Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…

Essays by Francis Bacon

Part 3 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.

there is but one case, wherein a man may com-
mend himself with good grace; and that is in
commending virtue in another; especially if it be
such a virtue, whereunto himself pretendeth.
Speech of touch towards others, should be spar-
ingly used; for discourse ought to be as a field,
without coming home to any man. I knew two
noblemen, of the west part of England, whereof
the one was given to scoff, but kept ever royal cheer
in his house; the other would ask, of those that had
been at the other's table, Tell truly, was there never
a flout or dry blow given? To which the guest
would answer, Such and such a thing passed.
The lord would say, I thought, he would mar a
good dinner. Discretion of speech, is more than
eloquence; and to speak agreeably to him, with
whom we deal, is more than to speak in good
words, or in good order. A good continued speech,
without a good speech of interlocution, shows
slowness: and a good reply or second speech, with-
out a good settled speech, showeth shallowness
and weakness. As we see in beasts, that those that
are weakest in the course, are yet nimblest in the
turn; as it is betwixt the greyhound and the hare.
To use too many circumstances, ere one come to
the matter, is wearisome; to use none at all, is

Of Plantations

PLANTATIONS are amongst ancient, primi-
tive, and heroical works. When the world was
young, it begat more children; but now it is old, it
begets fewer: for I may justly account new plan-
tations, to be the children of former kingdoms. I
like a plantation in a pure soil; that is, where
people are not displanted, to the end, to plant in
others. For else it is rather an extirpation, than a
plantation. Planting of countries, is like planting
of woods; for you must make account to leese al-
most twenty years' profit, and expect your recom-
pense in the end. For the principal thing, that hath
been the destruction of most plantations, hath
been the base and hasty drawing of profit, in the
first years. It is true, speedy profit is not to be neg-
lected, as far as may stand with the good of the
plantation, but no further. It is a shameful and
unblessed thing, to take the scum of people, and
wicked condemned men, to be the people with
whom you plant; and not only so, but it spoileth
the plantation; for they will ever live like rogues,
and not fall to work, but be lazy, and do mischief,
and spend victuals, and be quickly weary, and
then certify over to their country, to the discredit
of the plantation. The people wherewith you
plant ought to be gardeners, ploughmen, laborers,
smiths, carpenters, joiners, fishermen, fowlers,
with some few apothecaries, surgeons, cooks, and
bakers. In a country of plantation, first look about,
what kind of victual the country yields of itself to
hand; as chestnuts, walnuts, pineapples, olives,
dates, plums, cherries, wild honey, and the like;
and make use of them. Then consider what victual
or esculent things there are, which grow speedily,
and within the year; as parsnips, carrots, turnips,
onions, radish, artichokes of Hierusalem, maize,
and the like. For wheat, barley, and oats, they ask
too much labor; but with pease and beans you may
begin, both because they ask less labor, and be-
cause they serve for meat, as well as for bread. And
of rice, likewise cometh a great increase, and it is
a kind of meat. Above all, there ought to be brought
store of biscuit, oat-meal, flour, meal, and the like,
in the beginning, till bread may be had. For beasts,
or birds, take chiefly such as are least subject to
diseases, and multiply fastest; as swine, goats,
cocks, hens, turkeys, geese, house-doves, and the
like. The victual in plantations, ought to be ex-
pended almost as in a besieged town; that is, with
certain allowance. And let the main part of the
ground, employed to gardens or corn, be to a com-
mon stock; and to be laid in, and stored up, and
then delivered out in proportion; besides some
spots of ground, that any particular person will
manure for his own private. Consider likewise
what commodities, the soil where the plantation
is, doth naturally yield, that they may some way
help to defray the charge of the plantation (so it be
not, as was said, to the untimely prejudice of the
main business), as it hath fared with tobacco in
Virginia. Wood commonly aboundeth but too
much; and therefore timber is fit to be one. If there
be iron ore, and streams whereupon to set the mills,
iron is a brave commodity where wood aboundeth.
Making of bay-salt, if the climate be proper for it,
would be put in experience. Growing silk likewise,
if any be, is a likely commodity. Pitch and tar,
where store of firs and pines are, will not fail. So
drugs and sweet woods, where they are, cannot
but yield great profit. Soap-ashes likewise, and
other things that may be thought of. But moil not
too much under ground; for the hope of mines is
very uncertain, and useth to make the planters
lazy, in other things. For government; let it be in
the hands of one, assisted with some counsel; and
let them have commission to exercise martial laws,
with some limitation. And above all, let men make
that profit, of being in the wilderness, as they have
God always, and his service, before their eyes. Let
not the government of the plantation, depend
upon too many counsellors, and undertakers, in
the country that planteth, but upon a temperate
number; and let those be rather noblemen and
gentlemen, than merchants; for they look ever to
the present gain. Let there be freedom from cus-
tom, till the plantation be of strength; and not
only freedom from custom, but freedom to carry
their commodities, where they may make their
best of them, except there be some special cause of
caution. Cram not in people, by sending too fast
company after company; but rather harken how
they waste, and send supplies proportionably; but
so, as the number may live well in the plantation,
and not by surcharge be in penury. It hath been a
great endangering to the health of some planta-
tions, that they have built along the sea and rivers,
in marish and unwholesome grounds. Therefore,
though you begin there, to avoid carriage and
like discommodities, yet build still rather upwards
from the streams, than along. It concerneth like-
wise the health of the plantation, that they have
good store of salt with them, that they may use it
in their victuals, when it shall be necessary. If you
plant where savages are, do not only entertain
them, with trifles and gingles, but use them justly
and graciously, with sufficient guard nevertheless;
and do not win their favor, by helping them to in-
vade their enemies, but for their defence it is not
amiss; and send oft of them, over to the country
that plants, that they may see a better condition
than their own, and commend it when they re-
turn. When the plantation grows to strength, then
it is time to plant with women, as well as with
men; that the plantation may spread into genera-
tions, and not be ever pieced from without. It is the
sinfullest thing in the world, to forsake or destitute
a plantation once in forwardness; for besides the
dishonor, it is the guiltiness of blood of many com-
miserable persons.

Of Riches

I CANNOT call riches better than the baggage
of virtue. The Roman word is better, impedi-
menta. For as the baggage is to an army, so is riches
to virtue. It cannot be spared, nor left behind, but
it hindereth the march; yea, and the care of it,
sometimes loseth or disturbeth the victory. Of
great riches there is no real use, except it be in the
distribution; the rest is but conceit. So saith Solo-
mon, Where much is, there are many to consume
it; and what hath the owner, but the sight of it
with his eyes? The personal fruition in any man,
cannot reach to feel great riches: there is a custody
of them; or a power of dole, and donative of them;
or a fame of them; but no solid use to the owner.
Do you not see what feigned prices, are set upon
little stones and rarities? and what works of osten-
tation are undertaken, because there might seem
to be some use of great riches? But then you will
say, they may be of use, to buy men out of dangers
or troubles. As Solomon saith, Riches are as a
strong hold, in the imagination of the rich man.
But this is excellently expressed, that it is in imagi-
nation, and not always in fact. For certainly great
riches, have sold more men, than they have bought
out. Seek not proud riches, but such as thou mayest
get justly, use soberly, distribute cheerfully, and
leave contentedly. Yet have no abstract nor friarly
contempt of them. But distinguish, as Cicero saith
well of Rabirius Posthumus, In studio rei ampli-
ficandae apparebat, non avaritiae praedam, sed
instrumentum bonitati quaeri. Harken also to
Solomon, and beware of hasty gathering of riches;
Qui festinat ad divitias, non erit insons. The poets
feign, that when Plutus (which is Riches) is sent
from Jupiter, he limps and goes slowly; but when
he is sent from Pluto, he runs, and is swift of foot.
Meaning that riches gotten by good means, and
just labor, pace slowly; but when they come by
the death of others (as by the course of inheritance,
testaments, and the like), they come tumbling
upon a man. But it mought be applied likewise to
Pluto, taking him for the devil. For when riches
come from the devil (as by fraud and oppression,
and unjust means), they come upon speed. The
ways to enrich are many, and most of them foul.
Parsimony is one of the best, and yet is not inno-
cent; for it withholdeth men from works of liberal-
ity and charity. The improvement of the ground,
is the most natural obtaining of riches; for it is our
great mother's blessing, the earth's; but it is slow.
And yet where men of great wealth do stoop to
husbandry, it multiplieth riches exceedingly. I
knew a nobleman in England, that had the great-
est audits of any man in my time; a great grazier,
a great sheep-master, a great timber man, a great
collier, a great corn-master, a great lead-man, and
so of iron, and a number of the like points of hus-
bandry. So as the earth seemed a sea to him, in
respect of the perpetual importation. It was truly
observed by one, that himself came very hardly,
to a little riches, and very easily, to great riches.
For when a man's stock is come to that, that he can
expect the prime of markets, and overcome those
bargains, which for their greatness are few men's
money, and be partner in the industries of younger
men, he cannot but increase mainly. The gains of
ordinary trades and vocations are honest; and
furthered by two things chiefly: by diligence, and
by a good name, for good and fair dealing. But the
gains of bargains, are of a more doubtful nature;
when men shall wait upon others' necessity, broke
by servants and instruments to draw them on, put
off others cunningly, that would be better chap-
men, and the like practices, which are crafty and
naught. As for the chopping of bargains, when a
man buys not to hold but to sell over again, that
commonly grindeth double, both upon the seller,
and upon the buyer. Sharings do greatly enrich,
if the hands be well chosen, that are trusted. Usury
is the certainest means of gain, though one of the
worst; as that whereby a man doth eat his bread,
in sudore vultus alieni; and besides, doth plough
upon Sundays. But yet certain though it be, it hath
flaws; for that the scriveners and brokers do value
unsound men, to serve their own turn. The fortune
in being the first, in an invention or in a privilege,
doth cause sometimes a wonderful overgrowth in
riches; as it was with the first sugar man, in the
Canaries. Therefore if a man can play the true
logician, to have as well judgment, as invention,
he may do great matters; especially if the times be
fit. He that resteth upon gains certain, shall hardly
grow to great riches; and he that puts all upon
adventures, doth oftentimes break and come to
poverty: it is good, therefore, to guard adventures
with certainties, that may uphold losses. Monopo-
lies, and coemption of wares for re-sale, where
they are not restrained, are great means to enrich;
especially if the party have intelligence, what
things are like to come into request, and so store
himself beforehand. Riches gotten by service,
though it be of the best rise, yet when they are
gotten by flattery, feeding humors, and other serv-
ile conditions, they may be placed amongst the
worst. As for fishing for testaments and executor-
ships (as Tacitus saith of Seneca, testamenta et
orbos tamquam indagine capi), it is yet worse; by
how much men submit themselves to meaner per-
sons, than in service. Believe not much, them that
seem to despise riches; for they despise them, that
despair of them; and none worse, when they come
to them. Be not penny-wise; riches have wings,
and sometimes they fly away of themselves, some-
times they must be set flying, to bring in more.
Men leave their riches, either to their kindred, or
to the public; and moderate portions, prosper best
in both. A great state left to an heir, is as a lure to
all the birds of prey round about, to seize on him, if
he be not the better stablished in years and judg-
ment. Likewise glorious gifts and foundations, are
like sacrifices without salt; and but the painted
sepulchres of alms, which soon will putrefy, and
corrupt inwardly. Therefore measure not thine
advancements, by quantity, but frame them by
measure: and defer not charities till death; for,
certainly, if a man weigh it rightly, he that doth
so, is rather liberal of another man's, than of his

Of Prophecies

I MEAN not to speak of divine prophecies; nor
of heathen oracles; nor of natural predictions;
but only of prophecies that have been of cer-
tain memory, and from hidden causes. Saith the
Pythonissa to Saul, To-morrow thou and thy son
shall be with me. Homer hath these verses:

At domus AEneae cunctis dominabitur oris,
Et nati natorum, et qui nascentur ab illis.

A prophecy, as it seems, of the Roman empire.
Seneca the tragedian hath these verses:

--Venient annis
Saecula seris, quibus Oceanus
Vincula rerum laxet, et ingens
Pateat Tellus, Tiphysque novos
Detegat orbes; nec sit terris
Ultima Thule:

a prophecy of the discovery of America. The daugh-
ter of Polycrates, dreamed that Jupiter bathed her
father, and Apollo anointed him; and it came to
pass, that he was crucified in an open place, where
the sun made his body run with sweat, and the
rain washed it. Philip of Macedon dreamed, he
sealed up bis wife's belly; whereby he did expound
it, that his wife should be barren; but Aristander
the soothsayer, told him his wife was with child,
because men do not use to seal vessels, that are
empty. A phantasm that appeared to M. Brutus, in
his tent, said to him, Philippis iterum me videbis.
Tiberius said to Galba, Tu quoque, Galba, degusta-
bis imperium. In Vespasian's time, there went a
prophecy in the East, that those that should come
forth of Judea, should reign over the world:
which though it may be was meant of our Savior;
yet Tacitus expounds it of Vespasian. Domitian
dreamed, the night before he was slain, that a
golden head was growing, out of the nape of his
neck: and indeed, the succession that followed him
for many years, made golden times. Henry the
Sixth of England, said of Henry the Seventh, when
he was a lad, and gave him water, This is the lad
that shall enjoy the crown, for which we strive.
When I was in France, I heard from one Dr. Pena,
that the Queen Mother, who was given to curious
arts, caused the King her husband's nativity to be
calculated, under a false name; and the astrologer
gave a judgment, that he should be killed in a duel;
at which the Queen laughed, thinking her hus-
band to be above challenges and duels: but he was
slain upon a course at tilt, the splinters of the staff
of Montgomery going in at his beaver. The trivial
prophecy, which I heard when I was a child, and
Queen Elizabeth was in the flower of her years,

When hempe is spun

England's done:

whereby it was generally conceived, that after the
princes had reigned, which had the principal
letters of that word hempe (which were Henry,
Edward, Mary, Philip, and Elizabeth), England
should come to utter confusion; which, thanks be
to God, is verified only in the change of the name;
for that the King's style, is now no more of Eng-
land but of Britain. There was also another proph-
ecy, before the year of '88, which I do not well

There shall be seen upon a day,
Between the Baugh and the May,
The black fleet of Norway.
When that that is come and gone,
England build houses of lime and stone,
For after wars shall you have none.

It was generally conceived to be meant, of the
Spanish fleet that came in '88: for that the king of
Spain's surname, as they say, is Norway. The pre-
diction of Regiomontanus,

Octogesimus octavus mirabilis annus,

was thought likewise accomplished in the sending
of that great fleet, being the greatest in strength,
though not in number, of all that ever swam upon
the sea. As for Cleon's dream, I think it was a jest.
It was, that he was devoured of a long dragon; and
it was expounded of a maker of sausages, that
troubled him exceedingly. There are numbers of
the like kind; especially if you include dreams, and
predictions of astrology. But I have set down these
few only, of certain credit, for example. My judg-
ment is, that they ought all to be despised; and
ought to serve but for winter talk by the fireside.
Though when I say despised, I mean it as for be-
lief; for otherwise, the spreading, or publishing,
of them, is in no sort to be despised. For they have
done much mischief; and I see many severe laws
made, to suppress them. That that hath given them
grace, and some credit, consisteth in three things.
First, that men mark when they hit, and never
mark when they miss; as they do generally also of
dreams. The second is, that probable conjectures,
or obscure traditions, many times turn themselves
into prophecies; while the nature of man, which
coveteth divination, thinks it no peril to foretell
that which indeed they do but collect. As that of
Seneca's verse. For so much was then subject to
demonstration, that the globe of the earth had
great parts beyond the Atlantic, which mought
be probably conceived not to be all sea: and adding
thereto the tradition in Plato's Timaeus, and his
Atlanticus, it mought encourage one to turn it to
a prediction. The third and last (which is the great
one) is, that almost all of them, being infinite in
number, have been impostures, and by idle and
crafty brains merely contrived and feigned, after
the event past.

Of Ambition

AMBITION is like choler; which is an humor
that maketh men active, earnest, full of alac-
rity, and stirring, if it be not stopped. But if it be
stopped, and cannot have his way, it becometh
adust, and thereby malign and venomous. So am-
bitious men, if they find the way open for their
rising, and still get forward, they are rather busy
than dangerous; but if they be checked in their
desires, they become secretly discontent, and look
upon men and matters with an evil eye, and are
best pleased, when things go backward; which is
the worst property in a servant of a prince, or state.
Therefore it is good for princes, if they use ambi-
tious men, to handle it, so as they be still progres-
sive and not retrograde; which, because it cannot
be without inconvenience, it is good not to use such
natures at all. For if they rise not with their service,
they will take order, to make their service fall with
them. But since we have said, it were good not to
use men of ambitious natures, except it be upon
necessity, it is fit we speak, in what cases they are
of necessity. Good commanders in the wars must
be taken, be they never so ambitious; for the use
of their service, dispenseth with the rest; and to
take a soldier without ambition, is to pull off his
spurs. There is also great use of ambitious men, in
being screens to princes in matters of danger and
envy; for no man will take that part, except he be
like a seeled dove, that mounts and mounts, be-
cause he cannot see about him. There is use also of
ambitious men, in pulling down the greatness of
any subject that overtops; as Tiberius used Marco,
in the pulling down of Sejanus. Since, therefore,
they must be used in such cases, there resteth to
speak, how they are to be bridled, that they may be
less dangerous. There is less danger of them, if they
be of mean birth, than if they be noble; and if they
be rather harsh of nature, than gracious and popu-
lar: and if they be rather new raised, than grown
cunning, and fortified, in their greatness. It is
counted by some, a weakness in princes, to have
favorites; but it is, of all others, the best remedy
against ambitious great-ones. For when the way
of pleasuring, and displeasuring, lieth by the
favorite, it is impossible any other should be over-
great. Another means to curb them, is to balance
them by others, as proud as they. But then there
must be some middle counsellors, to keep things
steady; for without that ballast, the ship will roll
too much. At the least, a prince may animate
and inure some meaner persons, to be as it were
scourges, to ambitions men. As for the having of
them obnoxious to ruin; if they be of fearful
natures, it may do well; but if they be stout and
daring, it may precipitate their designs, and prove
dangerous. As for the pulling of them down, if the
affairs require it, and that it may not be done with
safety suddenly, the only way is the interchange,
continually, of favors and disgraces; whereby
they may not know what to expect, and be, as it
were, in a wood. Of ambitions, it is less harmful,
the ambition to prevail in great things, than that
other, to appear in every thing; for that breeds
confusion, and mars business. But yet it is less dan-
ger, to have an ambitious man stirring in business,
than great in dependences. He that seeketh to be
eminent amongst able men, hath a great task; but
that is ever good for the public. But he, that plots
to be the only figure amongst ciphers, is the decay
of a whole age. Honor hath three things in it: the
vantage ground to do good; the approach to kings
and principal persons; and the raising of a man's
own fortunes. He that hath the best of these inten-
tions, when he aspireth, is an honest man; and that
prince, that can discern of these intentions in an-
other that aspireth, is a wise prince. Generally, let
princes and states choose such ministers, as are
more sensible of duty than of using; and such as
love business rather upon conscience, than upon
bravery, and let them discern a busy nature, from
a willing mind.

Of Masques


THESE things are but toys, to come amongst
such serious observations. But yet, since
princes will have such things, it is better they
should be graced with elegancy, than daubed with
cost. Dancing to song, is a thing of great state and
pleasure. I understand it, that the song be in quire,
placed aloft, and accompanied with some broken
music; and the ditty fitted to the device. Acting in
song, especially in dialogues, hath an extreme
good grace; I say acting, not dancing (for that is a
mean and vulgar thing); and the voices of the dia-
logue would be strong and manly (a base and a
tenor; no treble); and the ditty high and tragical;
not nice or dainty. Several quires, placed one over
against another, and taking the voice by catches,
anthem-wise, give great pleasure. Turning dances
into figure, is a childish curiosity. And generally
let it be noted, that those things which I here set
down, are such as do naturally take the sense, and
not respect petty wonderments. It is true, the al-
terations of scenes, so it be quietly and without
noise, are things of great beauty and pleasure; for
they feed and relieve the eye, before it be full of
the same object. Let the scenes abound with light,
specially colored and varied; and let the masquers,
or any other, that are to come down from the
scene, have some motions upon the scene itself,
before their coming down; for it draws the eye
strangely, and makes it, with great pleasure, to
desire to see, that it cannot perfectly discern. Let
the songs be loud and cheerful, and not chirpings
or pulings. Let the music likewise be sharp and
loud, and well placed. The colors that show best by
candle-light are white, carnation, and a kind of
sea-water-green; and oes, or spangs, as they are of
no great cost, so they are of most glory. As for rich
embroidery, it is lost and not discerned. Let the
suits of the masquers be graceful, and such as be-
come the person, when the vizors are off; not after
examples of known attires; Turke, soldiers, mari-
ners', and the like. Let anti-masques not be long;
they have been commonly of fools, satyrs, baboons,
wild-men, antics, beasts, sprites, witches, Ethiops,
pigmies, turquets, nymphs, rustics, Cupids, statuas
moving, and the like. As for angels, it is not comi-
cal enough, to put them in anti-masques; and
anything that is hideous, as devils, giants, is on
the other side as unfit. But chiefly, let the music
of them be recreative, and with some strange
changes. Some sweet odors suddenly coming forth,
without any drops falling, are, in such a company
as there is steam and heat, things of great pleasure
and refreshment. Double masques, one of men,
another of ladies, addeth state and variety. But all
is nothing except the room be kept clear and neat.

For justs, and tourneys, and barriers; the glories
of them are chiefly in the chariots, wherein the
challengers make their entry; especially if they
be drawn with strange beasts: as lions, bears,
camels, and the like; or in the devices of their en-
trance; or in the bravery of their liveries; or in the
goodly furniture of their horses and armor. But
enough of these toys.

Of Nature


NATURE is often hidden; sometimes over-
come; seldom extinguished. Force, maketh
nature more violent in the return; doctrine and dis-
course, maketh nature less importune; but custom
only doth alter and subdue nature. He that seeketh
victory over his nature, let him not set himself too
great, nor too small tasks; for the first will make
him dejected by often failings; and the second will
make him a small proceeder, though by often pre-
vailings. And at the first let him practise with
helps, as swimmers do with bladders or rushes;
but after a time let him practise with disadvan-
tages, as dancers do with thick shoes. For it breeds
great perfection, if the practice be harder than the
use. Where nature is mighty, and therefore the
victory hard, the degrees had need be, first to stay
and arrest nature in time; like to him that would
say over the four and twenty letters when he was
angry; then to go less in quantity; as if one should,
in forbearing wine, come from drinking healths,
to a draught at a meal; and lastly, to discontinue
altogether. But if a man have the fortitude, and
resolution, to enfranchise himself at once, that is
the best:

Optimus ille animi vindex laedentia pectus
Vincula qui rupit, dedoluitque semel.

Neither is the ancient rule amiss, to bend nature,
as a wand, to a contrary extreme, whereby to set it
right, understanding it, where the contrary ex-
treme is no vice. Let not a man force a habit upon
himself, with a perpetual continuance, but with
some intermission. For both the pause reinforceth
the new onset; and if a man that is not perfect, be
ever in practice, he shall as well practise his errors,
as his abilities, and induce one habit of both; and
there is no means to help this, but by seasonable
intermissions. But let not a man trust his victory
over his nature, too far; for nature will lay buried
a great time, and yet revive, upon the occasion or
temptation. Like as it was with AEsop's damsel,
turned from a cat to a woman, who sat very de-
mutely at the board's end, till a mouse ran before
her. Therefore, let a man either avoid the occasion
altogether; or put himself often to it, that he may
be little moved with it. A man's nature is best per-
ceived in privateness, for there is no affectation;
in passion, for that putteth a man out of his pre-
cepts; and in a new case or experiment, for there
custom leaveth him. They are happy men, whose
natures sort with their vocations; otherwise they
may say, multum incola fuit anima mea; when
they converse in those things, they do not affect.
In studies, whatsoever a man commandeth upon
himself, let him set hours for it; but whatsoever is
agreeable to his nature, let him take no care for
any set times; for his thoughts will fly to it, of
themselves; so as the spaces of other business, or
studies, will suffice. A man's nature, runs either to
herbs or weeds; therefore let him seasonably water
the one, and destroy the other.

Of Custom


MEN'S thoughts, are much according to their
inclination; their discourse and speeches,
according to their learning and infused opinions;
but their deeds, are after as they have been accus-
tomed. And therefore, as Machiavel well noteth
(though in an evil-favored instance), there is no
trusting to the force of nature, nor to the bravery
of words, except it be corroborate by custom. His
instance is, that for the achieving of a desperate
conspiracy, a man should not rest upon the fierce-
ness of any man's nature, or his resolute under-
takings; but take such an one, as hath had his
hands formerly in blood. But Machiavel knew not
of a Friar Clement, nor a Ravillac, nor a Jaureguy,
nor a Baltazar Gerard; yet his rule holdeth still,
that nature, nor the engagement of words, are not
so forcible, as custom. Only superstition is now so
well advanced, that men of the first blood, are as
firm as butchers by occupation; and votary reso-
lution, is made equipollent to custom, even in mat-
ter of blood. In other things, the predominancy of
custom is everywhere visible; insomuch as a man
would wonder, to hear men profess, protest, en-
gage, give great words, and then do, just as they
have done before; as if they were dead images,
and engines moved only by the wheels of custom.
We see also the reign or tyranny of custom, what
it is. The Indians (I mean the sect of their wise men)
lay themselves quietly upon a stock of wood, and
so sacrifice themselves by fire. Nay, the wives
strive to be burned, with the corpses of their hus-
bands. The lads of Sparta, of ancient time, were
wont to be scourged upon the altar of Diana, with-
out so much as queching. I remember, in the be-
ginning of Queen Elizabeth's time of England, an
Irish rebel condemned, put up a petition to the
deputy, that he might be hanged in a withe, and
not in an halter; because it had been so used, with
former rebels. There be monks in Russia, for pen-
ance, that will sit a whole night in a vessel of water,
till they be engaged with hard ice. Many examples
may be put of the force of custom, both upon mind
and body. Therefore, since custom is the principal
magistrate of man's life, let men by all means en-
deavor, to obtain good customs. Certainly custom
is most perfect, when it beginneth in young years:
this we call education; which is, in effect, but an
early custom. So we see, in languages, the tongue
is more pliant to all expressions and sounds, the
joints are more supple, to all feats of activity and
motions, in youth than afterwards. For it is true,
that late learners cannot so well take the ply; ex-
cept it be in some minds, that have not suffered
themselves to fix, but have kept themselves open,
and prepared to receive continual amendment,
which is exceeding rare. But if the force of cus-
tom simple and separate, be great, the force of
custom copulate and conjoined and collegiate, is
far greater. For there example teacheth, company
comforteth, emulation quickeneth, glory raiseth:
so as in such places the force of custom is in his
exaltation. Certainly the great multiplication of
virtues upon human nature, resteth upon socie-
ties well ordained and disciplined. For common-
wealths, and good governments, do nourish virtue
grown but do not much mend the deeds. But the
misery is, that the most effectual means, are now
applied to the ends, least to be desired.

Of Fortune

IT CANNOT be denied, but outward accidents
conduce much to fortune; favor, opportunity,
death of others, occasion fitting virtue. But chiefly,
the mould of a man's fortune is in his own hands.
Faber quisque fortunae suae, saith the poet. And
the most frequent of external causes is, that the
folly of one man, is the fortune of another. For no
man prospers so suddenly, as by others' errors.
Serpens nisi serpentem comederit non fit draco.
Overt and apparent virtues, bring forth praise; but
there be secret and hidden virtues, that bring forth
fortune; certain deliveries of a man's self, which
have no name. The Spanish name, desemboltura,
partly expresseth them; when there be not stonds
nor restiveness in a man's nature; but that the
wheels of his mind, keep way with the wheels of
his fortune. For so Livy (after he had described
Cato Major in these words, In illo viro tantum ro-
bur corporis et animi fuit, ut quocunque loco natus
esset, fortunam sibi facturus videretur) falleth
upon that, that he had versatile ingenium. There-
fore if a man look sharply and attentively, he shall
see Fortune: for though she be blind, yet she is not
invisible. The way of fortune, is like the Milken
Way in the sky; which is a meeting or knot of a
number of small stars; not seen asunder, but giv-
ing light together. So are there a number of
little, and scarce discerned virtues, or rather facul-
ties and customs, that make men fortunate. The
Italians note some of them, such as a man would
little think. When they speak of one that cannot do
amiss, they will throw in, into his other conditions,
that he hath Poco di matto. And certainly there be
not two more fortunate properties, than to have a
little of the fool, and not too much of the honest.
Therefore extreme lovers of their country or
masters, were never fortunate, neither can they
be. For when a man placeth his thoughts without
himself, he goeth not his own way. An hasty for-
tune maketh an enterpriser and remover (the
French hath it better, entreprenant, or remuant);
but the exercised fortune maketh the able man.
Fortune is to be honored and respected, and it be
but for her daughters, Confidence and Reputation.
For those two, Felicity breedeth; the first within
a man's self, the latter in others towards him. All
wise men, to decline the envy of their own virtues,
use to ascribe them to Providence and Fortune; for
so they may the better assume them: and, besides,
it is greatness in a man, to be the care of the higher
powers. So Caesar said to the pilot in the tempest,
Caesarem portas, et fortunam ejus. So Sylla chose
the name of Felix, and not of Magnus. And it hath
been noted, that those who ascribe openly too
much to their own wisdom and policy, end infor-
tunate. It is written that Timotheus the Athenian,
after he had, in the account he gave to the state of
his government, often interlaced this speech, and
in this, Fortune had no part, never prospered in
anything, he undertook afterwards. Certainly
there be, whose fortunes are like Homer's verses,
that have a slide and easiness more than the verses
of other poets; as Plutarch saith of Timoleon's for-
tune, in respect of that of Agesilaus or Epaminon-
das. And that this shoulld be, no doubt it is much,
in a man's self.

Of Usury

MANY have made witty invectives against
usury. They say that it is a pity, the devil
should have God's part, which is the tithe. That the
usurer is the greatest Sabbath-breaker, because his
plough goeth every Sunday. That the usurer is the
drone, that Virgil speaketh of;

Ignavum fucos pecus a praesepibus arcent.

That the usurer breaketh the first law, that was
made for mankind after the fall, which was, in
sudore vultus tui comedes panem tuum; not, in
sudore vultus alieni. That usurers should have
orange-tawny bonnets, because they do judaize.
That it is against nature for money to beget money;
and the like. I say this only, that usury is a conces-
sum propter duritiem cordis; for since there must
be borrowing and lending, and men are so hard
of heart, as they will not lend freely, usury must
be permitted. Some others, have made suspicious
and cunning propositions of banks, discovery of
men's estates, and other inventions. But few have
spoken of usury usefully. It is good to set before us,
the incommodities and commodities of usury, that
the good, may be either weighed out or culled out;
and warily to provide, that while we make forth
to that which is better, we meet not with that
which is worse.

The discommodities of usury are, First, that it
makes fewer merchants. For were it not for this
lazy trade of usury, money would not he still, but
would in great part be employed upon merchan-
dizing; which is the vena porta of wealth in a state.
The second, that it makes poor merchants. For, as
a farmer cannot husband his ground so well, if he
sit at a great rent; so the merchant cannot drive
his trade so well, if he sit at great usury. The third
is incident to the other two; and that is the decay of
customs of kings or states, which ebb or flow, with
merchandizing. The fourth, that it bringeth the
treasure of a realm, or state, into a few hands. For
the usurer being at certainties, and others at uncer-
tainties, at the end of the game, most of the money
will be in the box; and ever a state flourisheth,
when wealth is more equally spread. The fifth,
that it beats down the price of land; for the em-
ployment of money, is chiefly either merchandiz-
ing or purchasing; and usury waylays both. The
sixth, that it doth dull and damp all industries, im-
provements, and new inventions, wherein money
would be stirring, if it were not for this slug. The
last, that it is the canker and ruin of many men's
estates; which, in process of time, breeds a public

On the other side, the commodities of usury are,
first, that howsoever usury in some respect hinder-
eth merchandizing, yet in some other it advanceth
it; for it is certain that the greatest part of trade is
driven by young merchants, upon borrowing at
interest; so as if the usurer either call in, or keep
back, his money, there will ensue, presently, a
great stand of trade. The second is, that were it not
for this easy borrowing upon interest, men's neces-
sities would draw upon them a most sudden un-
doing; in that they would be forced to sell their
means (be it lands or goods) far under foot; and so,
whereas usury doth but gnaw upon them, bad
markets would swallow them quite up. As for
mortgaging or pawning, it will little mend the
matter: for either men will not take pawns with-
out use; or if they do, they will look precisely for
the forfeiture. I remember a cruel moneyed man
in the country, that would say, The devil take this
usury, it keeps us from forfeitures, of mortgages
and bonds. The third and last is, that it is a vanity
to conceive, that there would be ordinary borrow-
ing without profit; and it is impossible to conceive,
the number of inconveniences that will ensue, if
borrowing be cramped. Therefore to speak of the
abolishing of usury is idle. All states have ever had
it, in one kind or rate, or other. So as that opinion
must be sent to Utopia.

To speak now of the reformation, and reigle-
ment, of usury; how the discommodities of it may
be best avoided, and the commodities retained. It
appears, by the balance of commodities and dis-
commodities of usury, two things are to be recon-
ciled. The one, that the tooth of usury be grinded,
that it bite not too much; the other, that there be
left open a means, to invite moneyed men to lend
to the merchants, for the continuing and quicken-
ing of trade. This cannot be done, except you intro-
duce two several sorts of usury, a less and a greater.
For if you reduce usury to one low rate, it will ease
the common borrower, but the merchant will be
to seek for money. And it is to be noted, that the
trade of merchandize, being the most lucrative,
may bear usury at a good rate; other contracts
not so.

To serve both intentions, the way would be
briefly thus. That there be two rates of usury:
the one free, and general for all; the other under
license only, to certain persons, and in certain
places of merchandizing. First, therefore, let usury
in general, be reduced to five in the hundred; and
let that rate be proclaimed, to be free and current;
and let the state shut itself out, to take any penalty
for the same. This will preserve borrowing, from
any general stop or dryness. This will ease infinite
borrowers in the country. This will, in good part,
raise the price of land, because land purchased
at sixteen years' purchase will yield six in the
hundred, and somewhat more; whereas this rate
of interest, yields but five. This by like reason
will encourage, and edge, industrious and profit-
able improvements; because many will rather
venture in that kind, than take five in the hun-
dred, especially having been used to greater profit.
Secondly, let there be certain persons licensed,
to lend to known merchants, upon usury at a
higher rate; and let it be with the cautions fol-
lowing. Let the rate be, even with the merchant
himself, somewhat more easy than that he used
formerly to pay; for by that means, all bor-
rowers, shall have some ease by this reformation,
be he merchant, or whosoever. Let it be no
bank or common stock, but every man be master
of his own money. Not that I altogether mis-
like banks, but they will hardly be brooked, in
regard of certain suspicions. Let the state be
answered some small matter for the license, and
the rest left to the lender; for if the abatement be
but small, it will no whit discourage the lender.
For he, for example, that took before ten or nine in
the hundred, will sooner descend to eight in the
hundred than give over his trade of usury, and go
from certain gains, to gains of hazard. Let these
licensed lenders be in number indefinite, but re-
strained to certain principal cities and towns of
merchandizing; for then they will be hardly able
to color other men's moneys in the country: so as
the license of nine will not suck away the current
rate of five; for no man will send his moneys far
off, nor put them into unknown hands.

If it be objected that this doth in a sort authorize
usury, which before, was in some places but per-
missive; the answer is, that it is better to mitigate
usury, by declaration, than to suffer it to rage, by

Of Youth


A MAN that is young in years, may be old in
hours, if he have lost no time. But that hap-
peneth rarely. Generally, youth is like the first
cogitations, not so wise as the second. For there is
a youth in thoughts, as well as in ages. And yet the
invention of young men, is more lively than that
of old; and imaginations stream into their minds
better, and, as it were, more divinely. Natures that
have much heat, and great and violent desires and
perturbations, are not ripe for action, till they have
passed the meridian of their years; as it was with
Julius Caesar and Septimius Severus. Of the latter,
of whom it is said, Juventutem egit erroribus, imo
furoribus, plenam. And yet he was the ablest em-
peror, almost, of all the list. But reposed natures
may do well in youth. As it is seen in Augustus
Caesar, Cosmus Duke of Florence, Gaston de Foix,
and others. On the other side, heat and vivacity in
age, is an excellent composition for business.
Young men are fitter to invent, than to judge; fitter
for execution, than for counsel; and fitter for new
projects, than for settled business. For the experi-
ence of age, in things that fall within the compass
of it, directeth them; but in new things, abuseth

The errors of young men, are the ruin of busi-
ness; but the errors of aged men, amount but to
this, that more might have been done, or sooner.
Young men, in the conduct and manage of actions,
embrace more than they can hold; stir more than
they can quiet; fly to the end, without considera-
tion of the means and degrees; pursue some
few principles, which they have chanced upon
absurdly; care not to innovate, which draws un-
known inconveniences; use extreme remedies at
first; and, that which doubleth all errors, will not
acknowledge or retract them; like an unready
horse, that will neither stop nor turn. Men of age
object too much, consult too long, adventure too
little, repent too soon, and seldom drive business
home to the full period, but content themselves
with a mediocrity of success. Certainly it is good to
compound employments of both; for that will be
good for the present, because the virtues of either
age, may correct the defects of both; and good for
succession, that young men may be learners, while
men in age are actors; and, lastly, good for extern
accidents, because authority followeth old men,
and favor and popularity, youth. But for the moral
part, perhaps youth will have the pre-eminence, as
age hath for the politic. A certain rabbin, upon the
text, Your young men shall see visions, and your
old men shall dream dreams, inferreth that young
men, are admitted nearer to God than old, because
vision, is a clearer revelation, than a dream. And
certainly, the more a man drinketh of the world,
the more it intoxicateth; and age doth profit rather
in the powers of understanding, than in the virtues
of the will and affections. There be some, have an
over-early ripeness in their years, which fadeth
betimes. These are, first, such as have brittle wits,
the edge whereof is soon turned; such as was Her-
mogenes the rhetorician, whose books are exceed-
ing subtle; who afterwards waxed stupid. A second
sort, is of those that have some natural dispositions
which have better grace in youth, than in age;
such as is a fluent and luxuriant speech; which
becomes youth well, but not age: so Tully saith of
Hortensius, Idem manebat, neque idem decebat.
The third is of such, as take too high a strain at the
first, and are magnanimous, more than tract of
years can uphold. As was Scipio Africanus, of
whom Livy saith in effect, Ultima primis cedebant.

Of Beauty

VIRTUE is like a rich stone, best plain set; and
surely virtue is best, in a body that is comely,
though not of delicate features; and that hath
rather dignity of presence, than beauty of aspect.
Neither is it almost seen, that very beautiful per-
sons are otherwise of great virtue; as if nature were
rather busy, not to err, than in labor to produce
excellency. And therefore they prove accom-
plished, but not of great spirit; and study rather
behavior, than virtue. But this holds not always:
for Augustus Caesar, Titus Vespasianus, Philip le
Belle of France, Edward the Fourth of England,
Alcibiades of Athens, Ismael the Sophy of Persia,
were all high and great spirits; and yet the most
beautiful men of their times. In beauty, that of
favor, is more than that of color; and that of decent
and gracious motion, more than that of favor. That
is the best part of beauty, which a picture cannot
express; no, nor the first sight of the life. There is no
excellent beauty, that hath not some strangeness
in the proportion. A man cannot tell whether
Apelles, or Albert Durer, were the more trifler;
whereof the one, would make a personage by geo-
metrical proportions; the other, by taking the best
parts out of divers faces, to make one excellent.
Such personages, I think, would please nobody,
but the painter that made them. Not but I think a
painter may make a better face than ever was; but
he must do it by a kind of felicity (as a musician
that maketh an excellent air in music), and not by
rule. A man shall see faces, that if you examine
them part by part, you shall find never a good;
and yet altogether do well. If it be true that the
principal part of beauty is in decent motion, cer-
tainly it is no marvel, though persons in years
seem many times more amiable; pulchrorum
autumnus pulcher; for no youth can be comely
but by pardon, and considering the youth, as to
make up the comeliness. Beauty is as summer
fruits,) which are easy to corrupt, and cannot last;
and for the most part it makes a dissolute youth,
and an age a little out of countenance; but yet cer-
tainly again, if it light well, it maketh virtue shine,
and vices blush.

Of Deformity

DEFORMED persons are commonly even with
nature; for as nature hath done ill by them,
so do they by nature; being for the most part (as
the Scripture saith) void of natural affection; and
so they have their revenge of nature. Certainly
there is a consent, between the body and the mind;
and where nature erreth in the one, she ventureth
in the other. Ubi peccat in uno, periclitatur in al-
tero. But because there is, in man, an election
touching the frame of his mind, and a necessity in
the frame of his body, the stars of natural inclina-
tion are sometimes obscured, by the sun of disci-
pline and virtue. Therefore it is good to consider of
deformity, not as a sign, which is more deceivable;
but as a cause, which seldom faileth of the effect.
Whosoever hath anything fixed in his person, that
doth induce contempt, hath also a perpetual spur
in himself, to rescue and deliver himself from
scorn. Therefore all deformed persons, are extreme
bold. First, as in their own defence, as being ex-
posed to scorn; but in process of time, by a general
habit. Also it stirreth in them industry, and espe-
cially of this kind, to watch and observe the weak-
ness of others, that they may have somewhat to
repay. Again, in their superiors, it quencheth
jealousy towards them, as persons that they think
they may, at pleasure, despise: and it layeth their
competitors and emulators asleep; as never believ-
ing they should be in possibility of advancement,
till they see them in possession. So that upon the
matter, in a great wit, deformity is an advantage
to rising. Kings in ancient times (and at this pres-
ent in some countries) were wont to put great trust
in eunuchs; because they that are envious towards
all are more obnoxious and officious, towards one.
But yet their trust towards them, hath rather
been as to good spials, and good wbisperers, than
good magistrates and officers. And much like is
the reason of deformed persons. Still the ground
is, they will, if they be of spirit, seek to free them-
selves from scorn; which must be either by virtue
or malice; and therefore let it not be marvelled, if
sometimes they prove excellent persons; as was
Agesilaus, Zanger the son of Solyman, AEsop,
Gasca, President of Peru; and Socrates may go
likewise amongst them; with others.

Of Building

HOUSES are built to live in, and not to look on;
therefore let use be preferred before uni-
formity, except where both may be had. Leave
the goodly fabrics of houses, for beauty only, to
the enchanted palaces of the poets; who build them
with small cost. He that builds a fair house, upon
an ill seat, committeth himself to prison. Neither
do I reckon it an ill seat, only where the air is un-
wholesome; but likewise where the air is unequal;
as you shall see many fine seats set upon a knap of
ground, environed with higher hills round about
it; whereby the heat of the sun is pent in, and the
wind gathereth as in troughs; so as you shall have,
and that suddenly, as great diversity of heat and
cold as if you dwelt in several places. Neither is it
ill air only that maketh an ill seat, but ill ways, ill
markets; and, if you will consult with Momus, ill
neighbors. I speak not of many more; want of
water; want of wood, shade, and shelter; want of
fruitfulness, and mixture of grounds of several
natures; want of prospect; want of level grounds;
want of places at some near distance for sports of
hunting, hawking, and races; too near the sea, too
remote; having the commodity of navigable rivers,
or the discommodity of their overflowing; too far
off from great cities, which may hinder business,
or too near them, which lurcheth all provisions,
and maketh everything dear; where a man hath
a great living laid together, and where he is
scanted: all which, as it is impossible perhaps to
find together, so it is good to know them, and think
of them, that a man may take as many as he can;
and if he have several dwellings, that he sort them
so that what he wanteth in the one, he may find in
the other. Lucullus answered Pompey well; who,
when he saw his stately galleries, and rooms so
large and lightsome, in one of his houses, said,
Surely an excellent place for summer, but how do
you in winter? Lucullus answered, Why, do you
not think me as wise as some fowl are, that ever
change their abode towards the winter?

To pass from the seat, to the house itself; we will
do as Cicero doth in the orator's art; who writes
books De Oratore, and a book he entitles Orator;
whereof the former, delivers the precepts of the
art, and the latter, the perfection. We will there-
fore describe a princely palace, making a brief
model thereof. For it is strange to see, now in
Europe, such huge buildings as the Vatican and
Escurial and some others be, and yet scarce a very
fair room in them.

First, therefore, I say you cannot have a perfect
palace except you have two several sides; a side for
the banquet, as it is spoken of in the book of Hester,
and a side for the household; the one for feasts and
triumphs, and the other for dwelling. I understand
both these sides to be not only returns, but parts
of the front; and to be uniform without, though
severally partitioned within; and to be on both
sides of a great and stately tower, in the midst of
the front, that, as it were, joineth them together
on either hand. I would have on the side of the ban-
quet, in front, one only goodly room above stairs,
of some forty foot high; and under it a room for a
dressing, or preparing place, at times of triumphs.
On the other side, which is the household side, I
wish it divided at the first, into a hall and a chapel
(with a partition between); both of good state and
bigness; and those not to go all the length, but to
have at the further end, a winter and a summer
parlor, both fair. And under these rooms, a fair
and large cellar, sunk under ground; and likewise
some privy kitchens, with butteries and pantries,
and the like. As for the tower, I would have it two
stories, of eighteen foot high apiece, above the two
wings; and a goodly leads upon the top,railed with
statuas interposed; and the same tower to be di-
vided into rooms, as shall be thought fit. The stairs
likewise to the upper rooms, let them be upon a
fair open newel, and finely railed in, with images
of wood, cast into a brass color; and a very fair
landing-place at the top. But this to be, if you do
not point any of the lower rooms, for a dining place
of servants. For otherwise, you shall have the ser-
vants' dinner after your own: for the steam of it,
will come up as in a tunnel. And so much for the
front. Only I understand the height of the first
stairs to be sixteen foot, which is the height of the
lower room.

Beyond this front, is there to be a fair court, but
three sides of it, of a far lower building than the
front. And in all the four corners of that court, fair
staircases, cast into turrets, on the outside, and not
within the row of buildings themselves. But those
towers, are not to be of the height of the front, but
rather proportionable to the lower building. Let
the court not be paved, for that striketh up a great
heat in summer, and much cold in winter. But
only some side alleys, with a cross, and the quar-
ters to graze, being kept shorn, but not too near
shorn. The row of return on the banquet side, let it
be all stately galleries: in which galleries let there
be three, or five, fine cupolas in the length of it,
placed at equal distance; and fine colored windows
of several works. On the household side, chambers
of presence and ordinary entertainments, with
some bed-chambers; and let all three sides be a
double house, without thorough lights on the sides,
that you may have rooms from the sun, both for
forenoon and afternoon. Cast it also, that you may
have rooms, both for summer and winter; shady
for summer, and warm for winter. You shall have
sometimes fair houses so full of glass, that one can-
not tell where to become, to be out of the sun or
cold. For inbowed windows, I hold them of good
use (in cities, indeed, upright do better, in respect
of the uniformity towards the street); for they be
pretty retiring places for conference; and besides,
they keep both the wind and sun off; for that
which would strike almost through the room, doth
scarce pass the window. But let them be but few,
four in the court, on the sides only.

Beyond this court, let there be an inward court,
of the same square and height; which is to be en-
vironed with the garden on all sides; and in the
inside, cloistered on all sides, upon decent and
beautiful arches, as high as the first story. On the
under story, towards the garden, let it be turned
to a grotto, or a place of shade, or estivation. And
only have opening and windows towards the gar-
den; and be level upon the floor, no whit sunken
under ground, to avoid all dampishness. And let
there be a fountain, or some fair work of statuas, in
the midst of this court; and to be paved as the other
court was. These buildings to be for privy lodgings
on both sides; and the end for privy galleries.
Whereof you must foresee that one of them be for
an infirmary, if the prince or any special person
should be sick, with chambers, bed-chamber, ante-
camera, and recamera joining to it. This upon the
second story. Upon the ground story, a fair gallery,
open, upon pillars; and upon the third story like-
wise, an open gallery, upon pillars, to take the
prospect and freshness of the garden. At both cor-
ners of the further side, by way of return, let there
be two delicate or rich cabinets, daintily paved,
richly hanged, glazed with crystalline glass, and
a rich cupola in the midst; and all other elegancy
that may be thought upon. In the upper gallery
too, I wish that there may be, if the place will yield
it, some fountains running in divers places from
the wall, with some fine avoidances. And thus
much for the model of the palace; save that you
must have, before you come to the front, three
courts. A green court plain, with a wall about it;
a second court of the same, but more garnished,
with little turrets, or rather embellishments, upon
the wall; and a third court, to make a square with
the front, but not to be built, nor yet enclosed with
a naked wall, but enclosed with terraces, leaded
aloft, and fairly garnished, on the three sides; and
cloistered on the inside, with pillars, and not with
arches below. As for offices, let them stand at dis-
tance, with some low galleries, to pass from them
to the palace itself.

Of Gardens

G0D Almighty first planted a garden. And
indeed it is the purest of human pleasures.
It is the greatest refreshment to the spirits of man;
without which, buildings and palaces are but
gross handiworks; and a man shall ever see, that
when ages grow to civility and elegancy, men
come to build stately sooner than to garden finely;
as if gardening were the greater perfection. I do
hold it, in the royal ordering of gardens, there
ought to be gardens, for all the months in the year;
in which severally things of beauty may be then
in season. For December, and January, and the
latter part of November, you must take such things
as are green all winter: holly; ivy; bays; juniper;
cypress-trees; yew; pine-apple-trees; fir-trees;
rosemary; lavender; periwinkle, the white, the
purple, and the blue; germander; flags; orange-
trees; lemon-trees; and myrtles, if they be stoved;
and sweet marjoram, warm set. There followeth,
for the latter part of January and February, the
mezereon-tree, which then blossoms; crocus ver-
nus, both the yellow and the grey; primroses,
anemones; the early tulippa; hyacinthus orien-
talis; chamairis; fritellaria. For March, there
come violets, specially the single blue, which are
the earliest; the yellow daffodil; the daisy; the
almond-tree in blossom; the peach-tree in blos-
som; the cornelian-tree in blossom; sweet-briar.
In April follow the double white violet; the wall-
flower; the stock-gilliflower; the cowslip; flower-
delices, and lilies of all natures; rosemary-flowers;
the tulippa; the double peony; the pale daffodil;
the French honeysuckle; the cherry-tree in blos-
som; the damson and plum-trees in blossom; the
white thorn in leaf; the lilac-tree. In May and
June come pinks of all sorts, specially the blush-
pink; roses of all kinds, except the musk, which
comes later; honeysuckles; strawberries; bugloss;
columbine; the French marigold, flos Africanus;
cherry-tree in fruit; ribes; figs in fruit; rasps; vine-
flowers; lavender in flowers; the sweet satyrian,
with the white flower; herba muscaria; lilium
convallium; the apple-tree in blossom. In July
come gilliflowers of all varieties; musk-roses; the
lime-tree in blossom; early pears and plums in
fruit; jennetings, codlins. In August come plums
of all sorts in fruit; pears; apricocks; berberries;
filberds; musk-melons; monks-hoods, of all colors.
In September come grapes; apples; poppies of
all colors; peaches; melocotones; nectarines; cor-
nelians; wardens; quinces. In October and the
beginning of November come services; medlars;
bullaces; roses cut or removed to come late; holly-
hocks; and such like. These particulars are for the
climate of London; but my meaning is perceived,
that you may have ver perpetuum, as the place

And because the breath of flowers is far sweeter
in the air (where it comes and goes like the warb-
ling of music) than in the hand, therefore nothing
is more fit for that delight, than to know what be
the flowers and plants that do best perfume the air.
Roses, damask and red, are fast flowers of their
smells; so that you may walk by a whole row of
them, and find nothing of their sweetness; yea
though it be in a morning's dew. Bays likewise
yield no smell as they grow. Rosemary little; nor
sweet marjoram. That which above all others
yields the sweetest smell in the air is the violet,
specially the white double violet, which comes
twice a year; about the middle of April, and about
Bartholomew-tide. Next to that is the musk-rose.
Then the strawberry-leaves dying, which yield a
most excellent cordial smell. Then the flower of
vines; it is a little dust, like the dust of a bent, which
grows upon the cluster in the first coming forth.
Then sweet-briar. Then wall-flowers, which are
very delightful to be set under a parlor or lower
chamber window. Then pinks and gilliflowers,
especially the matted pink and clove gilliflower.
Then the flowers of the lime-tree. Then the honey-
suckles, so they be somewhat afar off. Of bean-
flowers I speak not, because they are field flowers.
But those which perfume the air most delightfully,
not passed by as the rest, but being trodden upon
and crushed, are three; that is, burnet, wild-
thyme, and watermints. Therefore you are to set
whole alleys of them, to have the pleasure when
you walk or tread.

For gardens (speaking of those which are indeed
princelike, as we have done of buildings), the con-
tents ought not well to be under thirty acres of
ground; and to be divided into three parts; a green
in the entrance; a heath or desert in the going
forth; and the main garden in the midst; besides
alleys on both sides. And I like well that four acres
of ground be assigned to the green; six to the
heath; four and four to either side; and twelve to
the main garden. The green hath two pleasures:
the one, because nothing is more pleasant to the
eye than green grass kept finely shorn; the other,
because it will give you a fair alley in the midst, by
which you may go in front upon a stately hedge,
which is to enclose the garden. But because the
alley will be long, and, in great heat of the year or
day, you ought not to buy the shade in the garden,
by going in the sun through the green, therefore
you are, of either side the green, to plant a covert
alley upon carpenter's work, about twelve foot in
height, by which you may go in shade into the
garden. As for the making of knots or figures, with
divers colored earths, that they may lie under the
windows of the house on that side which the gar-
den stands, they be but toys; you may see as good
sights, many times, in tarts. The garden is best to
be square, encompassed on all the four sides with
a stately arched hedge. The arches to be upon pil-
lars of carpenter's work, of some ten foot high, and
six foot broad; and the spaces between of the same
dimension with the breadth of the arch. Over the
arches let there be an entire hedge of some four
foot high, framed also upon carpenter's work; and
upon the upper hedge, over every arch, a little tur-
ret, with a belly, enough to receive a cage of birds:
and over every space between the arches some
other little figure, with broad plates of round col-
ored glass gilt, for the sun to play upon. But this
hedge I intend to be raised upon a bank, not steep,
but gently slope, of some six foot, set all with
flowers. Also I understand, that this square of the
garden, should not be the whole breadth of the
ground, but to leave on either side, ground enough
for diversity of side alleys; unto which the two
covert alleys of the green, may deliver you. But
there must be no alleys with hedges, at either end
of this great enclosure; not at the hither end, for
letting your prospect upon this fair hedge from
the green; nor at the further end, for letting your
prospect from the hedge, through the arches upon
the heath.

For the ordering of the ground, within the great
hedge, I leave it to variety of device; advising
nevertheless, that whatsoever form you cast it into,
first, it be not too busy, or full of work. Wherein I,
for my part, do not like images cut out in juniper
or other garden stuff; they be for children. Little
low hedges, round, like welts, with some pretty
pyramids, I like well; and in some places, fair
columns upon frames of carpenter's work. I would
also have the alleys, spacious and fair. You may
have closer alleys, upon the side grounds, but none
in the main garden. I wish also, in the very middle,
a fair mount, with three ascents, and alleys,
enough for four to walk abreast; which I would
have to be perfect circles, without any bulwarks
or embossments; and the whole mount to be thirty
foot high; and some fine banqueting-house, with
some chimneys neatly cast, and without too much

For fountains, they are a great beauty and re-
freshment; but pools mar all, and make the garden
unwholesome, and full of flies and frogs. Foun-
tains I intend to be of two natures: the one that
sprinkleth or spouteth water; the other a fair re-
ceipt of water, of some thirty or forty foot square,
but without fish, or slime, or mud. For the first,
the ornaments of images gilt, or of marble, which
are in use, do well: but the main matter is so to
convey the water, as it never stay, either in the
bowls or in the cistern; that the water be never by
rest discolored, green or red or the like; or gather
any mossiness or putrefaction. Besides that, it is to
be cleansed every day by the hand. Also some
steps up to it, and some fine pavement about it,
doth well. As for the other kind of fountain, which
we may call a bathing pool, it may admit much
curiosity and beauty; wherewith we will not
trouble ourselves: as, that the bottom be finely
paved, and with images; the sides likewise; and
withal embellished with colored glass, and such
things of lustre; encompassed also with fine rails
of low statuas. But the main point is the same
which we mentioned in the former kind of foun-
tain; which is, that the water be in perpetual
motion, fed by a water higher than the pool, and
delivered into it by fair spouts, and then dis-
charged away under ground, by some equality of
bores, that it stay little. And for fine devices, of
arching water without spilling, and making it rise
in several forms (of feathers, drinking glasses,
canopies, and the like), they be pretty things to
look on, but nothing to health and sweetness.

For the heath, which was the third part of our
plot, I wish it to be framed, as much as may be, to
a natural wildness. Trees I would have none in it,
but some thickets made only of sweet-briar and
honeysuckle, and some wild vine amongst; and
the ground set with violets, strawberries, and
primroses. For these are sweet, and prosper in the
shade. And these to be in the heath, here and there,
not in any order. I like also little heaps, in the na-
ture of mole-hills (such as are in wild heaths), to
be set, some with wild thyme; some with pinks;
some with germander, that gives a good flower to
the eye; some with periwinkle; some with violets;
some with strawberries; some with cowslips; some
with daisies; some with red roses; some with lilium
convallium; some with sweet-williams red; some
with bear's-foot: and the like low flowers, being
withal sweet and sightly. Part of which heaps, are
to be with standards of little bushes pricked upon
their top, and part without. The standards to be
roses; juniper; holly; berberries (but here and
there, because of the smell of their blossoms); red
currants; gooseberries; rosemary; bays; sweet-
briar; and such like. But these standards to be kept
with cutting, that they grow not out of course.

For the side grounds, you are to fill them with
variety of alleys, private, to give a full shade, some
of them, wheresoever the sun be. You are to frame
some of them, likewise, for shelter, that when the
wind blows sharp you may walk as in a gallery.
And those alleys must be likewise hedged at both
ends, to keep out the wind; and these closer alleys
must be ever finely gravelled, and no grass, be-
cause of going wet. In many of these alleys, like-
wise, you are to set fruit-trees of all sorts; as well
upon the walls, as in ranges. And this would be
generally observed, that the borders wherein you
plant your fruit-trees, be fair and large, and low,
and not steep; and set with fine flowers, but thin
and sparingly, lest they deceive the trees. At the
end of both the side grounds, I would have a mount
of some pretty height, leaving the wall of the en-
closure breast high, to look abroad into the fields.

For the main garden, I do not deny, but there
should be some fair alleys ranged on both sides,
with fruit-trees; and some pretty tufts of fruit-
trees, and arbors with seats, set in some decent
order; but these to be by no means set too thick; but
to leave the main garden so as it be not close, but
the air open and free. For as for shade, I would
have you rest upon the alleys of the side grounds,
there to walk, if you be disposed, in the heat of the
year or day; but to make account, that the main
garden is for the more temperate parts of the year;
and in the heat of summer, for the morning and
the evening, or overcast days.

For aviaries, I like them not, except they be of
that largeness as they may be turfed, and have
living plants and bushes set in them; that the birds
may have more scope, and natural nesting, and
that no foulness appear in the floor of the aviary.
So I have made a platform of a princely garden,
partly by precept, partly by drawing, not a model,
but some general lines of it; and in this I have
spared for no cost. But it is nothing for great
princes, that for the most part taking advice with
workmen, with no less cost set their things to-
gether; and sometimes add statuas and such things
for state and magnificence, but nothing to the true
pleasure of a garden.

Of Negotiating

IT IS generally better to deal by speech than by
letter; and by the mediation of a third than by
a man's self. Letters are good, when a man would
draw an answer by letter back again; or when it
may serve for a man's justification afterwards to
produce his own letter; or where it may be danger
to be interrupted, or heard by pieces. To deal in
person is good, when a man's face breedeth regard,
as commonly with inferiors; or in tender cases,
where a man's eye, upon the countenance of him
with whom he speaketh, may give him a direction
how far to go; and generally, where a man will
reserve to himself liberty, either to disavow or to
expound. In choice of instruments, it is better to
choose men of a plainer sort, that are like to do
that, that is committed to them, and to report back
again faithfully the success, than those that are
cunning, to contrive, out of other men's business,
somewhat to grace themselves, and will help the
matter in report for satisfaction's sake. Use also
such persons as affect the business, wherein they
are employed; for that quickeneth much; and
such, as are fit for the matter; as bold men for ex-
postulation, fair-spoken men for persuasion, crafty
men for inquiry and observation, froward, and
absurd men, for business that doth not well bear
out itself. Use also such as have been lucky, and
prevailed before, in things wherein you have em-
ployed them; for that breeds confidence, and they
will strive to maintain their prescription. It is bet-
ter to sound a person, with whom one deals afar
off, than to fall upon the point at first; except you
mean to surprise him by some short question. It is
better dealing with men in appetite, than with
those that are where they would be. If a man deal
with another upon conditions, the start or first per-
formance is all; which a man cannot reasonably
demand, except either the nature of the thing be
such, which must go before; or else a man can
persuade the other party, that he shall still need
him in some other thing; or else that he be counted
the honester man. All practice is to discover, or to
work. Men discover themselves in trust, in passion,
at unawares, and of necessity, when they would
have somewhat done, and cannot find an apt pre-
text. If you would work any man, you must either
know his nature and fashions, and so lead him; or
his ends, and so persuade him; or his weakness and
disadvantages, and so awe him; or those that have
interest in him, and so govern him. In dealing with
cunning persons,we must ever consider their ends,
to interpret their speeches; and it is good to say
little to them, and that which they least look for.
In all negotiations of difficulty, a man may not
look to sow and reap at once; but must prepare
business, and so ripen it by degrees.

0f Followers


COSTLY followers are not to be liked; lest
while a man maketh his train longer, he
make his wings shorter. I reckon to be costly, not
them alone which charge the purse, but which are
wearisome, and importune in suits. Ordinary fol-
lowers ought to challenge no higher conditions,
than countenance, recommendation, and protec-
tion from wrongs. Factious followers are worse to
be liked, which follow not upon affection to him,
with whom they range themselves, but upon
discontentment conceived against some other;
whereupon commonly ensueth that ill intelli-
gence, that we many times see between great per-
sonages. Likewise glorious followers, who make
themselves as trumpets of the commendation of
those they follow, are full of inconvenience; for
they taint business through want of secrecy; and
they export honor from a man, and make him a
return in envy. There is a kind of followers like-
wise, which are dangerous, being indeed espials;
which inquire the secrets of the house, and bear
tales of them, to others. Yet such men, many times,
are in great favor; for they are officious, and com-
monly exchange tales. The following by certain
estates of men, answerable to that, which a great
person himself professeth (as of soldiers, to him
that hath been employed in the wars, and the like),
hath ever been a thing civil, and well taken, even
in monarchies; so it be without too much pomp
or popularity. But the most honorable kind of fol-
lowing, is to be followed as one, that apprehendeth
to advance virtue, and desert, in all sorts of per-
sons. And yet, where there is no eminent odds in
sufficiency, it is better to take with the more pass-
able, than with the more able. And besides, to
speak truth, in base times, active men are of more
use than virtuous. It is true that in government, it
is good to use men of one rank equally: for to coun-
tenance some extraordinarily, is to make them
insolent, and the rest discontent; because they
may claim a due. But contrariwise, in favor, to
use men with much difference and election is
good; for it maketh the persons preferred more
thankful, and the rest more officious: because all is
of favor. It is good discretion, not to make too much
of any man at the first; because one cannot hold
out that proportion. To be governed (as we call it)
by one is not safe; for it shows softness, and gives
a freedom, to scandal and disreputation; for those,
that would not censure or speak ill of a man imme-
diately, will talk more boldly of those that are so
great with them, and thereby wound their honor.
Yet to be distracted with many is worse; for it
makes men to be of the last impression, and full of
change. To take advice of some few friends, is ever
honorable; for lookers-on many times see more
than gamesters; and the vale best discovereth the
hill. There is little friendship in the world, and least
of all between equals, which was wont to be mag-
nified. That that is, is between superior and in-
ferior, whose fortunes may comprehend the one
the other.

Of Suitors

MANY ill matters and projects are under-
taken; and private suits do putrefy the pub-
lic good. Many good matters, are undertaken with
bad minds; I mean not only corrupt minds, but
crafty minds, that intend not performance. Some
embrace suits, which never mean to deal effectu-
ally in them; but if they see there may be life in
the matter, by some other mean, they will be con-
tent to win a thank, or take a second reward, or at
least to make use, in the meantime, of the suitor's
hopes. Some take hold of suits, only for an occa-
sion to cross some other; or to make an informa-
tion, whereof they could not otherwise have apt
pretext; without care what become of the suit,
when that turn is served; or, generally, to make
other men's business a kind of entertainment, to
bring in their own. Nay, some undertake suits,
with a full purpose to let them fall; to the end to
gratify the adverse party, or competitor. Surely
there is in some sort a right in every suit; either a
right of equity, if it be a suit of controversy; or a
right of desert, if it be a suit of petition. If affection
lead a man to favor the wrong side in justice, let
him rather use his countenance to compound the
matter, than to carry it. If affection lead a man
to favor the less worthy in desert, let him do it,
without depraving or disabling the better deserver.
In suits which a man doth not well understand, it
is good to refer them to some friend of trust and
judgment, that may report, whether he may deal
in them with honor: but let him choose well his
referendaries, for else he may be led by the nose.
Suitors are so distasted with delays and abuses,
that plain dealing, in denying to deal in suits at
first, and reporting the success barely, and in chal-
lenging no more thanks than one hath deserved,
is grown not only honorable, but also gracious. In
suits of favor, the first coming ought to take little
place: so far forth, consideration may be had of
his trust, that if intelligence of the matter could
not otherwise have been had, but by him, advan-
tage be not taken of the note, but the party left to
his other means; and in some sort recompensed,
for his discovery. To be ignorant of the value of a
suit, is simplicity; as well as to be ignorant of the
right thereof, is want of conscience. Secrecy in
suits, is a great mean of obtaining; for voicing
them to be in forwardness, may discourage some
kind of suitors, but doth quicken and awake others.
But timing of the suit is the principal. Timing, I
say, not only in respect of the person that should
grant it, but in respect of those, which are like to
cross it. Let a man, in the choice of his mean, rather
choose the fittest mean, than the greatest mean;
and rather them that deal in certain things, than
those that are general. The reparation of a denial,
is sometimes equal to the first grant; if a man
show himself neither dejected nor discontented.
Iniquum petas ut aequum feras is a good rule,
where a man hath strength of favor: but other-
wise, a man were better rise in his suit; for
he, that would have ventured at first to have lost
the suitor, will not in the conclusion lose both the
suitor, and his own former favor. Nothing is
thought so easy a request to a great person, as his
letter; and yet, if it be not in a good cause, it is so
much out of his reputation. There are no worse
instruments, than these general contrivers of suits;
for they are but a kind of poison, and infection, to
public proceedings.

Of Studies

STUDIES serve for delight, for ornament, and
for ability. Their chief use for delight, is in
privateness and retiring; for ornament, is in dis-
course; and for ability, is in the judgment, and
disposition of business. For expert men can exe-
cute, and perhaps judge of particulars, one by one;
but the general counsels, and the plots and mar-
shalling of affairs, come best, from those that are
learned. To spend too much time in studies is sloth;
to use them too much for ornament, is affectation;
to make judgment wholly by their rules, is the
humor of a scholar. They perfect nature, and are
perfected by experience: for natural abilities are
like natural plants, that need proyning, by study;
and studies themselves, do give forth directions too
much at large, except they be bounded in by ex-
perience. Crafty men contemn studies, simple men
admire them, and wise men use them; for they
teach not their own use; but that is a wisdom with-
out them, and above them, won by observation.
Read not to contradict and confute; nor to believe
and take for granted; nor to find talk and dis-
course; but to weigh and consider. Some books are
to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few
to be chewed and digested; that is, some books are
to be read only in parts; others to be read, but not
curiously; and some few to be read wholly, and
with diligence and attention. Some books also may
be read by deputy, and extracts made of them by
others; but that would be only in the less impor-
tant arguments, and the meaner sort of books, else
distilled books are like common distilled waters,
flashy things. Reading maketh a full man; confer-
ence a ready man; and writing an exact man. And
therefore, if a man write little, he had need have
a great memory; if he confer little, he had need
have a present wit: and if he read little, he had
need have much cunning, to seem to know, that
he doth not. Histories make men wise; poets witty;
the mathematics subtile; natural philosophy deep;
moral grave; logic and rhetoric able to contend.
Abeunt studia in mores. Nay, there is no stond or
impediment in the wit, but may be wrought out
by fit studies; like as diseases of the body, may
have appropriate exercises. Bowling is good for
the stone and reins; shooting for the lungs and
breast; gentle walking for the stomach; riding for
the head; and the like. So if a man's wit be wan-
dering, let him study the mathematics; for in
demonstrations, if his wit be called away never so
little, he must begin again. If his wit be not apt to
distinguish or find differences, let him study the
Schoolmen; for they are cymini sectores. If he be
not apt to beat over matters, and to call up one
thing to prove and illustrate another, let him study 197
the lawyers' cases. So every defect of the mind,
may have a special receipt.

Of Faction

MANY have an opinion not wise, that for a
prince to govern his estate, or for a great
person to govern his proceedings, according to the
respect of factions, is a principal part of policy;
whereas contrariwise, the chiefest wisdom, is
either in ordering those things which are general,
and wherein men of several factions do neverthe-
less agree; or in dealing with correspondence to
particular persons, one by one. But I say not that
the considerations of factions, is to be neglected.
Mean men, in their rising, must adhere; but
great men, that have strength in themselves, were
better to maintain themselves indifferent, and
neutral. Yet even in beginners, to adhere so moder-
ately, as he be a man of the one faction, which is
most passable with the other, commonly giveth
best way. The lower and weaker faction, is the
firmer in conjunction; and it is often seen, that a
few that are stiff, do tire out a greater number, that
are more moderate. When one of the factions is ex-
tinguished, the remaining subdivideth; as the
faction between Lucullus, and the rest of the
nobles of the senate (which they called Optimates)
held out awhile, against the faction of Pompey
and Caesar; but when the senate's authority was
pulled down, Caesar and Pompey soon after brake.
The faction or party of Antonius and Octavianus
Caesar, against Brutus and Cassius, held out like-
wise for a time; but when Brutus and Cassius were
overthrown, then soon after, Antonius and Octa-
vianus brake and subdivided. These examples are
of wars, but the same holdeth in private factions.
And therefore, those that are seconds in factions,
do many times, when the faction subdivideth,
prove principals; but many times also, they prove
ciphers and cashiered; for many a man's strength
is in opposition; and when that faileth, he groweth
out of use. It is commonly seen, that men, once
placed, take in with the contrary faction, to that
by which they enter: thinking belike, that they
have the first sure, and now are ready for a new
purchase. The traitor in faction, lightly goeth
away with it; for when matters have stuck long in
balancing, the winning of some one man casteth
them, and he getteth all the thanks. The even car-
riage between two factions, proceedeth not always
of moderation, but of a trueness to a man's self,
with end to make use of both. Certainly in Italy,
they hold it a little suspect in popes, when they
have often in their mouth Padre commune: and
take it to be a sign of one, that meaneth to refer all
to the greatness of his own house. Kings had need
beware, how they side themselves, and make
themselves as of a faction or party; for leagues
within the state, are ever pernicious to monarchies:
for they raise an obligation, paramount to obliga-
tion of sovereignty, and make the king tanquam
unus ex nobis; as was to be seen in the League of
France. When factions are carried too high and too
violently, it is a sign of weakness in princes; and
much to the prejudice, both of their authority and
business. The motions of factions under kings
ought to be, like the motions (as the astronomers
speak) of the inferior orbs, which may have their
proper motions, but yet still are quietly carried, by
the higher motion of primum mobile.

Of Ceremonies,


HE THAT is only real, had need have exceed-
ing great parts of virtue; as the stone had
need to be rich, that is set without foil. But if a
man mark it well, it is, in praise and commenda-
tion of men, as it is in gettings and gains: for the
proverb is true, That light gains make heavy
purses; for light gains come thick, whereas great,

Book of the day: