« PreviousContinue »
XXXIV. OF RICHES.
I CANNOT call Riches better than the baggage of virtue. The Roman word is better, impedimenta. For as the baggage is to an army, so is riches to virtue. It cannot be spared nor left behind, but it hindereth the march?; yea and the care of it sometimes loseth or disturbeth the victory. Of great riches there is no real use, except it be in the distribution; the rest is but conceit. So saith Salomon, Where much is, there are many to consume it; and what hath the owner but the sight of it with his eyes? The personal fruition in any man cannot reach to feel great riches?: there is a custody of them; or a power of dole and donative of them; or a fame of them; but no solid use to the owner. Do you not see what feigned prices are set upon little stones and rarities ? and what works of ostentation are undertaken, because there might seem to be some use of great riches? But then you will say, they may be of use to buy men out of dangers or troubles. As Salomon saith, Riches are as a strong hold, in the imagination of the rich man. But this is excellently expressed', that it is in imagination, and not always in fact. For certainly great riches have sold more men than they have bought out. Seek not proud riches, but such as thou mayest get justly, use soberly, distribute cheerfully, and leave contentedly. Yet have no abstract nor friarly * contempt of them. But distinguish, as Cicero saith well of Rabirius Posthumus, In studio rei amplificandæ apparebat, non avaritia prædam, sed instrumentum bonitati quæri; [In seeking to increase his estate it was apparent that he sought not a prey for avarice to feed
but an instrument for goodness to work with.] Hearken also to Salomon, and beware of hasty gathering of riches; Qui festinat ad divitias, non erit insons : [He that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent.] The poets feign, that when Plutus (which is Riches) is sent from Jupiter, he limps and goes slowly; but when he is sent from Pluto, he runs and is swift of foot. Meaning that riches gotten by good means and just labour pace slowly; but when they come by the death of others (as by the i necessaria siquidem sunt, sed graves.
Possessio divitiarum nulla voluptate dominum perfundit, quantum ad sensum. sed caute Salomon,
• instur monachi ulicujus aut a sæculo abstracti.
course of inheritance, testaments, and the like), they come tumbling upon a man. But it mought be applied likewise to Pluto, taking him for the devil. For when riches come from the devil (as by fraud and oppression and unjust means), they come upon speed. The ways to enrich are many, and most of them foul. Parsimony is one of the best, and yet is not innocent; for it withholdeth men from works of liberality and charity. The improvement of the ground is the most natural obtaining of riches; for it is our great mother's blessing, the earth's; but it is slow. And yet where men of great wealth do stoop to husbandry, it multiplieth riches exceedingly. I knew a nobleman in England, that had the greatest audits of any man in my time; a great grazier, a great sheep-master, a great timber man', a great collier, a great corn-master, a great lead-man, and so of iron, and a number of the like points of husbandry. So as the earth seemed a sea to him, in respect of the perpetual importation. It was truly observed by one, that himself came very hardly to a little riches, and very easily to great riches. For when a man's stock is come to that, that he can expect the prime of markets, and overcome those bargains which for their greatness are few men's money, and be partner in the industries of younger men”, he cannot but increase mainly. The gains of ordinary trades and vocations are honest; and furthered by two things chiefly; by diligence, and by a good name for good and fair dealing. But the gains of bargains 3 are of a more doubtful nature; when men shall wait upon others' necessity, broke by servants and instruments to draw them on“, put off others cunningly that would be better chapmen, and the like practices, which are crafty and naught.5 As for the chopping of bargains, when a man buys not to hold but to sell over again, that commonly grindeth double, both upon the seller and upon the buyer. Sharings do greatly enrich, if the hands be well chosen that are trusted. Usury is the certainest means of gain, though one of the worst; as that whereby a man doth eat his bread in sudore vultûs alieni ; [in the sweat of another man's face;] and besides, doth plough upon Sundays. Bu yet certain though it be, it hath flaws; for that
dives sylvis tam cæduis quam grandioribus.
servos et ministros alienos in damnum dominorum corrumpat.
the scriveners and brokers do value unsound men' to serve their own turn. The fortune in being the first in an invention or in a privilege, doth cause sometimes a wonderful overgrowth in riches; as it was with the first sugar man in the Canaries. Therefore if a man can play the true logician, to have as well judgment as invention, he may do great matters; especially if the times be fit. He that resteth upon gains certain, shall hardly grow to great riches; and he that puts all upon adventures, doth oftentimes break and come to poverty 2: it is good therefore to guard adventures with certainties, that may uphold losses. Monopolies, and coemption of wares for re-sale, where they are not restrained, are great means to enrich; especially if the party have intelligence what things are like to come into request, and so store himself beforehand. Riches gotten by service, though it be of the best rise ?, yet when they are gotten by flattery, feeding humours, and other servile conditions, they may be placed amongst the worst. As for fishing for testaments and executorships (as Tacitus saith of Seneca, testamenta et orbos tamquam indagine capi,) it is yet worse; by how much men submit themselves to meaner persons than in service. Believe not much them that seem to despise riches; for they despise them that despair of them; and none worse when they come to them. Be not penny-wise; riches have wings, and sometimes they fly away of themselves, sometimes they must be set flying to bring in more. Men leave their riches either to their kindred, or to the publicó; and moderate portions prosper best in both. A great state left to an heir, is as a lure to all the birds of prey round about to seize on him, if he be not the better stablished in years and judgment. Likewise glorious gifts and foundations are like sacrifices without salt ; and but the painted sepulchres of alms, which soon will putrefy and corrupt inwardly. Therefore measure not thine advancements by quantity, but frame them by measure6: and defer not charities till death ; for, certainly, if a man weigh it rightly, he that doth so is rather liberal of another man's than of his own.
homines fortunarum dubiarum quandoque extollent. ? vix fortunarum dispendia vitabit. 3 Opum acquisitio per servitium regum aut magnatum dignitatem aliquam habet. neque invenies
usquam tenaciores, ubi incipient ditescere. 8 (ut usui publico, aut liberis, cognatis, et amicis. • dona tua magnitudine ne metiaris, sed commoditate; et ad debitam mensuram redigas.
XXXV. OF PROPHECIES.
I MEAN not to speak of divine prophecies; nor of heathen oracles; nor of natural predictions; but only of prophecies that have been of certain memory, and from hidden causes.
Saith the Pythonissa to Saul, To-morrow thou and thy son shall be
Homer hath these verses :
At domus Æneæ cunctis dominabitur oris,
[The house of Æneas shall reign in all lands, and his children's children, and their generations.] A prophecy, as it seems, of the Roman empire. Seneca the tragedian hath these verses :
[There shall come a time when the bands of ocean shall be loosened, and the vast earth shall be laid open; another Tiphys shall disclose new worlds, and lands shall be seen beyond Thule:] a prophecy of the discovery of America. The daughter of Polycrates dreamed that Jupiter bathed her father, and Apollo anointed him; and it came to pass that he was crucified in an open place, where the sun made his body run with sweat, and the rain washed it. Philip of Macedon dreamed he sealed up his wife's belly; whereby he did expound it, that his wife should be barren; but Aristander the soothsayer told him his wife was with child, because men do not use to seal vessels that are empty. A phantasm that appeared to M. Brutus in his tent, said to him, Philippis iterum me videbis : [Thou shall see me again at Philippi.] Tiberius said to Galba, Tu quoque, Galba, degustabis imperium : [Thou likewise shall taste of empire.] In Vespasian's time, there went a prophecy in the East, that those that should come forth of Judea should reign over the world: which though it may be, was meant of our Saviour, yet Tacitus expounds it of Vespasian. Domitian dreamed, the
" There is no Latin translation of this Essay.
night before he was slain, that a golden head was growing out of the nape of his neck: and indeed the succession that followed him, for many years, made golden times. Henry the Sixth of England said of Henry the Seventh, when he was a lad, and gave him water, This is the lad that shall enjoy the crown for which we strive. When I was in France, I heard from one Dr. Pena, that the Queen Mother, who was given to curious arts, caused the King her husband's nativity to be calculated, under a false name; and the astrologer gave a judgment, that he should be killed in a duel; at which the Queen laughed, thinking her husband to be above challenges and duels : but he was slain upon a course at tilt, the splinters of the staff of Montgomery going in at his beaver. The trivial prophecy, which I heard when I was a child, and queen Elizabeth was in the flower of her years, was,
When hempe is sponne
whereby it was generally conceived, that after the princes had reigned which had the principial letters of that word hempe (which were Henry, Edward, Mary, Philip, and Elizabeth), England should come to utter confusion ; which, thanks be to God, is verified only in the change of the name; for that the King's style is now no more of England, but of Britain. There was also another prophecy, before the year of eighty-eight, which I do not well understand.
There shall be seen upon a day,
It was generally conceived to be meant of the Spanish fleet that came in eighty-eight: for that the king of Spain's surname, as they say, is Norway. The prediction of Regiomontanus,
Octogesimus octavus mirabilis annus, was thought likewise accomplished in the sending of that great fleet, being the greatest in strength, though not in number, of all that ever swam upon the sea. As for Cleon's dream, I think it was a jest. It was, that he was devoured of a long