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Some procure themselves to be surprised at such times as it is like the party that they work upon will suddenly come upon them; and to be found with a letter in their hand, or doing somewhat which they are not accustomed ; to the end they may be apposed' of those things which of themselves they are desirous to utter.
It is a point of cunning, to let fall those words in a man's own name, which he would have another man learn and use, and thereupon take advantage. I knew two that were competitors for the secretary's place in queen Elizabeth's time, and yet kept good quarter between themselves 3; and would confer one with another upon the business; and the one of them said, That to be a secretary in the declination of a monarchy was a ticklish thing, and that he did not affect it: the other straight caught up those words, and discoursed with divers of his friends, that he had no reason to desire to be secretary in the declination of a monarchy. The first man took hold of it, and found means it was told the Queen ; who hearing of a declination of a monarchy, took it so ille, as she would never after hear of the other's suit.
There is a cunning, which we in England call5 The turning of the cat in the pan ; which is, when that which a man says to another, he lays it as if another had said it to him. And to say truth, it is not easy, when such a matter passed between two, to make it appear from which of them it first moved and began.
It is a way that some men have, to glance and dart at others by justifying themselves by negatives; as to say This I do not ; as Tigellinus did towards Burrhus, Se non diversas spes, sed incolumitatem imperatoris simpliciter spectare : [That he had not several hopes to rest on, but looked simply to the safety of the Emperor.]
Some have in readiness so many tales and stories, as there is nothing they would insinuate, but they can wrap it into a tale ; which serveth both to keep themselves more in guard, and to make others carry it with more pleasure.
i ut interrogentur de iis rebus,
ut inde alterum irretiat et subruat. qui tamen se invicem amice tractabant.
eaque verba ut ad Reginæ aures pervenirent, tanquam scilicet ab altero prolata, curavit ; quæ indignata circa illa verba, in Declinatione Monarchia, cum ipsa se vigentem reputaret, &c.
quod Anglico proverbio Felem in aheno vertere satis absurde dicitur. 6 unde et se magis in tuto continent, quusi nihil diserte affirmantes, et rem ipsam majore cum voluptate spargi efficiunt.
It is a good point of cunning, for a man to shape the answer he would have in his own words and propositions; for it makes the other party stick the less.
It is strange how long some men will lie in wait to speak somewhat they desire to say; and how far about they will fetch; and how many other matters they will beat over, to come near it. It is a thing of great patience, but yet of much use.
A sudden, bold, and unexpected question doth many times surprise a man, and lay him open. Like to him that, having changed his name and walking in Paul's, another suddenly came behind him and called him by his true name, whereat straightways he looked back.
But these small wares and petty points of cunning are infinite; and it were a good deed to make a list of them'; for that nothing doth more hurt in a state than that cunning men pass for wise..
But certainly some there are that know the resorts and falls of business, that cannot sink into the main of it?; like a house that hath convenient stairs and entries, but never a fair room. Therefore you shall see them find out pretty looses in the conclusion, but are no ways able to examine or debate matters. And yet commonly they take advantage of their inability, and would be thought wits of direction.3 Some build rather upon the abusing of others, and (as we now say) putting tricks upon them, than upon soundness of their own proceedings. But Salomon saith, Prudens advertit ad gressus suos : stultus divertit ad dolos : [The wise man taketh heed to his steps: the fool turneth aside to deceits.]
XXIII. OF WISDOM FOR A MAN'S SELF.
An ant is a wise creature for itself, but it is a shrewd thing in an orchard or garden. And certainly men that are great lovers of themselves waste the public. Divide with reason
' Si quis eorum conficeret uberiorem catalogum.
? nonnullos negotiorum periodos et pausas nosse, qui in ipsorum viscera et interiora penetrure nequeunt.
* Itaque tales videbis in conclusionibus deliberationum commodos quosdam exitus reperire ; ad rem vero examinandam et disceptandam nullo modo sufficere. Attamen sæpenumero ex hac re existimationem quandam aucupantur; veluti ingenia quæ ad decernendum potius quam ad disputandum sint aptiora.
between self-love and society; and be so true to thyself, as thou be not false to others; specially to thy king and country. It is a poor centre of a man's actions, himself. It is right earth. For that only stands fast upon his own centre; whereas all things that have affinity with the heavens, move upon the centre of another, which they benefit. The referring of all to a man's self is more tolerable in a sovereign prince; because themselves are not only themselves, but their good and evil is at the peril of the public fortune. But it is a desperate evil in a servant to a prince, or a citizen in a republic. For whatsoever affairs pass such a man's hands, he crooketh them to his own ends; which must needs be often eccentric to the ends of his master or state. Therefore let princes, or states, choose such servants as have not this mark; except they mean their service should be made but the accessary. That which maketh the effect more pernicious is that all proportion is lost. It were disproportion enough for the servant's good to be preferred before the master's; but yet it is a greater extreme, when a little good of the servant shall carry things against a great good of the master's. And yet that is the case of bad officers, treasurers, ambassadors, generals, and other false and corrupt servants; which set a bias upon their bowl, of their own petty ends and envies, to the overthrow of their master's great and important affairs. And for the most part, the good such servants receive is after the model of their own fortune; but the hurt they sell for that good is after the model of their master's fortune. And certainly it is the nature of extreme self-lovers, as they will set an house on fire, and it were but to roast their eggs; and yet these men many times hold credit with their masters, because their study is but to please them and profit themselves; and for either respect they will abandon the good of their affairs.
Wisdom for a man's self is, in many branches thereof, a depraved thing. It is the wisdom of rats, that will be sure to leave a house somewhat before it fall. It is the wisdom of the fox, that thrusts out the badger, who digged and made room for him. It is the wisdom of crocodiles, that shed tears when they would devour. But that which is specially to be noted is, that those which (as Cicero says of Pompey) are sui amantes, sine rivali, [lovers of themselves without rival,] are many times unfortunate. And whereas they have all their times sacrificed
to themselves, they become in the end themselves sacrifices to the inconstancy of fortune ; whose wings they thought by their self-wisdom to have pinioned.
XXIV. OF INNOVATIONS.
As the births of living creatures at first are ill-shapen, so are all Innovations, which are the births of time. Yet notwithstanding, as those that first bring honour into their family are commonly more worthy than most that succeed, so the first precedent (if it be good) is seldom attained by imitation. For Ill, to man's nature as it stands perverted, hath a natural motion, strongest in continuance; but Good, as a forced motion, strongest at first. Surely every medicine is an innovation; and he that will not apply new remedies must expect new evils ; for time is the greatest innovator ; and if time of course alter things to the worse, and wisdom and counsel shall not alter them to the better, what shall be the end ? It is true, that what is settled by custom, though it be not good, yet at least it is fit?; and those things which have long gone together, are as it were confederate within themselves ; whereas new things piece not so well 3; but though they help by their utility, yet they trouble by their inconformity. Besides, they are like strangers ; more admired and less favoured. All this is true, if time stood still; which contrariwise moveth so round, that a froward retention of custom is as turbulent a thing as an innovation; and they that reverence too much old times, are but a scorn to the new. It were good therefore that men in their innovations would follow the example of time itself; which indeed innovateth greatly, but quietly, and by degrees scarce to be perceived. For otherwise, whatsoever is new is unlooked for; and ever it mends some, and pairs other; and he that is holpen takes it for a fortune, and thanks the time; and he that is hurt, for a wrong, and imputeth it to the author. It is good also not to try experiments in states", except the necessity be urgent, or
Ita rerum exemplaria et primordia (quando feliciter jacta sunt) imitationem ætatis sequentis ut plurimum superant.
aptum esse tamen temporibus. 3 ubi contra, nova veteribus non usquequaque tam concinne cohæreant.
' in corporibus politicis medendis. VOL. VI.
the utility evident; and well to beware that it be the reformation that draweth on the change, and not the desire of change that pretendeth the reformation. And lastly, that the novelty, though it be not rejected, yet be held for a suspect; and, as the Scripture saith, that we make a stand upon the ancient way, and then look about us, and discover what is the straight and right way, and so to walk in it.
XXV. OF DISPATCH.
AFFECTED dispatch is one of the most dangerous things to business that can be. It is like that which the physicians call predigestion, or hasty digestion ; which is sure to fill the body full of crudities and secret seeds of diseases. Therefore measure not dispatch by the times of sitting, but by the advancement of the business. And as in races it is not the large stride or high lift that makes the speed ; so in business, the keeping close to the matter, and not taking of it too much at once, procureth dispatch. It is the care of some only to come off speedily' for the time; or to contrive some false periods of business, because they may seem men of dispatch. But it is one thing to abbreviate by contracting, another by cutting off. And business so handled at several sittings or meetings goeth commonly backward and forward in an unsteady manner. I knew a wise man that had it for a by-word, when he saw men hasten to a conclusion, Stay a little, that we may make an end the sooner.
On the other side, true dispatch is a rich thing. For time is the measure of business, as money is of wares; and business is bought at a dear hand where there is small dispatch. The Spartans and Spaniards have been noted to be of small dispatch; Mi venga la muerte de Spagna ; Let my death come from Spain; for then it will be sure to be long in coming.
Give good hearing to those that give the first information in business; and rather direct them in the beginning, than interrupt them in the continuance of their speeches; for he that is put out of his own order will go forward and backward,
celeritas nimia et effectata.