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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 Noete Consilium.15 So was it done in the Commission of Union between England and Scotland; which was a grave and orderly Assembly. I commend fet 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 agere.16 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, ftanding Commissions; as for Trade, for Treasure, for War, for Suits, for some Provinces : for where there be divers particular Councils, and but one Council of Estate (as it is in Spain) they are, in effect, no more than Standing Commisfrons ; 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 tribunitious manner; for that is to clamour Councils not to inform them. A 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, sing him a Song of Placebo.
15 'Εν νυκτί βουλή, Greek proverb.
16 A phrase in frequent use with the Romans for to attend to the business in hand.
xxi. Of Delays.'
ORTUNE is like the Market; where
many times, if you can stay a little, the Price will fall. And again, it is some
times like Sybilla'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 Noddle after she hath presented her Locks in front, and no hold taken : 2 or at least turneth the
I See Antitheta, No. 41.
? See Catonis Difticha, ii. 66.-Phædr. Fab. v. 8, but above all Erasmus, Adag. p. 296, ed. Lugd. 1550, fol. where, in explaining the proverb Nosce Tempus, after mentioning the mode in which Opportunity was represented by the ancients, he says, “Ad quod erudite femel et eleganter allusit quisquis is fuit, qui verficulum hunc conscripsit,
Fronte capillata, poft hæc Occasio calva.” He then refers to the Epigram of Pofidippus (Anthol. Jacobs. 11.49), of which he gives a paraphrase. Alciat has also paraphrased it, see his 12 ift Emblem, and Ausonius long before (Epigram xil) in which these lines occur :
Crine tegis faciem. Cognosce nolo. Sed heus tu!
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 well 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,3 which maketh the politick Man go invisible, is Secrecy in the Counsel, 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.
3 Hom. Il. l. v. S. 45.
XXII. Of Cunning.
Wisdom ; and certainly there is great
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 Canvafles 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 ;3 doth scarce hold for them. And because these Cunning Men are like Haberdashers of small Wares, 4 it is not amiss to set forth their Shop.
It is a Point of Cunning to wait upon 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 Tour Eye fometimes, as the Jesuits also do use.
| To pack the cards was to so arrange them in shuffling as to secure a good hand, a common practice with cheats who were often inferior players.
2 Practice here means intrigue, confederacy. 3 This is attributed to one of the philosophers in Apophthegms, * Retail dealers of any kind were formerly called Haberdashers.
Another is, that when you have any Thing to obtain of prefent Dispatch, you entertain and amuse the Party with whom 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 fign, but he would always first put her into fome Discourse of Estate, that she might the less mind the Bills.
The like Surprise may be made by moving Things when the Party is in haste and cannot stay to consider advisedly of that is moved.
If a Man would cross a Business that he doubts some other would handsomely and effectually move, let him pretend to wish it well, and move it himself, in such sort as may foil it.
The breaking off in the midst of that one was about to say, as if he took himself up,
breeds a greater Appetite in him with whom you confer, to know more.
And because it works better when any Thing seemeth to be gotten from you by Question than if
you offer it of yourself, you may lay a Bait for a Question by showing another Visage and Countenance than you are wont; to the end, to give Occasion for the Party to ask what the Matter is of the Change, as Nehemiah did ; And I had not before that time been sad before the King. 5 In Things that are tender and unpleasing, it is
5 Nehem, ii. 1.