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It is a miserable state of mind (and yet it is commonly the case of kings) to have few things to desire, and many to fear.
Depression of the nobility may make a king more absolute, but less safe.
All precepts concerning kings are, in effect, comprehended in these remembrances : Remember thou art a man; remenper thou art God's vicegerent. The one bridleth their power, and the other their will.
Things will have their first or second agitation. If they be not tossed upon the arguments of counsel, they will be tossed upon
the waves of fortune. The true composition of a counsellor, is rather to be skilled in his master's business than his nature ; for then he is like
; to advise him, and not to feed his humour.
Fortune sometimes turneth the handle of the bottle, which is easy to be taken hold of; and after the belly, which is hard to grasp.
Generally it is good to commit the beginning of all great actions to Argus with an hundred eyes; and the ends of them to Briareus with an hundred hands; first to watch and then to speed.
There is a great difference betwixt a cunning man and a wise man.
There be that can pack the cards, who yet can t play well; they are good in canvasses and factions, and yet otherwise mean men.
Extreme self-lovers will set a man's house on fire, though it were but to roast their eggs.
New things, like strangers, are more admired and less favoured.
It were good that men, in their innovations, would follow the example of time itself, which indeed innovateth greatly, hut quietly, and by degrees scarce to be perceived.
They that reverence too much old time, are but a scorn to
The Spaniards and Spartans have been noted to be of small despatch. Mi venga la muerte de Spagna-Let my
death come from Spain ; for then it will be sure to be long e-coming.
You had better take for business a man somewhat absurd, than over-formal.
Those who want friends to whom to open their griefs, are cannibals of their own hearts.
Number itself importeth not much in armies, where the people are of weak courage ; for (as Virgil says) it never troubles a wolf how many the sheep be.
Let states, that aim at greatness, take heed how their nobility and gentry multiply too fast. In coppice woods, if you leave your staddles too thick, you shall never have clean underwood, but shrubs and bushes.
A civil war is like the heat of a fever ; but a foreign wai is like the heat of exercise, and serveth to keep the body in health.
Suspicions among thoughts are like bats among birds, they ever fly by twilight.
Base natures, if they find themselves once suspected, will never be true.
Men ought to find the difference between saltness and bitterness. Certainly he that hath a satirical vein, as he maketh others afraid of his wit, so he had need be afraid of others' memory.
Discretion in speech is more than eloquence.
Men seem neither well to understand their riches, nor their strength ; of the former they believe greater things than they should and of the latter much less. And from hence fatal pillars have bounded the progress of learning.
Riches are the baggage of virtue ; they cannot be spared nor left behind, but they hinder the march,
Great riches have sold more men than ever they have bought out.
He that defers his charity till he is dead, is (if a man weighs it rightly) rather liberal of another man's, than of
Ambition is like choler; if he can move, it makes mer
active ; if it be stopped, it becomes adust, and makes meu melancholy.
To take a soldier without ambition, is to pull off his spurs.
Some ambitious men seem as screens to princes in matters of danger and envy. For no man will take such parts, except he be like the seeld dove, that mounts and mounts, because he cannot see about him.
Princes and states should choose such ministers as are more sensible of duty than rising; and should discern a busy nature from a willing mind.
A man's nature runs either to herbs or weeds; therefore let him seasonably water the one, and destroy the other.
If a man look sharp and attentively, he shall see fortune ; for though she be blind, she is not invisible.
Usury bringeth the treasure of the realm or state into a few hands : for the usurer being at certainties, and the others at uncertainties ; at the end of the game most of the money will be in the box.
Beauty is best in a body that hath rather dignity of presence, than beauty of aspect.
The beautiful prove accomplished, but not of great spirit ; and study, for the most part, rather behaviour than virtue.
The best part of beauty, is that which a picture cannot express.
He who builds a fair house upon an ill seat, commits himself to prison.
would work on any man, you must either know his nature and fashions, and so lead him ; or his ends, and so persuade him ; or his weaknesses and disadvantages, and so awe him ; or those that have interest in him, and so govern him.
Costly followers (among whom we may reckon those who are importunate in suits) are not to be liked ; lest while a man maketh his train longer, he maketh his wings shorter.
Fame is like a river, that beareth up things light and swollen, und drowns things weighty and solid.
Senecu saith well, that anger is like rain, that breaks itself upon
that it falls. Excusations, cessions, modesty itself well governed, are but arts of ostentation.
High treason is not written in ice; that when the body relenteth, the impression should go away.
The best governments are always subject to be like the fairest crystals, when every icicle or grain is seen, which in a fouler stone is never perceived.
In great place ask counsel of both times : of the ancient time what is best, and of the latter time what is fittest.
The virtue of prosperity is temperance, of adversity fortitude, which in morals is the more heroical virtue. Prosperity is the blessing of the Old Testament, adversity the blessing of the New, which carrieth the greater benediction and the clearer revelation of God's favour.
SHORT NOTES FOR CIVIL CONVERSATION,
To deceive men's expectations generally (with cautel), argueth a staid mind, and unexpected constancy; viz. in matters of fear, anger, sudden joy or grief, and all things which
may affect or alter the mind in public or sudden accidents, or such like.
It is necessary to use a steadfast countenance, not waving with action, as in moving the head or hand too much, which showeth a fantastical light and fickle operation of the spirit, and consequently like mind as gesture : only it is sufficient, with leisure, to use a modest action in either.
In all kinds of speech, either pleasant, grave, severe, or ordinary, it is convenient to speak leisurely, and rather drawingly, than hastily ; because hasty speech confounds the memory, and oftentimes (besides unseemliness) drives a man either to a nonplus or unseemly stammering, harping upon that which should follow ; whereas a slow speech confirmeth the memory, addeth a conceit of wisdom to the hearers, besides a seemliness of speech and countenance.
To desire in discourse to hold all arguments, is ridiculous, wanting true judgment; for in all things no man can be exquisite.
To have common-places to discourse, and to want variety, is both tedious to the hearers, and shows a shallowness of conceit; therefore it is good to vary, and suit speeches with the present occasions; and to have a moderation in all our
; speeches, especially in jesting, of religion, state, great persons, weighty and important business, poverty, or anything deserving pity.
To use many circumstances, ere you como to matter, is wearisome : and to use none at all, is but blunt.
Bashfulness is a great hinderance to a man, both of uttering his conceit, and understanding what is propounded unto him ; wherefore, it is good to press himself forwards with discretion, both in speech, and company of the better sort.
Usus promptos facit.