صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

able to grind with a hand-mill ;' and those inward counsellors had need also be wise men, and especially true and trusty to the King's ends; as it was with King Henry the Seventh of England, who in his greatest business imparted himself to none, except it were to Morton S and Fox.b

For weakening of authority, the fablei showeth the remedy: nay, the majesty of Kings is rather exalted thao diminished when they are in the chair of council ; neither was there ever prince bereaved of his dependencies by his council, except where there hath been either an over-greatness in one counsellor, or an over strict combination in divers, which are things soon found and holpen."

For the last inconvenience, that men will counsel with an eye to themselves ; certainly, non inveniet fidem super terram,"' is meant of the nature of times,m and not of all particular persons.

There be that are in nature faithful and sincere, and plain and direct, nut crafty and involved : let princes, above all, draw to themselves such natures. Besides, counsellors are not commonly so united, but that one counsellor keepeth sentinel over another; so that if any do counsel out of faction or private ends, it commonly comes to the King's ear: but the best remedy is, if princes know their counsellors, as well as their counsellors know them :

[ocr errors]

m

h

" That is, without a complicated machinery of government.

& Master of the Rolls and privy-councillor under Henry VI., to whose cause he faithfully adhered. Edward IV. promoted him to the see of Ely, and made him lord-chancellor. He was elevated to the see of Canterbury by Henry VII., and in 1493 received the Cardinal's hat.

• Privy-councillor and Keeper of the Privy Seal to Henry VII.; and after enjoying several bishoprics in succession, translated to the see of Winchester. He was an able statesman, and highly valued by Henry VII. On the accession of Henry VIII., his political influence was counteracted by Wolsey; on which he retired to his diocese, and devoted the rest of his life to acts of piety and munificence.

| Before mentioned, relative to Jupiter and Metis. k Remedied.

1 “He shall not find faith upon the earth.” Lord Bacon probably alludes to the words of our Saviour, St. Luke xviii. 8: “ When the of man cometh, shall be find faith upon the earth ?”

m He means to say that this remark was only applicable to a particular time, namely, the coming of Christ. The period of the destruction of Jerusalem was probably referred to.

66

[ocr errors]

secun

Principis est virtus maxima nosse suos. And on the other side, counsellors should not be too speculative into their sovereign's person. The true composition of a counsellor is, rather to be skilful in their master's busiDess than in his nature ;o for then he is like to advise him, and not to feed his humour. It is of singular use to princes if they take the opinions of their council both separately and together; for private opinion is more free, but opinion before others is more reverend. In private, men are more bold in their own humours; and in consort, men are more obnoxious P to others' humours; therefore it is good to take both; and of the inferior sort rather in private, to preserve freedom; of the greater, rather in consort, to preserve respect. It is in vain for princes to take counsel concerning matters, if they take no counsel likewise concerning persons ; for all matters are as dead images : and the life of the execution of affairs resteth in the good choice of persons : neither is it enough to consult concerning persons, dum genera,”! as in an idea or mathematical description, what the kind and character of the person should be ; for the greatest errors are committed, and the most judgment is shown, in the choice of individuals. It was truly said, “ Optimi consiliarii mortui ;”r“ books will speak plain when counsellors blanch;": therefore it is good to be conversant in them, specially the books of such as themselves have been actors upon the stage.

The councils at this day in most places are but familiar meetings, where matters are rather talked on than debated ; and they run too swift to the order or act of council. It were better that in causes of weight the matter were propounded one day and not spoken to till the next day; – In

* " 'Tis the especial virtue of a prince to know his owo men.”
• In his disposition, or inclination.
P Liable to opposition from.

9 “According to classes," or, as we vulgarly say, " in the lump." Lord Bacon means that princes are not, as a matter of course, to tako counsellors merely on the presumption of talent, from their rank and station ; but that, on the contrary, they are to select such as are tried men, and with regard to whom there can be no mistake.

“The best counsellors are the dead.” • "Are afraid” to open their mouths.

"8

[ocr errors]

nocte consiliunı :"so was it done in the commission of union between England and Scotland, which was a grave and orderly assembly. I commend set days for petitions ; for both it gives the suitors more certainty for their attendance, and it frees the meetings for matters of estate, that they may “ hoc agero.". In choice of committees for ripening business for the council, it is better to choose indifferent persons, than to make an indifferency by putting in those that are strong on both sides. I commend, also, standing commissions; as for trade, for treasure, for war, foi suits, for some provinces ; for where there be divers par ticular councils, and but one council of estate (as it is in Spain), they are, in effect, no more than standing commissions, save that they have greater authority. Let such as are to inform councils out of their particular professions (as lawyers, seamen, mintmen, and the like), be first heard before committees; and then, as occasion serves, before the council ; and let them not come in multitudes, or in a tribunitiousy manner; for that is to clamour councils, not to inform them. À long table and a square table, or seats about the walls, seem things of form, but are things of substance ; for at a long table a few at the upper end, in effect, sway all the business ; but in the other form there is more use of the counsellors' opinions that sit lower. A King, when he presides in council, let him beware how he opens his own inclination too much in that which he propoundeth ; for else counsellors will but take the wind of him, and instead of giving free counsel, will sing him a song of “pla

cebo."

t

Night-time for counsel." « On the accession of James the Sixth of Scotland to the throne of England in 1603.

* A phrase much in use with the Romans, signifying, " to attend to the business in band." 1 A tribunitial or declamatory manner.

"I'll follow the bent of your humour."

XXI.-OF DELAYS. FORTUNE is like the market, where many times, if you can stay a little, the price will fall; and again, it is sometimes like Sibylla's offer, which at first offereth the commodity at full, then consumeth part and part, and still holdeth up the price ; for occasion (as it is in the common verse)“ turneth a bald noddleb after she hath presented her locks in front, and no hold taken;" or, at least, turneth the handle of the bottle first to be received, and after the belly. which is hard to clasp. There is surely no greater wisdom than well to time the beginnings and onsets of things Dangers are no more light, if they once seem light; and more dangers have deceived men than forced them : nay, it were better to meet some dangers half-way, though they come nothing near, than to keep too long a watch upon their approaches ; for if a man watch too long, it is odds he will fall asleep. On the other side, to be deceived with too long shadows (as some have been when the moon was low, and shone on their enemies' back), and so to shoot off before the time; or to teach dangers to come on by over early buckling towards them, is another extreme.

The ripeness or unripeness of the occasion (as we said) must ever be weli weighed ; and generally it is good to commit the beginnings of all great actions to Argus with his hundred eyes, and the ends to Briareus with his hundred hands; first to watch and then to speed ; for the helmet of Pluto, which maketh the politic man go invisible, is secrecy in the council, and celerity in the execution ; for when things are once come to the execution, there is no secrecy comparable to celerity; like the motion of a bullet in the air, which flieth so swift as it outruns the eye.

• See the bistory of Rome under the reign of Tarquinius Superbus.

• Bald head. He alludes to the cominon saying “ take time by the forelock."

[ocr errors]

XXII.-OF CUNNING. We take cunning for a sinister, or crooked wisdom ; and certainly there is great difference between a cunning man and a wise man, not only in point of honesty, but in point of ability. There be that can pack the cards, and yet cannot play well ; so there are some that are good in canvasses and factions, that are otherwise weak men. Again, it is one thing to understand persons, and another thing to understand matters ; for many are perfect in men's humours that are not greatly capable of the real part of business, which is the constitution of one that hath studied men more than books. Such men are fitter for practice than for counsel, and they are good but in their own alley : turn them to new men, and they have lost their aim ; so as the old rule, to know a fool from a wise man, “ Mitte ambos nudos ad ignotos, et videbis,”b doth scarce hold for them; and, because these

" cunning men are like haberdashers of small wares, it is not amiss to set forth their shop.

It is a point of cunning to wait upond him with whom you speak with your eye, as the Jesuits give it in precept ; for there be many wise men that have secret hearts and transparent countenances : yet this would be done with a demure abasing of your eye sometimes, as the Jesuits also do

a

а

с

use.

Another is, that when you have anything to obtain of present dispatch, you entertain and amuse the party with whom

1

you deal with some other discourse, that he be not too much awake to make objections. I knew a counsellor and secretary that never came to Queen Elizabeth of England with bills to sign, but he would always first put her into

Packing the cards is an admirable illustration of the author's mean ing. It is a cheating exploit, by which knaves, who perhaps are inferior players, insure to themselves the certainty of good hands.

b“Send them both naked among strangers, and then you will see.”.

• This word is used here in its primitive sense of “retail dealers." It is said to have been derived from a pistom of the Flemings, who first settled in this country in the fourteenth century, stopping the passengers as they passed their shops, and saying to tliem, “Haber das herr ? “Will you take this, sir ?" The word is now generally used as synouy mous with linen-draper.

d To watch.

« السابقةمتابعة »