such
as there is no law to punish; else a man's enemy is
still before hand, and it is two for one. Some, when
they take revenge, are desirous, the party should
know, whence it cometh. This is the more gener-
ous. For the delight seemeth to be, not so much in
doing the hurt, as in making the party repent. But
base and crafty cowards, are like the arrow that
flieth in the dark. Cosmus, duke of Florence, had a
desperate saying against perfidious or neglecting
friends, as if those wrongs were unpardonable;
You shall read (saith he) that we are commanded
to forgive our enemies; but you never read, that we
are commanded to forgive our friends. But yet the
spirit of Job was in a better tune: Shall we (saith
he) take good at God's hands, and not be content to
take evil also? And so of friends in a proportion.
This is certain, that a man that studieth revenge,
keeps his own wounds green, which otherwise
would heal, and do well. Public revenges are for
the most part fortunate; as that for the death of
Caesar; for the death of Pertinax; for the death of
Henry the Third of France; and many more. But
in private revenges, it is not so. Nay rather, vindic-
tive persons live the life of witches; who, as they
are mischievous, so end they infortunate.

Of Adversity

IT WAS an high speech of Seneca (after the
manner of the Stoics), that the good things,
which belong to prosperity, are to be wished; but
the good things, that belong to adversity, are to be
admired. Bona rerum secundarum optabilia; ad-
versarum mirabilia. Certainly if miracles be the
command over nature, they appear most in adver-
sity. It is yet a higher speech of his, than the other
(much too high for a heathen), It is true greatness,
to have in one the frailty of a man, and the security
of a God. Vere magnum habere fragilitatem homi-
nis, securitatem Dei. This would have done better
in poesy, where transcendences are more allowed.
And the poets indeed have been busy with it; for
it is in effect the thing, which figured in that
strange fiction of the ancient poets, which seemeth
not to be without mystery; nay, and to have some
approach to the state of a Christian; that Hercules,
when he went to unbind Prometheus (by whom
human nature is represented), sailed the length of
the great ocean, in an earthen pot or pitcher; lively
describing Christian resolution, that saileth in the
frail bark of the flesh, through the waves of the
world. But to speak in a mean. The virtue of pros-
perity, is temperance; the virtue of adversity, is
fortitude; which in morals is the more heroical
virtue. Prosperity is the blessing of the Old Testa-
ment; adversity is the blessing of the New; which
carrieth the greater benediction, and the clearer
revelation of God's favor. Yet even in the Old
Testament, if you listen to David's harp, you shall
hear as many hearse-like airs as carols; and the
pencil of the Holy Ghost hath labored more in de-
scribing the afflictions of Job, than the felicities of
Solomon. Prosperity is not without many fears
and distastes; and adversity is not without com-
forts and hopes. We see in needle-works and em-
broideries, it is more pleasing to have a lively work,
upon a sad and solemn ground, than to have a dark
and melancholy work, upon a lightsome ground:
judge therefore of the pleasure of the heart, by the
pleasure of the eye. Certainly virtue is like precious
odors, most fragrant when they are incensed, or
crushed: for prosperity doth best discover vice, but
adversity doth best discover virtue.

Of Simulation

DISSIMULATION is but a faint kind of pol-
icy, or wisdom; for it asketh a strong wit,
and a strong heart, to know when to tell truth, and
to do it. Therefore it is the weaker sort of politics,
that are the great dissemblers.

Tacitus saith, Livia sorted well with the arts of
her husband, and dissimulation of her son; attri-
buting arts or policy to Augustus, and dissimula-
tion to Tiberius. And again, when Mucianus
encourageth Vespasian, to take arms against Vitel-
lius, he saith, We rise not against the piercing
judgment of Augustus, nor the extreme caution or
closeness of Tiberius. These properties, of arts or
policy, and dissimulation or closeness, are indeed
habits and faculties several, and to be distin-
guished. For if a man have that penetration of
judgment, as he can discern what things are to
be laid open, and what to be secreted, and what to
be showed at half lights, and to whom and when
(which indeed are arts of state, and arts of life, as
Tacitus well calleth them), to him, a habit of dis-
simulation is a hinderance and a poorness. But if
a man cannot obtain to that judgment, then it is
left to bim generally, to be close, and a dissembler.
For where a man cannot choose, or vary in parti-
culars, there it is good to take the safest, and wari-
est way, in general; like the going softly, by one
that cannot well see. Certainly the ablest men
that ever were, have had all an openness, and
frankness, of dealing; and a name of certainty and
veracity; but then they were like horses well
managed; for they could tell passing well, when to
stop or turn; and at such times, when they thought
the case indeed required dissimulation, if then
they used it, it came to pass that the former opin-
ion, spread abroad, of their good faith and clear-
ness of dealing, made them almost invisible.

There be three degrees of this hiding and veil-
ing of a man's self. The first, closeness, reservation,
and secrecy; when a man leaveth himself without
observation, or without hold to be taken, what he
is. The second, dissimulation, in the negative;
when a man lets fall signs and arguments, that he
is not, that he is. And the third, simulation, in the
affirmative; when a man industriously and ex-
pressly feigns and pretends to be, that he is not.

For the first of these, secrecy; it is indeed the
virtue of a confessor. And assuredly, the secret
man heareth many confessions. For who will open
himself, to a blab or a babbler? But if a man be
thought secret, it inviteth discovery; as the more
close air sucketh in the more open; and as in con-
fession, the revealing is not for worldly use, but for
the ease of a man's heart, so secret men come to
the knowledge of many things in that kind; while
men rather discharge their minds, than impart
their minds. In few words, mysteries are due to
secrecy. Besides (to say truth) nakedness is un-
comely, as well in mind as body; and it addeth no
small reverence, to men's manners and actions, if
they be not altogether open. As for talkers and
futile persons, they are commonly vain and credu-
lous withal. For he that talketh what he knoweth,
will also talk what he knoweth not. Therefore set it
down, that an habit of secrecy, is both politic and
moral. And in this part, it is good that a man's face
give his tongue leave to speak. For the discovery of
a man' s self, by the tracts of his countenance, is a
great weakness and betraying; by how much it is
many times more marked, and believed, than a
man's words.

For the second, which is dissimulation; it fol-
loweth many times upon secrecy, by a necessity;
so that he that will be secret, must be a dissembler
in some degree. For men are too cunning, to suffer
a man to keep an indifferent carriage between
both, and to be secret, without swaying the bal-
ance on either side. They will so beset a man with
questions, and draw him on, and pick it out of him,
that, without an absurd silence, he must show an
inclination one way; or if he do not, they will
gather as much by his silence, as by his speech. As
for equivocations, or oraculous speeches, they can-
not hold out long. So that no man can be secret,
except he give himself a little scope of dissimula-
tion; which is, as it were, but the skirts or train of

But for the third degree, which is simulation,
and false profession; that I hold more culpable,
and less politic; except it be in great and rare mat-
ters. And therefore a general custom of simulation
(which is this last degree) is a vice, using either of
a natural falseness or fearfulness, or of a mind that
hath some main faults, which because a man must
needs disguise, it maketh him practise simulation
in other things, lest his hand should be out of use.

The great advantages of simulation and dissi-
mulation are three. First, to lay asleep opposition,
and to surprise. For where a man's intentions are
published, it is an alarum, to call up all that are
against them. The second is, to reserve to a man's
self a fair retreat. For if a man engage himself by
a manifest declaration, he must go through or take
a fall. The third is, the better to discover the mind
of another. For to him that opens himself, men
will hardly show themselves adverse; but will fair
let him go on, and turn their freedom of speech, to
freedom of thought. And therefore it is a good
shrewd proverb of the Spaniard, Tell a lie and find
a troth. As if there were no way of discovery, but
by simulation. There be also three disadvantages,
to set it even. The first, that simulation and dissi-
mulation commonly carry with them a show of
fearfulness, which in any business, doth spoil the
feathers, of round flying up to the mark. The sec-
ond, that it puzzleth and perplexeth the conceits
of many, that perhaps would otherwise co-operate
with him; and makes a man walk almost alone, to
his own ends. The third and greatest is, that it
depriveth a man of one of the most principal in-
struments for action; which is trust and belief.
The best composition and temperature, is to have
openness in fame and opinion; secrecy in habit;
dissimulation in seasonable use; and a power to
feign, if there be no remedy.

Of Parents


THE joys of parents are secret; and so are their
griefs and fears. They cannot utter the one;
nor they will not utter the other. Children sweeten
labors; but they make misfortunes more bitter.
They increase the cares of life; but they mitigate
the remembrance of death. The perpetuity by
generation is common to beasts; but memory,
merit, and noble works, are proper to men. And
surely a man shall see the noblest works and foun-
dations have proceeded from childless men; which
have sought to express the images of their minds,
where those of their bodies have failed. So the care
of posterity is most in them, that have no posterity.
They that are the first raisers of their houses, are
most indulgent towards their children; beholding
them as the continuance, not only of their kind, but
of their work; and so both children and creatures.

The difference in affection, of parents towards
their several children, is many times unequal; and
sometimes unworthy; especially in the mothers;
as Solomon saith, A wise son rejoiceth the father,
but an ungracious son shames the mother. A man
shall see, where there is a house full of children,
one or two of the eldest respected, and the young-
est made wantons; but in the midst, some that
are as it were forgotten, who many times, never-
theless, prove the best. The illiberality of parents,
in allowance towards their children, is an harmful
error; makes them base; acquaints them with
shifts; makes them sort with mean company; and
makes them surfeit more when they come to
plenty. And therefore the proof is best, when men
keep their authority towards the children, but not
their purse. Men have a foolish manner (both par-
ents and schoolmasters and servants) in creating
and breeding an emulation between brothers, dur-
ing childhood, which many times sorteth to dis-
cord when they are men, and disturbeth families.
The Italians make little difference between chil-
dren, and nephews or near kinsfolks; but so they
be of the lump, they care not though they pass not
through their own body. And, to say truth, in
nature it is much a like matter; insomuch that we
see a nephew sometimes resembleth an uncle, or
a kinsman, more than his own parent; as the blood
happens. Let parents choose betimes, the vocations
and courses they mean their children should take;
for then they are most flexible; and let them not
too much apply themselves to the disposition of
their children, as thinking they will take best to
that, which they have most mind to. It is true, that
if the affection or aptness of the children be extra-
ordinary, then it is good not to cross it; but gener-
ally the precept is good, optimum elige, suave et
facile illud faciet consuetudo. Younger brothers
are commonly fortunate, but seldom or never
where the elder are disinherited.

Of Marriage


HE THAT hath wife and children hath given
hostages to fortune; for they are impedi-
ments to great enterprises, either of virtue or mis-
chief. Certainly the best works, and of greatest
merit for the public, have proceeded from the un-
married or childless men; which both in affection
and means, have married and endowed the public.
Yet it were great reason that those that have chil-
dren, should have greatest care of future times;
unto which they know they must transmit their
dearest pledges. Some there are, who though they
lead a single life, yet their thoughts do end with
themselves, and account future times imperti-
nences. Nay, there are some other, that account
wife and children, but as bills of charges. Nay
more, there are some foolish rich covetous men,
that take a pride, in having no children, because
they may be thought so much the richer. For per-
haps they have heard some talk, Such an one is a
great rich man, and another except to it, Yea, but
he hath a great charge of children; as if it were an
abatement to his riches. But the most ordinary
cause of a single life, is liberty, especially in certain
self-pleasing and humorous minds, which are so
sensible of every restraint, as they will go near to
think their girdles and garters, to be bonds and
shackles. Unmarried men are best friends, best
masters, best servants; but not always best sub-
jects; for they are light to run away; and almost
all fugitives, are of that condition. A single life
doth well with churchmen; for charity will hardly
water the ground, where it must first fill a pool. It
is indifferent for judges and magistrates; for if
they be facile and corrupt, you shall have a ser-
vant, five times worse than a wife. For soldiers, I
find the generals commonly in their hortatives,
put men in mind of their wives and children; and
I think the despising of marriage amongst the
Turks, maketh the vulgar soldier more base. Cer-
tainly wife and children are a kind of discipline
of humanity; and single men, though they may
be many times more charitable, because their
means are less exhaust, yet, on the other side, they
are more cruel and hardhearted (good to make
severe inquisitors), because their tenderness is not
so oft called upon. Grave natures, led by custom,
and therefore constant, are commonly loving hus-
bands, as was said of Ulysses, vetulam suam praetu-
lit immortalitati. Chaste women are often proud
and froward, as presuming upon the merit of their
chastity. It is one of the best bonds, both of chastity
and obedience, in the wife, if she think her hus-
band wise; which she will never do, if she find him
jealous. Wives are young men's mistresses; com-
panions for middle age; and old men's nurses. So
as a man may have a quarrel to marry, when he
will. But yet he was reputed one of the wise men,
that made answer to the question, when a man
should marry, - A young man not yet, an elder
man not at all. It is often seen that bad husbands,
have very good wives; whether it be, that it raiseth
the price of their husband's kindness, when it
comes; or that the wives take a pride in their
patience. But this never fails, if the bad husbands
were of their own choosing, against their friends'
consent; for then they will be sure to make good
their own folly.

Of Envy

THERE be none of the affections, which have
been noted to fascinate or bewitch, but love
and envy. They both have vehement wishes; they
frame themselves readily into imaginations and
suggestions; and they come easily into the eye,
especially upon the present of the objects; which
are the points that conduce to fascination, if any
such thing there be. We see likewise, the Scripture
calleth envy an evil eye; and the astrologers, call
the evil influences of the stars, evil aspects; so that
still there seemeth to be acknowledged, in the act
of envy, an ejaculation or irradiation of the eye.
Nay, some have been so curious, as to note, that
the times when the stroke or percussion of an envi-
ous eye doth most hurt, are when the party envied
is beheld in glory or triumph; for that sets an edge
upon envy: and besides, at such times the spirits
of the person envied, do come forth most into the
outward parts, and so meet the blow.

But leaving these curiosities (though not un-
worthy to be thought on, in fit place), we will
handle, what persons are apt to envy others; what
persons are most subject to be envied themselves;
and what is the difference between public and
private envy.

A man that hath no virtue in himself, ever en-
vieth virtue in others. For men's minds, will either
feed upon their own good, or upon others' evil; and
who wanteth the one, will prey upon the other;
and whoso is out of hope, to attain to another's
virtue, will seek to come at even hand, by depress-
ing another's fortune.

A man that is busy, and inquisitive, is com-
monly envious. For to know much of other men's
matters, cannot be because all that ado may con-
cern his own estate; therefore it must needs be,
that he taketh a kind of play-pleasure, in looking
upon the fortunes of others. Neither can he, that
mindeth but his own business, find much matter
for envy. For envy is a gadding passion, and walk-
eth the streets, and doth not keep home: Non est
curiosus, quin idem sit malevolus.

Men of noble birth, are noted to be envious
towards new men, when they rise. For the distance
is altered, and it is like a deceit of the eye, that
when others come on, they think themselves, go

Deformed persons, and eunuchs, and old men,
and bastards, are envious. For he that cannot pos-
sibly mend his own case, will do what he can, to
impair another's; except these defects light upon
a very brave, and heroical nature, which thinketh
to make his natural wants part of his honor; in that
it should be said, that an eunuch, or a lame man,
did such great matters; affecting the honor of a
miracle; as it was in Narses the eunuch, and Agesi-
laus and Tamberlanes, that were lame men.

The same is the case of men, that rise after ca-
lamities and misfortunes. For they are as men
fallen out with the times; and think other men's
harms, a redemption of their own sufferings.

They that desire to excel in too many matters,
out of levity and vain glory, are ever envious. For
they cannot want work; it being impossible, but
many, in some one of those things, should surpass
them. Which was the character of Adrian the Em-
peror; that mortally envied poets, and painters,
and artificers, in works wherein he had a vein to

Lastly, near kinsfolks, and fellows in office, and
those that have been bred together, are more apt
to envy their equals, when they are raised. For it
doth upbraid unto them their own fortunes, and
pointeth at them, and cometh oftener into their
remembrance, and incurreth likewise more into
the note of others; and envy ever redoubleth from
speech and fame. Cain's envy was the more vile
and malignant, towards his brother Abel, because
when his sacrifice was better accepted, there was
no body to look on. Thus much for those, that are
apt to envy.

Concerning those that are more or less subject
to envy: First, persons of eminent virtue, when
they are advanced, are less envied. For their for-
tune seemeth , but due unto them; and no man
envieth the payment of a debt, but rewards and
liberality rather. Again, envy is ever joined with
the comparing of a man's self; and where there is
no comparison, no envy; and therefore kings are
not envied, but by kings. Nevertheless it is to be
noted, that unworthy persons are most envied, at
their first coming in, and afterwards overcome it
better; whereas contrariwise, persons of worth
and merit are most envied, when their fortune
continueth long. For by that time, though their
virtue be the same, yet it hath not the same lustre;
for fresh men grow up that darken it.

Persons of noble blood, are less envied in their
rising. For it seemeth but right done to their birth.
Besides, there seemeth not much added to their
fortune; and envy is as the sunbeams, that beat
hotter upon a bank, or steep rising ground, than
upon a flat. And for the same reason, those that are
advanced by degrees, are less envied than those
that are advanced suddenly and per saltum.

Those that have joined with their honor great
travels, cares, or perils, are less subject to envy.
For men think that they earn their honors hardly,
and pity them sometimes; and pity ever healeth
envy. Wherefore you shall observe, that the more
deep and sober sort of politic persons, in their
greataess, are ever bemoaning themselves, what
a life they lead; chanting a quanta patimur! Not
that they feel it so, but only to abate the edge of
envy. But this is to be understood, of business that
is laid upon men, and not such, as they call unto
themselves. For nothing increaseth envy more,
than an unnecessary and ambitious engrossing of
business. And nothing doth extinguish envy more,
than for a great person to preserve all other infe-
rior officers, in their full lights and pre-eminences
of their places. For by that means, there be so
many screens between him and envy.

Above all, those are most subject to envy, which
carry the greatness of their fortunes, in an insolent
and proud manner; being never well, but while
they are showing how great they are, either by
outward pomp, or by triumphing over all opposi-
tion or competition; whereas wise men will rather
do sacrifice to envy, in suffering themselves some-
times of purpose to be crossed, and overborne in
things that do not much concern them. Notwith-
standing, so much is true, that the carriage of
greatness, in a plain and open manner (so it be
without arrogancy and vain glory) doth draw less
envy, than if it be in a more crafty and cunning
fashion. For in that course, a man doth but dis-
avow fortune; and seemeth to be conscious of his
own want in worth; and doth but teach others, to
envy him.

Lastly, to conclude this part; as we said in the
beginning, that the act of envy had somewhat in
it of witchcraft, so there is no other cure of envy,
but the cure of witchcraft; and that is, to remove
the lot (as they call it) and to lay it upon another.
For which purpose, the wiser sort of great persons,
bring in ever upon the stage somebody upon whom
to derive the envy, that would come upon them-
selves; sometimes upon ministers and servants;
sometimes upon colleagues and associates; and the
like; and for that turn there are never wanting,
some persons of violent and undertaking natures,
who, so they may have power and business, will
take it at any cost.

Now, to speak of public envy. There is yet some
good in public envy, whereas in private, there is
none. For public envy, is as an ostracism, that
eclipseth men, when they grow too great. And
therefore it is a bridle also to great ones, to keep
them within bounds.

This envy, being in the Latin word invidia,
goeth in the modern language, by the name of
discontentment; of which we shall speak, in hand-
ling sedition. It is a disease, in a state, like to infec-
tion. For as infection spreadeth upon that which is
sound, and tainteth it; so when envy is gotten once
into a state, it traduceth even the best actions
thereof, and turneth them into an ill odor. And
therefore there is little won, by intermingling of
plausible actions. For that doth argue but a weak-
ness, and fear of envy, which hurteth so much the
more, as it is likewise usual in infections; which
if you fear them, you call them upon you.

This public envy, seemeth to beat chiefly upon
principal officers or ministers, rather than upon
kings, and estates themselves. But this is a sure
rule, that if the envy upon the minister be great,
when the cause of it in him is small; or if the envy
be general, in a manner upon all the ministers of
an estate; then the envy (though hidden) is truly
upon the state itself. And so much of public envy
or discontentment, and the difference thereof from
private envy, which was handled in the first place.

We will add this in general, touching the affec-
tion of envy; that of all other affections, it is the
most importune and continual. For of other affec-
tions, there is occasion given, but now and then;
and therefore it was well said, Invidia festos dies
non agit: for it is ever working upon some or other.
And it is also noted, that love and envy do make a
man pine, which other affections do not, because
they are not so continual. It is also the vilest affec-
tion, and the most depraved; for which cause it
is the proper attribute of the devil, who is called,
the envious man, that soweth tares amongst the
wheat by night; as it always cometh to pass, that
envy worketh subtilly, and in the dark, and to the
prejudice of good things, such as is the wheat.

Of Love

THE stage is more beholding to love, than the
life of man. For as to the stage, love is ever
matter of comedies, and now and then of tragedies;
but in life it doth much mischief; sometimes like a
siren, sometimes like a fury. You may observe, that
amongst all the great and worthy persons (whereof
the memory remaineth, either ancient or recent)
there is not one, that hath been transported to
the mad degree of love: which shows that great
spirits, and great business, do keep out this weak
passion. You must except, nevertheless, Marcus
Antonius, the half partner of the empire of Rome,
and Appius Claudius, the decemvir and lawgiver;
whereof the former was indeed a voluptuous man,
and inordinate; but the latter was an austere and
wise man: and therefore it seems (though rarely)
that love can find entrance, not only into an open
heart, but also into a heart well fortified, if watch
be not well kept. It is a poor saying of Epicurus,
Satis magnum alter alteri theatrum sumus; as if
man, made for the contemplation of heaven, and
all noble objects, should do nothing but kneel be-
fore a little idol, and make himself a subject,
though not of the mouth (as beasts are), yet of the
eye; which was given him for higher purposes. It
is a strange thing, to note the excess of this passion,
and how it braves the nature, and value of things,
by this; that the speaking in a perpetual hyper-
bole, is comely in nothing but in love. Neither is it
merely in the phrase; for whereas it hath been
well said, that the arch-flatterer, with whom all
the petty flatterers have intelligence, is a man's
self; certainly the lover is more. For there was
never proud man thought so absurdly well of him-
self, as the lover doth of the person loved; and
therefore it was well said, That it is impossible to
love, and to be wise. Neither doth this weakness
appear to others only, and not to the party loved;
but to the loved most of all, except the love be reci-
proque. For it is a true rule, that love is ever re-
warded, either with the reciproque, or with an
inward and secret contempt. By how much the
more, men ought to beware of this passion, which
loseth not only other things, but itself! As for the
other losses, the poet's relation doth well figure
them: that he that preferred Helena, quitted the
gifts of Juno and Pallas. For whosoever esteemeth
too much of amorous affection, quitteth both riches
and wisdom. This passion hath his floods, in very
times of weakness; which are great prosperity, and
great adversity; though this latter hath been less
observed: both which times kindle love, and make
it more fervent, and therefore show it to be the
child of folly. They do best, who if they cannot but
admit love, yet make it keep quarters; and sever it
wholly from their serious affairs, and actions, of
life; for if it check once with business, it troubleth
men's fortunes, and maketh men, that they can no
ways be true to their own ends. I know not how,
but martial men are given to love: I think, it is but
as they are given to wine; for perils commonly ask
to be paid in pleasures. There is in man's nature, a
secret inclination and motion, towards love of
others, which if it be not spent upon some one or a
few, doth naturally spread itself towards many,
and maketh men become humane and charitable;
as it is seen sometime in friars. Nuptial love maketh
mankind; friendly love perfecteth it; but wanton
love corrupteth, and embaseth it.

Of Great Place

MEN in great place are thrice servants: ser-
vants of the sovereign or state; servants of
fame; and servants of business. So as they have no
freedom; neither in their persons, nor in their ac-
tions, nor in their times. It is a strange desire, to
seek power and to lose liberty: or to seek power
over others, and to lose power over a man's self.
The rising unto place is laborious; and by pains,
men come to greater pains; and it is sometimes
base; and by indignities, men come to dignities.
The standing is slippery, and the regress is either
a downfall, or at least an eclipse, which is a melan-
choly thing. Cum non sis qui fueris, non esse cur
velis vivere. Nay, retire men cannot when they
would, neither will they, when it were reason; but
are impatient of privateness, even in age and sick-
ness, which require the shadow; like old towns-
men, that will be still sitting at their street door,
though thereby they offer age to scom. Certainly
great persons had need to borrow other men's
opinions, to think themselves happy; for if they
judge by their own feeling, they cannot find it; but
if they think with themselves, what other men
think of them, and that other men would fain be,
as they are, then they are happy, as it were, by
report; when perhaps they find the contrary
within. For they are the first, that find their own
griefs, though they be the last, that find their
own faults. Certainly men in great fortunes are
strangers to themselves, and while they are in the
puzzle of business, they have no time to tend their
health, either of body or mind. Illi mors gravis
incubat, qui notus nimis omnibus, ignotus moritur
sibi. In place, there is license to do good, and evil;
whereof the latter is a curse: for in evil, the best
condition is not to win; the second, not to can. But
power to do good, is the true and lawful end of
aspiring. For good thoughts (though God accept
them) yet, towards men, are little better than good
dreams, except they be put in act; and that cannot
be, without power and place, as the vantage, and
commanding ground. Merit and good works, is
the end of man's motion; and conscience of the
same is the accomplishment of man's rest. For if a
man can be partaker of God's theatre, he shall like-
wise be partaker of God's rest. Et conversus Deus,
ut aspiceret opera quae fecerunt manus suae, vidit
quod omnia essent bona nimis; and then the sab-
bath. In the discharge of thy place, set before thee
the best examples; for imitation is a globe of pre-
cepts. And after a time, set before thee thine own
example; and examine thyself strictly, whether
thou didst not best at first. Neglect not also the
examples, of those that have carried themselves
ill, in the same place; not to set off thyself, by tax-
ing their memory, but to direct thyself, what to
avoid. Reform therefore, without bravery, or scan-
dal of former times and persons; but yet set it down
to thyself, as well to create good precedents, as to
follow them. Reduce things to the first institution,
and observe wherein, and how, they have degen-
erate; but yet ask counsel of both times; of the
ancient time, what is best; and of the latter time,
what is fittest. Seek to make thy course regular,
that men may know beforehand, what they may
expect; but be not too positive and peremptory;
and express thyself well, when thou digressest
from thy rule. Preserve the right of thy place; but
stir not questions of jurisdiction; and rather as-
sume thy right, in silence and de facto, than voice
it with claims, and challenges. Preserve likewise
the rights of inferior places; and think it more
honor, to direct in chief, than to be busy in all.
Embrace and invite helps, and advices, touching
the execution of thy place; and do not drive away
such, as bring thee information, as meddlers; but
accept of them in good part. The vices of authority
are chiefly four: delays, corruption, roughness,
and facility. For delays: give easy access; keep
times appointed; go through with that which is in
hand, and interlace not business, but of necessity.
For corruption: do not only bind thine own hands,
or thy servants' hands, from taking, but bind the
hands of suitors also, from offering. For integrity
used doth the one; but integrity professed, and
with a manifest detestation of bribery, doth the
other. And avoid not only the fault, but the sus-
picion. Whosoever is found variable, and changeth
manifestly without manifest cause, giveth sus-
picion of corruption. Therefore always, when thou
changest thine opinion or course, profess it plainly,
and declare it, together with the reasons that move
thee to change; and do not think to steal it. A
servant or a favorite, if he be inward, and no
other apparent cause of esteem, is commonly
thought, but a by-way to close corruption. For
roughness: it is a needless cause of discontent:
severity breedeth fear, but roughness breedeth
hate. Even reproofs from authority, ought to be
grave, and not taunting. As for facility: it is worse
than bribery. For bribes come but now and then;
but if importunity, or idle respects, lead a man, he
shall never be without. As Solomon saith, To re-
spect persons is not good; for such a man will
transgress for a piece of bread. It is most true, that
was anciently spoken, A place showeth the man.
And it showeth some to the better, and some to the
worse. Omnium consensu capax imperii, nisi im-
perasset, saith Tacitus of Galba; but of Vespasian
he saith, Solus imperantium, Vespasianus mutatus
in melius; though the one was meant of sufficiency,
the other of manners, and affection. It is an assured
sign of a worthy and generous spirit, whom honor
amends. For honor is, or should be, the place of
virtue; and as in nature, things move violently to
their place, and calmly in their place, so virtue in
ambition is violent, in authority settled and calm.
All rising to great place is by a winding star; and
if there be factions, it is good to side a man's self,
whilst he is in the rising, and to balance himself
when he is placed. Use the memory of thy prede-
cessor, fairly and tenderly; for if thou dost not, it is
a debt will sure be paid when thou art gone. If
thou have colleagues, respect them, and rather call
them, when they look not for it, than exclude
them , when they have reason to look to be called.
Be not too sensible, or too remembering, of thy
place in conversation, and private answers to
suitors; but let it rather be said, When he sits in
place, he is another man.

Of Boldness

IT IS a trivial grammar-school text, but yet
worthy a wise man's consideration. Question
was asked of Demosthenes, what was the chief
part of an orator? he answered, action; what next?
action; what next again? action. He said it, that
knew it best, and had, by nature, himself no ad-
vantage in that he commended. A strange thing,
that that part of an orator, which is but superficial,
and rather the virtue of a player, should be placed
so high, above those other noble parts, of invention,
elocution, and the rest; nay, almost alone, as if it
were all in all. But the reason is plain. There is in
human nature generally, more of the fool than of
the wise; and therefore those faculties, by which
the foolish part of men's minds is taken, are most
potent. Wonderful like is the case of boldness in
civil business: what first? boldness; what second
and third? boldness. And yet boldness is a child of
ignorance and baseness, far inferior to other parts.
But nevertheless it doth fascinate, and bind hand
and foot, those that are either shallow in judg-
ment, or weak in courage, which are the greatest
part; yea and prevaileth with wise men at weak
times. Therefore we see it hath done wonders, in
popular states; but with senates, and princes less;
and more ever upon the first entrance of bold per-
sons into action, than soon after; for boldness is an
ill keeper of promise. Surely, as there are mounte-
banks for the natural body, so are there mounte-
banks for the politic body; men that undertake
great cures, and perhaps have been lucky, in two
or three experiments, but want the grounds of
science, and therefore cannot hold out. Nay, you
shall see a bold fellow many times do Mahomet's
miracle. Mahomet made the people believe that
he would call an hill to him, and from the top of it
offer up his prayers, for the observers of his law.
The people assembled; Mahomet called the hill to
come to him, again and again; and when the hill
stood still, he was never a whit abashed, but said,
If the hill will not come to Mahomet, Mahomet
will go to the hill. So these men, when they have
promised great matters, and failed most shame-
fully, yet (if they have the perfection of boldness)
they will but slight it over, and make a turn, and
no more ado. Certainly to men of great judgment,
bold persons are a sport to behold; nay, and to the
vulgar also, boldness has somewhat of the ridicu-
lous. For if absurdity be the subject of laughter,
doubt you not but great boldness is seldom without
some absurdity. Especially it is a sport to see, when
a bold fellow is out of countenance; for that puts
his face into a most shrunken, and wooden pos-
ture; as needs it must; for in bashfulness, the spirits
do a little go and come; but with bold men, upon
like occasion, they stand at a stay; like a stale at
chess, where it is no mate, but yet the game cannot
stir. But this last were fitter for a satire than for a
serious observation. This is well to be weighed;
that boldness is ever blind; for it seeth not danger,
and inconveniences. Therefore it is ill in counsel,
good in execution; so that the right use of bold per-
sons is, that they never command in chief, but be
seconds, and under the direction of others. For in
counsel, it is good to see dangers; and in execution,
not to see them, except they be very great.

Of Goodness

I TAKE goodness in this sense, the affecting of
the weal of men, which is that the Grecians
call philanthropia; and the word humanity (as
it is used) is a little too light to express it. Good-
ness I call the habit, and goodness of nature, the
inclination. This of all virtues, and dignities of the
mind, is the greatest; being the character of the
Deity: and without it, man is a busy, mischievous,
wretched thing; no better than a kind of vermin.
Goodness answers to the theological virtue, char-
ity, and admits no excess, but error. The desire of
power in excess, caused the angels to fall; the desire
of knowledge in excess, caused man to fall: but in
charity there is no excess; neither can angel, nor
man, come in dan ger by it. The inclination to good-
ness, is imprinted deeply in the nature of man; in-
somuch, that if it issue not towards men, it will
take unto other living creatures; as it is seen in the
Turks, a cruel people, who nevertheless are kind
to beasts, and give alms, to dogs and birds; inso-
much, as Busbechius reporteth, a Christian boy, in
Constantinople, had like to have been stoned, for
gagging in a waggishness a long-billed fowl.
Errors indeed in this virtue of goodness, or charity,
may be committed. The Italians have an ungra-
cious proverb, Tanto buon che val niente: so
good, that he is good for nothing. And one of
the doctors of Italy, Nicholas Machiavel, had
the confidence to put in writing, almost in plain
terms, That the Christian faith, had given up good
men, in prey to those that are tyrannical and un-
just. Which he spake, because indeed there was
never law, or sect, or opinion, did so much mag-
nify goodness, as the Christian religion doth.
Therefore, to avoid the scandal and the danger
both, it is good, to take knowledge of the errors of
an habit so excellent. Seek the good of other men,
but be not in bondage to their faces or fancies; for
that is but facility, or softness; which taketh an
honest mind prisoner. Neither give thou AEsop's
cock a gem, who would be better pleased, and hap-
pier, if he had had a barley-corn. The example of
God, teacheth the lesson truly: He sendeth his rain,
and maketh his sun to shine, upon the just and
unjust; but he doth not rain wealth, nor shine
honor and virtues, upon men equally. Common
benefits, are to be communicate with all; but pe-
culiar benefits, with choice. And beware how in
making the portraiture, thou breakest the pattern.
For divinity, maketh the love of ourselves the pat-
tern; the love of our neighbors, but the portraiture.
Sell all thou hast, and give it to the poor, and fol-
low me: but, sell not all thou hast, except thou
come and follow me; that is, except thou have a
vocation, wherein thou mayest do as much good,
with little means as with great; for otherwise, in
feeding the streams, thou driest the fountain.
Neither is there only a habit of goodness, directed
by right reason; but there is in some men, even in
nature, a disposition towards it; as on the other
side, there is a natural malignity. For there be,
that in their nature do not affect the good of others.
The lighter sort of malignity, turneth but to a
crassness, or frowardness, or aptness to oppose, or
difficulties, or the like; but the deeper sort, to envy
and mere mischief. Such men, in other men's ca-
lamities, are, as it were, in season, and are ever on
the loading part: not so good as the dogs, that licked
Lazarus' sores; but like flies, that are still buzzing
upon any thing that is raw; misanthropi, that
make it their practice, to bring men to the bough,
and yet never a tree for the purpose in their gar-
dens, as Timon had. Such dispositions, are the very
errors of human nature; and yet they are the fittest
timber, to make great politics of; like to knee tim-
ber, that is good for ships, that are ordained to be
tossed; but not for building houses, that shall stand
firm. The parts and signs of goodness, are many. If
a man be gracious and courteous to strangers, it
shows he is a citizen of the world, and that his heart
is no island, cut off from other lands, but a conti-
nent, that joins to them. If he be compassionate
towards the afflictions of others, it shows that his
heart is like the noble tree, that is wounded itself,
when it gives the balm. If he easily pardons, and
remits offences, it shows that his mind is planted
above injuries; so that he cannot be shot. If he be
thankful for small benefits, it shows that he weighs
men's minds, and not their trash. But above all, if
he have St. Paul's perfection, that he would wish
to be anathema from Christ, for the salvation of
his brethren, it shows much of a divine nature, and
a kind of conformity with Christ himself

Of Nobility

WE WILL speak of nobility, first as a portion
of an estate, then as a condition of particu-
lar persons. A monarchy, where there is no nobil-
ity at all, is ever a pure and absolute tyranny; as
that of the Turks. For nobility attempers sover-
eignty, and draws the eyes of the people, somewhat
aside from the line royal. But for democracies,
they need it not; and they are commonly more
quiet, and less subject to sedition, than where there
are stirps of nobles. For men's eyes are upon the
business, and not upon the persons; or if upon the
persons, it is for the business' sake, as fittest, and
not for flags and pedigree. We see the Switzers last
well, notwithstanding their diversity of religion,
and of cantons. For utility is their bond, and not
respects. The united provinces of the Low Coun-
tries, in their government, excel; for where there
is an equality, the consultations are more indif-
ferent, and the payments and tributes, more
cheerful. A great and potent nobility, addeth
majesty to a monarch, but diminisheth power;
and putteth life and spirit into the people, but
presseth their fortune. It is well, when nobles are
not too great for sovereignty nor for justice; and
yet maintained in that height, as the insolency of
inferiors may be broken upon them, before it come
on too fast upon the majesty of kings. A numerous
nobility causeth poverty, and inconvenience in a
state; for it is a surcharge of expense; and besides,
it being of necessity, that many of the nobility fall,
in time, to be weak in fortune, it maketh a kind of
disproportion, between honor and means.

As for nobility in particular persons; it is a rev-
erend thing, to see an ancient castle or building,
not in decay; or to see a fair timber tree, sound and
perfect. How much more, to behold an ancient
noble family, which has stood against the waves
and weathers of time! For new nobility is but the
act of power, but ancient nobility is the act of time.
Those that are first raised to nobility, are com-
monly more virtuous, but less innocent, than their
descendants; for there is rarely any rising, but by
a commixture of good and evil arts. But it is reason,
the memory of their virtues remain to their pos-
terity, and their faults die with themselves. Nobil-
ity of birth commonly abateth industry; and he
that is not industrious, envieth him that is. Besides,
noble persons cannot go much higher; and he that
standeth at a stay, when others rise, can hardly
avoid motions of envy. On the other side, nobil-
ity extinguisheth the passive envy from others,
towards them; because they are in possession of
honor. Certainly, kings that have able men of
their nobility, shall find ease in employing them,
and a better slide into their business; for people
naturally bend to them, as born in some sort to

Of Seditions


SHEPHERDS of people, had need know the
calendars of tempests in state; which are com-
monly greatest, when things grow to equality; as
natural tempests are greatest about the Equinoc-
tia. And as there are certain hollow blasts of wind,
and secret swellings of seas before a tempest, so
are there in states:

--Ille etiam caecos instare tumultus
Saepe monet, fraudesque et operta tunescere bella.

Libels and licentious discourses against the state,
when they are frequent and open; and in like sort,
false news often running up and down, to the dis-
advantage of the state, and hastily embraced; are
amongst the signs of troubles. Virgil, giving the
pedigree of Fame, saith, she was sister to the Giants:

Illam Terra parens, irra irritata deorum,
Extremam (ut perhibent) Coeo Enceladoque sororem

As if fames were the relics of seditions past; but
they are no less, indeed, the preludes of seditions to
come. Howsoever he noteth it right, that seditious
tumults, and seditious fames, differ no more but
as brother and sister, masculine and feminine; es-
pecially if it come to that, that the best actions of
a state, and the most plausible, and which ought
to give greatest contentment, are taken in ill sense,
and traduced: for that shows the envy great, as
Tacitus saith; conflata magna invidia, seu bene
seu male gesta premunt. Neither doth it follow,
that because these fames are a sign of troubles, that
the suppressing of them with too much severity,
should be a remedy of troubles. For the despising
of them, many times checks them best; and the
going about to stop them, doth but make a wonder
long-lived. Also that kind of obedience, which
Tacitus speaketh of, is to be held suspected: Erant
in officio, sed tamen qui mallent mandata impe-
rantium interpretari quam exequi; disputing, ex-
cusing, cavilling upon mandates and directions, is
a kind of shaking off the yoke, and assay of dis-
obedience; especially if in those disputings, they
which are for the direction, speak fearfully and
tenderly, and those that are against it, audaciously.

Also, as Machiavel noteth well, when princes,
that ought to be common parents, make them-
selves as a party, and lean to a side, it is as a boat,
that is overthrown by uneven weight on the one
side; as was well seen, in the time of Henry the
Third of France; for first, himself entered league
for the extirpation of the Protestants; and pres-
ently after, the same league was turned upon him-
self. For when the authority of princes, is made
but an accessory to a cause, and that there be other
bands, that tie faster than the band of sovereignty,
kings begin to be put almost out of possession.

Also, when discords, and quarrels, and factions
are carried openly and audaciously, it is a sign the
reverence of government is lost. For the motions
of the greatest persons in a government, ought to
be as the motions of the planets under primum
mobile; according to the old opinion: which is,
that every of them, is carried swiftly by the
highest motion, and softly in their own motion.
And therefore, when great ones in their own
particular motion, move violently, and, as Tacitus
expresseth it well, liberius quam ut imperan-
tium meminissent; it is a sign the orbs are out
of frame. For reverence is that, wherewith princes
are girt from God; who threateneth the dissolving
thereof; Solvam cingula regum.

So when any of the four pillars of government,
are mainly shaken, or weakened (which are relig-
ion, justice, counsel, and treasure), men had need
to pray for fair weather. But let us pass from this
part of predictions (concerning which, neverthe-
less, more light may be taken from that which
followeth); and let us speak first, of the materials
of seditions; then of the motives of them; and
thirdly of the remedies.

Concerning the materials of seditions. It is a
thing well to be considered; for the surest way to
prevent seditions (if the times do bear it) is to take
away the matter of them. For if there be fuel pre-
pared, it is hard to tell, whence the spark shall
come, that shall set it on fire. The matter of sedi-
tions is of two kinds: much poverty, and much dis-
contentment. It is certain, so many overthrown
estates, so many votes for troubles. Lucan noteth
well the state of Rome before the Civil War,

Hinc usura vorax, rapidumque in tempore foenus,
Hinc concussa fides, et multis utile bellum.

This same multis utile bellum, is an assured and
infallible sign, of a state disposed to seditions and
troubles. And if this poverty and broken estate in
the better sort, be joined with a want and necessity
in the mean people, the danger is imminent and
great. For the rebellions of the belly are the worst.
As for discontentments, they are, in the politic
body, like to humors in the natural, which are apt
to gather a preternatural heat, and to inflame.
And let no prince measure the danger of them by
this, whether they be just or unjust: for that were
to imagine people, to be too reasonable; who do
often spurn at their own good: nor yet by this,
whether the griefs whereupon they rise, be in fact
great or small: for they are the most dangerous
discontentments, where the fear is greater than
the feeling. Dolendi modus, timendi non item.
Besides, in great oppressions, the same things that
provoke the patience, do withal mate the courage;
but in fears it is not so. Neither let any prince, or
state, be secure concerning discontentments, be-
cause they have been often, or have been long, and
yet no peril hath ensued: for as it is true, that every
vapor or fume doth not turn into a storm; so it is
nevertheless true, that storms, though they blow
over divers times, yet may fall at last; and, as the
Spanish proverb noteth well, The cord breaketh at
the last by the weakest pull.

The causes and motives of seditions are, innova-
tion in religion; taxes; alteration of laws and cus-
toms; breaking of privileges; general oppression;
advancement of unworthy persons; strangers;
dearths; disbanded soldiers; factions grown des-
perate; and what soever, in offending people,
joineth and knitteth them in a common cause.

For the remedies; there may be some general
preservatives, whereof we will speak: as for the
just cure, it must answer to the particular disease;
and so be left to counsel, rather than rule.

The first remedy or prevention is to remove, by
all means possible, that material cause of sedition
whereof we spake; which is, want and poverty in
the estate. To which purpose serveth the opening,
and well-balancing of trade; the cherishing of
manufactures; the banishing of idleness; the re-
pressing of waste, and excess, by sumptuary laws;
the improvement and husbanding of the soil; the
regulating of prices of things vendible; the moder-
ating of taxes and tributes; and the like. Generally,
it is to be foreseen that the population of a king-
dom (especially if it be not mown down by wars)
do not exceed the stock of the kingdom, which
should maintain them. Neither is the population
to be reckoned only by number; for a smaller num-
ber, that spend more and earn less, do wear out an
estate sooner, than a greater number that live
lower, and gather more. Therefore the multiply-
ing of nobility, and other degrees of quality, in an
over proportion to the common people, doth speed-
ily bring a state to necessity; and so doth likewise
an overgrown clergy; for they bring nothing to
the stock; and in like manner, when more are bred
scholars, than preferments can take off .

It is likewise to be remembered, that forasmuch
as the increase of any estate must be upon the
foreigner (for whatsoever is somewhere gotten, is
somewhere lost), there be but three things, which
one nation selleth unto another; the commodity as
nature yieldeth it; the manufacture; and the vec-
ture, or carriage. So that if these three wheels go,
wealth will flow as in a spring tide. And it cometh
many times to pass, that materiam superabit opus;
that the work and carriage is more worth than the
material, and enricheth a state more; as is notably
seen in the Low-Countrymen, who have the best
mines above ground, in the world.

Above all things, good policy is to be used, that
the treasure and moneys, in a state, be not gath-
ered into few hands. For otherwise a state may
have a great stock, and yet starve. And money is
like muck, not good except it be spread. This is
done, chiefly by suppressing, or at least keeping
a strait hand, upon the devouring trades of usury,
ingrossing great pasturages, and the like.

For removing discontentments, or at least the
danger of them; there is in every state (as we
know) two portions of subjects; the noblesse and
the commonalty. When one of these is discontent,
the danger is not great; for common people are of
slow motion, if they be not excited by the greater
sort; and the greater sort are of small strength,
except the multitude be apt, and ready to move of
themselves. Then is the danger, when the greater
sort, do but wait for the troubling of the waters
amongst the meaner, that then they may declare
themselves. The poets feign, that the rest of the
gods would have bound Jupiter; which he hearing
of, by the counsel of Pallas, sent for Briareus, with
his hundred hands, to come in to his aid. An em-
blem, no doubt, to show how safe it is for mon-
archs, to make sure of the good will of common
people. To give moderate liberty for griefs and dis-
contentments to evaporate (so it be without too
great insolency or bravery), is a safe way. For he
that turneth the humors back, and maketh the
wound bleed inwards, endangereth malign ulcers,
and pernicious imposthumations.

The part of Epimetheus mought well become
Prometheus, in the case of discontentments: for
there is not a better provision against them. Epime-
theus, when griefs and evils flew abroad, at last
shut the lid, and kept hope in the bottom of the
vessel. Certainly, the politic and artificial nourish-
ing, and entertaining of hopes, and carrying men
from hopes to hopes, is one of the best antidotes
against the poison of discontentments. And it is a
certain sign of a wise government and proceeding,
when it can hold men's hearts by hopes, when it
cannot by satisfaction; and when it can handle
things, in such manner, as no evil shall appear so
peremptory, but that it hath some outlet of hope;
which is the less hard to do, because both particu-
lar persons and factions, are apt enough to flatter
themselves, or at least to brave that, which they
believe not.

Also the foresight and prevention, that there be
no likely or fit head, whereunto discontented per-
sons may resort, and under whom they may join,
is a known, but an excellent point of caution. I
understand a fit head, to be one that hath great-
ness and reputation; that hath confidence with
the discontented party, and upon whom they turn
their eyes; and that is thought discontented, in his
own particular: which kind of persons, are either
to be won, and reconciled to the state, and that in
a fast and true manner; or to be fronted with some
other, of the same party, that may oppose them,
and so divide the reputation. Generally, the divid-
ing and breaking, of all factions and combinations
that are adverse to the state, and setting them at
distance, or at least distrust, amongst themselves,
is not one of the worst remedies. For it is a desper-
ate case, if those that hold with the proceeding of
the state, be full of discord and faction, and those
that are against it, be entire and united.

I have noted, that some witty and sharp
speeches, which have fallen from princes, have
given fire to seditions. Caesar did himself infinite
hurt in that speech, Sylla nescivit literas, non po-
tuit dictare; for it did utterly cut off that hope,
which men had entertained, that he would at one
time or other give over his dictatorship. Galba un-
did himself by that speech, legi a se militem, non
emi; for it put the soldiers out of hope of the dona-
tive. Probus likewise, by that speech, Si vixero,
non opus erit amplius Romano imperio militibus;
a speech of great despair for the soldiers. And
many the like. Surely princes had need, in tender
matters and ticklish times, to beware what they
say; especially in these short speeches, which fly
abroad like darts, and are thought to be shot out of
their secret intentions. For as for large discourses,
they are flat things, and not so much noted.

Lastly, let princes, against all events, not be
without some great person, one or rather more, of
military valor, near unto them, for the repressing
of seditions in their beginnings. For without that,
there useth to be more trepidation in court upon
the first breaking out of troubles, than were fit.
And the state runneth the danger of that which
Tacitus saith; Atque is habitus animorum fuit, ut
pessimum facinus auderent pauci, plures vellent,
omnes paterentur. But let such military persons be
assured, and well reputed of, rather than factious
and popular; holding also good correspondence
with the other great men in the state; or else the
remedy, is worse than the disease.

Of Atheism

I HAD rather believe all the fables in the Leg-
end, and the Talmud, and the Alcoran, than
that this universal frame is without a mind.
And therefore, God never wrought miracle, to
convince atheism, because his ordinary works con-
vince it. It is true, that a little philosophy inclineth
man's mind to atheism; but depth in philosophy
bringeth men's minds about to religion. For while
the mind of man looketh upon second causes scat-
tered, it may sometimes rest in them, and go no
further; but when it beholdeth the chain of them,
confederate and linked together, it must needs fly
to Providence and Deity. Nay, even that school
which is most accused of atheism doth most dem-
onstrate religion; that is, the school of Leucippus
and Democritus and Epicurus. For it is a thousand
times more credible, that four mutable elements,
and one immutable fifth essence, duly and eter-
nally placed, need no God, than that an army of
infinite small portions, or seeds unplaced, should
have produced this order and beauty, without a
divine marshal. The Scripture saith, The fool hath
said in his heart, there is no God; it is not said, The
fool hath thought in his heart; so as he rather saith
it, by rote to himself, as that he would have, than
that he can thoroughly believe it, or be persuaded
of it. For none deny, there is a God, but those, for
whom it maketh that there were no God. It ap-
peareth in nothing more, that atheism is rather in
the lip, than in the heart of man, than by this; that
atheists will ever be talking of that their opinion,
as if they fainted in it, within themselves, and
would be glad to be strengthened, by the consent
of others. Nay more, you shall have atheists strive
to get disciples, as it fareth with other sects. And,
which is most of all, you shall have of them, that
will suffer for atheism, and not recant; whereas if
they did truly think, that there were no such thing
as God, why should they trouble themselves? Epi-
curus is charged, that he did but dissemble for his
credit's sake, when he affirmed there were blessed
natures, but such as enjoyed themselves, without
having respect to the government of the world.
Wherein they say he did temporize; though in
secret, he thought there was no God. But certainly
he is traduced; for his words are noble and divine:
Non deos vulgi negare profanum; sed vulgi opini-
ones diis applicare profanum. Plato could have
said no more. And although he had the confidence,
to deny the administration, he had not the power,
to deny the nature. The Indians of the West, have
names for their particular gods, though they have
no name for God: as if the heathens should have
had the names Jupiter, Apollo, Mars, etc., but not
the word Deus; which shows that even those bar-
barous people have the notion, though they have
not the latitude and extent of it. So that against
atheists, the very savages take part, with the very
subtlest philosophers. The contemplative atheist is
rare: a Diagoras, a Bion, a Lucian perhaps, and
some others; and yet they seem to be more than
they are; for that all that impugn a received re-
ligion, or superstition, are by the adverse part
branded with the name of atheists. But the great
atheists, indeed are hypocrites; which are ever
handling holy things, but without feeling; so as
they must needs be cauterized in the end. The
causes of atheism are: divisions in religion, if they
be many; for any one main division, addeth zeal to
both sides; but many divisions introduce atheism.
Another is, scandal of priests; when it is come to
that which St. Bernard saith, non est jam dicere,
ut populus sic sacerdos; quia nec sic populus ut
sacerdos. A third is, custom of profane scoffing in
holy matters; which doth, by little and little, de-
face the reverence of religion. And lastly, learned
times, specially with peace and prosperity; for
troubles and adversities do more bow men's minds
to religion. They that deny a God, destroy man's
nobility; for certainly man is of kin to the beasts,
by his body; and, if he be not of kin to God, by his
spirit, he is a base and ignoble creature. It destroys
likewise magnanimity, and the raising of human
nature; for take an example of a dog, and mark
what a generosity and courage he will put on,
when he finds himself maintained by a man; who
to him is instead of a God, or melior natura; which
courage is manifestly such, as that creature, with-
out that confidence of a better nature than his own,
could never attain. So man, when he resteth and
assureth himself, upon divine protection and
favor, gathered a force and faith, which human
nature in itself could not obtain. Therefore, as
atheism is in all respects hateful, so in this, that it
depriveth human nature of the means to exalt it-

Book of the day: