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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; 10 as it was with Julius Cæsar, and Septimius Severus. Of the
latter of whom it is said, Juventutem egit erroribus, imo furoribus, plenam. And yet he was the ablest emperor, almost, of all the list. But reposed natures may do well in
youth. As it is seen in Augustus Cæsar, Cosmus, Duke of 15 Florence, Gaston de Fois, 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 20 than for settled business. For the experience of age, in
things that fall within the compass of it, directeth them; but in new things, abuseth them. The errors of
young men are the ruin of business; but the errors of aged men amount
but to this, that more might have been done, or sooner. 25 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 consideration of the means and degrees; pursue some few principles which they have chanced
upon absurdly; care not to innovate, which draws unknown 30 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 35 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, 40 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 45 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 50 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 Hermogenes the rhetorician, whose books are exceeding subtle, who afterwards waxed stupid. A second sort is of those that have some natural dis- 55 positions 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 60 can uphold. As was Scipio Africanus, of whom Livy saith in effect, Ultima primis cedebant.
Studies serve for delight, for ornament, and for ability. Their chief use for delight is in privateness and retiring; for ornament, is in discourse; and for ability, is in the judgment and disposition of business. For expert men can execute, and perhaps judge of particulars, one by one; but the general 5 counsels, and the plots and marshalling 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
10 humour of a scholar. They perfect nature, and are perfecitd
by experience; for natural abilities are like natural plants, that need pruning by study; and studies themselves do give forth directions too much at large, except they be bounded in
by experience. 15 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 without 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 discourse; 20 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
be read by deputy, and extracts made of them by others; but that would be only in the less important arguments, and the meaner sort of books; else distilled books are like common distilled waters, flashy things. Reading maketh a full man;
conference a ready man; and writing an exact man. 30 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 subtle; 35 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 appro
priate exercises. Bowling is good for the stone and reins; 40 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 wandering, 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
A Boast of Tamburlaine
Now clear the triple region of the air,
The Passionate Shepherd to His Love
Songs from the Plays
That all our swains commend her ?
The heaven such grace did lend her,