Francis Bacon



Of Truth
Of Death
Of Unity in Religion
Of Revenge
Of Adversity
Of Simulation and Dissimulation
Of Parents and Children
Of Marriage and Single Life
Of Envy
Of Love
Of Great Place
Of Boldness
Of Goodness and Goodness of Nature
Of Nobility
Of Seditions and Troubles
Of Atheism
Of Superstition
Of Travel
Of Empire
Of Counsel
Of Delays
Of Cunning
Of Wisdom for a Man's Self
Of Innovations
Of Dispatch
Of Seeming Wise
Of Friendship
Of Expense
Of the True Greatness of Kingdoms and Estates
Of Regiment of Health
Of Suspicion
Of Discourse
Of Plantations
Of Riches
Of Prophecies
Of Ambition
Of Masques and Triumphs
Of Nature in Men
Of Custom and Education
Of Fortune
Of Usury
Of Youth and Age
Of Beauty
Of Deformity
Of Building
Of Gardens
Of Negotiating
Of Followers and Friends
Of Suitors
Of Studies
Of Faction
Of Ceremonies and Respects
Of Praise
Of Vain-glory
Of Honor and Reputation
Of Judicature
Of Anger
Of Vicissitude of Things
Of Fame
(Glossary of Archaic Terms)

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SALOMON saies; A good Name is as a precious

oyntment; And I assure my selfe, such wil

your Graces Name bee, with Posteritie.  For your

Fortune, and Merit both, have been Eminent.  And

you have planted Things, that are like to last.  I doe

now publish my Essayes; which, of all my other

workes, have beene most Currant: For that, as it

seemes, they come home, to Mens Businesse, and

Bosomes.  I have enlarged them, both in Number,

and Weight; So that they are indeed a New Worke.

I thought it therefore agreeable, to my Affection,

and Obligation to your Grace, to prefix your Name

before them, both in English, and in Latine.  For I

doe conceive, that the Latine Volume of them,

(being in the Universall Language) may last, as

long as Bookes last.  My Instauration, I dedicated to

the King: My Historie of Henry the Seventh,

(which I have now also translated into Latine) and

my Portions of Naturall History, to the Prince:

And these I dedicate to your Grace; Being of the

best Fruits, that by the good Encrease, which God

gives to my Pen and Labours, I could yeeld.

God leade your Grace by the Hand.  Your Graces

most Obliged and faithfull Servant,


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Of Truth

WHAT is truth? said jesting Pilate,and would

not stay for an answer.  Certainly there be,

that delight in giddiness, and count it a bondage to

fix a belief; affecting free-will in thinking, as well

as in acting.  And though the sects of philosophers

of that kind be gone, yet there remain certain dis-

coursing wits, which are of the same veins, though

there be not so much blood in them, as was in those

of the ancients.  But it is not only the difficulty and

labor, which men take in finding out of truth, nor

again, that when it is found, it imposeth upon

men's thoughts, that doth bring lies in favor; but

a natural, though corrupt love, of the lie itself.  One

of the later school of the Grecians, examineth the

matter, and is at a stand, to think what should be

in it, that men should love lies; where neither they

make for pleasure, as with poets, nor for advan-

tage, as with the merchant; but for the lie's sake.

But I cannot tell; this same truth, is a naked, and

open day-light, that doth not show the masks, and

mummeries, and triumphs, of the world, half so

stately and daintily as candle-lights.  Truth may

perhaps come to the price of a pearl, that showeth

best by day; but it will not rise to the price of a

diamond, or carbuncle, that showeth best in varied

lights.  A mixture of a lie doth ever add pleasure.

Doth any man doubt, that if there were taken out

of men's minds, vain opinions, flattering hopes,

false valuations, imaginations as one would, and

the like, but it would leave the minds, of a number

of men, poor shrunken things, full of melancholy

and indisposition, and unpleasing to themselves?

One of the fathers, in great severity, called poesy

vinum daemonum, because it fireth the imagina-

tion; and yet, it is but with the shadow of a lie.

But it is not the lie that passeth through the mind,

but the lie that sinketh in, and settleth in it, that

doth the hurt; such as we spake of before.  But how-

soever these things are thus in men's depraved

judgments, and affections, yet truth, which only

doth judge itself, teacheth that the inquiry of truth,

which is the love-making, or wooing of it, the

knowledge of truth, which is the presence of it, and

the belief of truth, which is the enjoying of it, is

the sovereign good of human nature.  The first

creature of God, in the works of the days, was the

light of the sense; the last, was the light of reason;

and his sabbath work ever since, is the illumina-

tion of his Spirit.  First he breathed light, upon the

face of the matter or chaos; then he breathed light,

into the face of man; and still he breatheth and in-

spireth light, into the face of his chosen.  The poet,

that beautified the sect, that was otherwise in-

ferior to the rest, saith yet excellently well: It is a

pleasure, to stand upon the shore, and to see ships

tossed upon the sea; a pleasure, to stand in the win-

dow of a castle, and to see a battle, and the adven-

tures thereof below: but no pleasure is comparable

to the standing upon the vantage ground of truth

(a hill not to be commanded, and where the air is

always clear and serene), and to see the errors, and

wanderings, and mists, and tempests, in the vale

below; so always that this prospect be with pity,

and not with swelling, or pride.  Certainly, it is

heaven upon earth, to have a man's mind move in

charity, rest in providence, and turn upon the

poles of truth.

To pass from theological, and philosophical

truth, to the truth of civil business; it will be ac-

knowledged, even by those that practise it not, that

clear, and round dealing, is the honor of man's

nature; and that mixture of falsehoods, is like alloy

in coin of gold and silver, which may make the

metal work the better, but it embaseth it.  For these

winding, and crooked courses, are the goings of the

serpent; which goeth basely upon the belly, and

not upon the feet.  There is no vice, that doth so

cover a man with shame, as to be found false and

perfidious.  And therefore Montaigne saith pret-

tily, when he inquired the reason, why the word

of the lie should be such a disgrace, and such an

odious charge? Saith he, If it be well weighed, to

say that a man lieth, is as much to say, as that he is

brave towards God, and a coward towards men.

For a lie faces God, and shrinks from man.  Surely

the wickedness of falsehood, and breach of faith,

cannot possibly be so highly expressed, as in that

it shall be the last peal, to call the judgments of God

upon the generations of men; it being foretold,

that when Christ cometh, he shall not find faith

upon the earth.

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Of Death

MEN fear death, as children fear to go in the

dark; and as that natural fear in children,

is increased with tales, so is the other.  Certainly,

the contemplation of death, as the wages of sin,

and passage to another world, is holy and relig-

ious; but the fear of it, as a tribute due unto nature,

is weak.  Yet in religious meditations, there is some-

times mixture of vanity, and of superstition.  You

shall read, in some of the friars' books of mortifica-

tion, that a man should think with himself, what

the pain is, if he have but his finger's end pressed,

or tortured, and thereby imagine, what the pains

of death are, when the whole body is corrupted,

and dissolved; when many times death passeth,

with less pain than the torture of a limb; for the

most vital parts, are not the quickest of sense.  And

by him that spake only as a philosopher, and nat-

ural man, it was well said, Pompa mortis magis

terret, quam mors ipsa.  Groans, and convulsions,

and a discolored face, and friends weeping, and

blacks, and obsequies, and the like, show death

terrible.  It is worthy the observing, that there is no

passion in the mind of man, so weak, but it mates,

and masters, the fear of death; and therefore,

death is no such terrible enemy, when a man hath

so many attendants about him, that can win the

combat of him.  Revenge triumphs over death; love

slights it; honor aspireth to it; grief flieth to it; fear

preoccupateth it; nay, we read, after Otho the em-

peror had slain himself, pity (which is the tender-

est of affections) provoked many to die, out of mere

compassion to their sovereign, and as the truest

sort of followers.  Nay, Seneca adds niceness and

satiety: Cogita quamdiu eadem feceris; mori velle,

non tantum fortis aut miser, sed etiam fastidiosus

potest.  A man would die, though he were neither

valiant, nor miserable, only upon a weariness to

do the same thing so oft, over and over.  It is no less

worthy, to observe, how little alteration in good

spirits, the approaches of death make; for they

appear to be the same men, till the last instant.

Augustus Caesar died in a compliment; Livia, con-

jugii nostri memor, vive et vale.  Tiberius in dissi-

mulation; as Tacitus saith of him, Jam Tiberium

vires et corpus, non dissimulatio, deserebant.  Ves-

pasian in a jest, sitting upon the stool; Ut puto deus

fio.  Galba with a sentence; Feri, si ex re sit populi

Romani; holding forth his neck.  Septimius Severus

in despatch; Adeste si quid mihi restat agendum.

And the like.  Certainly the Stoics bestowed too

much cost upon death, and by their great prepara-

tions, made it appear more fearful.  Better saith he,

qui finem vitae extremum inter munera ponat

naturae.  It is as natural to die, as to be born; and to

a little infant, perhaps, the one is as painful, as the

other.  He that dies in an earnest pursuit, is like one

that is wounded in hot blood; who, for the time,

scarce feels the hurt; and therefore a mind fixed,

and bent upon somewhat that is good, doth avert

the dolors of death.  But, above all, believe it, the

sweetest canticle is', Nunc dimittis; when a man

hath obtained worthy ends, and expectations.

Death hath this also; that it openeth the gate to

good fame, and extinguisheth envy. - Extinctus

amabitur idem.

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Of Unity


RELIGION being the chief band of human so-

ciety, it is a happy thing, when itself is well

contained within the true band of unity.  The

quarrels, and divisions about religion, were evils

unknown to the heathen.  The reason was, because

the religion of the heathen, consisted rather in

rites and ceremonies, than in any constant belief.

For you may imagine, what kind of faith theirs

was, when the chief doctors, and fathers of their

church, were the poets.  But the true God hath this

attribute, that he is a jealous God; and therefore,

his worship and religion, will endure no mixture,

nor partner.We shall therefore speak a few words,

concerning the unity of the church; what are the

fruits thereof ; what the bounds; and what the


The fruits of unity (next unto the well pleasing

of God, which is all in all) are two: the one, towards

those that are without the church, the other,

towards those that are within.  For the former; it is

certain, that heresies, and schisms, are of all others

the greatest scandals; yea, more than corruption

of manners.  For as in the natural body, a wound,

or solution of continuity, is worse than a corrupt

humor; so in the spiritual.  So that nothing, doth so

much keep men out of the church, and drive men

out of the church, as breach of unity.  And there-

fore, whensoever it cometh to that pass, that one

saith, Ecce in deserto, another saith, Ecce in pene-

tralibus; that is, when some men seek Christ, in the

conventicles of heretics, and others, in an outward

face of a church, that voice had need continually

to sound in men's ears, Nolite exire, - Go not out.

The doctor of the Gentiles (the propriety of whose

vocation, drew him to have a special care of those

without) saith, if an heathen come in, and hear

you speak with several tongues, will he not say

that you are mad? And certainly it is little better,

when atheists, and profane persons, do hear of

so many discordant, and contrary opinions in re-

ligion; it doth avert them from the church, and

maketh them, to sit down in the chair of the

scorners. It is but a light thing, to be vouched in so

serious a matter, but yet it expresseth well the

deformity.  There is a master of scoffing, that in his

catalogue of books of a feigned library, sets down

this title of a book, The Morris-Dance of Heretics.

For indeed, every sect of them, hath a diverse pos-

ture, or cringe by themselves, which cannot but

move derision in worldlings, and depraved politics,

who are apt to contemn holy things.

As for the fruit towards those that are within; it

is peace; which containeth infinite blessings.  It

establisheth faith; it kindleth charity; the outward

peace of the church, distilleth into peace of con-

science; and it turneth the labors of writing, and

reading of controversies, into treaties of mortifica-

tion and devotion.

Concerning the bounds of unity; the true plac-

ing of them, importeth exceedingly.  There appear

to be two extremes.  For to certain zealants, all

speech of pacification is odious.  Is it peace, Jehu,?

What hast thou to do with peace? turn thee be-

hind me.  Peace is not the matter, but following,

and party.  Contrariwise, certain Laodiceans, and

lukewarm persons, think they may accommodate

points of religion, by middle way, and taking part

of both, and witty reconcilements; as if they would

make an arbitrament between God and man.  Both

these extremes are to be avoided; which will be

done, if the league of Christians, penned by our

Savior himself, were in two cross clauses thereof,

soundly and plainly expounded: He that is not

with us, is against us; and again, He that is not

against us, is with us; that is, if the points funda-

mental and of substance in religion, were truly

discerned and distinguished, from points not

merely of faith, but of opinion, order, or good in-

tention.  This is a thing may seem to many a matter

trivial, and done already.  But if it were done less

partially, it would be embraced more generally.

Of this I may give only this advice, according to

my small model.  Men ought to take heed, of rend-

ing God's church, by two kinds of controversies.

The one is, when the matter of the point contro-

verted, is too small and light, not worth the heat

and strife about it, kindled only by contradiction.

For, as it is noted, by one of the fathers, Christ's

coat indeed had no seam, but the church's vesture

was of divers colors; whereupon he saith, In veste

varietas sit, scissura non sit; they be two things,

unity and uniformity.  The other is, when the

matter of the point controverted, is great, but it is

driven to an over-great subtilty, and obscurity; so

that it becometh a thing rather ingenious, than

substantial.  A man that is of judgment and under-

standing, shall sometimes hear ignorant men dif-

fer, and know well within himself, that those

which so differ, mean one thing, and yet they

themselves would never agree.  And if it come so

to pass, in that distance of judgment, which is be-

tween man and man, shall we not think that God

above, that knows the heart, doth not discern that

frail men, in some of their contradictions, intend

the same thing; and accepteth of both? The nature

of such controversies is excellently expressed, by

St. Paul, in the warning and precept, that he giveth

concerning the same, Devita profanas vocum novi-

tates, et oppositiones falsi nominis scientiae.  Men

create oppositions, which are not; and put them

into new terms, so fixed, as whereas the meaning

ought to govern the term, the term in effect gov-

erneth the meaning.There be also two false peaces,

or unities: the one, when the peace is grounded,

but upon an implicit ignorance; for all colors will

agree in the dark: the other, when it is pieced up,

upon a direct admission of contraries, in funda-

mental points.  For truth and falsehood, in such

things, are like the iron and clay, in the toes of

Nebuchadnezzar's image; they may cleave, but

they will not incorporate.

Concerning the means of procuring unity; men

must beware, that in the procuring, or reuniting,

of religious unity, they do not dissolve and deface

the laws of charity, and of human society.  There

be two swords amongst Christians, the spiritual

and temporal; and both have their due office and

place, in the maintenance of religion.  But we may

not take up the third sword, which is Mahomet's

sword, or like unto it; that is, to propagate religion

by wars, or by sanguinary persecutions to force

consciences; except it be in cases of overt scandal,

blasphemy, or intermixture of practice against

the state; much less to nourish seditions; to author-

ize conspiracies and rebellions; to put the sword

into the people's hands; and the like; tending to

the subversion of all government, which is the

ordinance of God.  For this is but to dash the first

table against the second; and so to consider men

as Christians, as we forget that they are men.

Lucretius the poet, when he beheld the act of Aga-

memnon, that could endure the sacrificing of his

own daughter, exclaimed: Tantum Religio potuit

suadere malorum.

What would he have said, if he had known of

the massacre in France, or the powder treason of

England? He would have been seven times more

Epicure, and atheist, than he was.  For as the tem-

poral sword is to be drawn with great circumspec-

tion in cases of religion; so it is a thing monstrous

to put it into the hands of the common people.  Let

that be left unto the Anabaptists, and other furies.

It was great blasphemy, when the devil said, I will

ascend, and be like the highest; but it is greater

blasphemy, to personate God, and bring him in

saying, I will descend, and be like the prince of

darkness; and what is it better, to make the cause

of religion to descend, to the cruel and execrable

actions of murthering princes, butchery of people,

and subversion of states and governments? Surely

this is to bring down the Holy Ghost, instead of the

likeness of a dove, in the shape of a vulture or

raven; and set, out of the bark of a Christian

church, a flag of a bark of pirates, and assassins.

Therefore it is most necessary, that the church, by

doctrine and decree, princes by their sword, and

all learnings, both Christian and moral, as by their

Mercury rod, do damn and send to hell for ever,

those facts and opinions tending to the support of

the same; as hath been already in good part done.

Surely in counsels concerning religion, that coun-

sel of the apostle would be prefixed, Ira hominis

non implet justitiam Dei.  And it was a notable

observation of a wise father, and no less ingenu-

ously confessed; that those which held and per-

suaded pressure of consciences, were commonly

interested therein., themselves, for their own ends.

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Of Revenge

REVENGE is a kind of wild justice; which the

more man' s nature runs to, the more ought

law to weed it out.  For as for the first wrong, it

doth but offend the law; but the revenge of that

wrong, putteth the law out of office.  Certainly, in

taking revenge, a man is but even with his enemy;

but in passing it over, he is superior; for it is a

prince's part to pardon.  And Solomon, I am sure,

saith, It is the glory of a man, to pass by an offence.

That which is past is gone, and irrevocable; and

wise men have enough to do, with things present

and to come; therefore they do but trifle with

themselves, that labor in past matters.  There is no

man doth a wrong, for the wrong's sake; but

thereby to purchase himself profit, or pleasure, or

honor, or the like.  Therefore why should I be

angry with a man, for loving himself better than

me? And if any man should do wrong, merely out

of ill-nature, why, yet it is but like the thorn or

briar, which prick and scratch, because they can

do no other.  The most tolerable sort of revenge, is

for those wrongs which there is no law to remedy;

but then let a man take heed, the revenge be such

as there is no law to punish; else a man's enemy is

still before hand, and it is two for one.  Some, when

they take revenge, are desirous, the party should

know, whence it cometh.  This is the more gener-

ous.  For the delight seemeth to be, not so much in

doing the hurt, as in making the party repent.  But

base and crafty cowards, are like the arrow that

flieth in the dark.  Cosmus, duke of Florence, had a

desperate saying against perfidious or neglecting

friends, as if those wrongs were unpardonable;

You shall read (saith he) that we are commanded

to forgive our enemies; but you never read, that we

are commanded to forgive our friends.  But yet the

spirit of Job was in a better tune: Shall we (saith

he) take good at God's hands, and not be content to

take evil also? And so of friends in a proportion.

This is certain, that a man that studieth revenge,

keeps his own wounds green, which otherwise

would heal, and do well.  Public revenges are for

the most part fortunate; as that for the death of

Caesar; for the death of Pertinax; for the death of

Henry the Third of France; and many more.  But

in private revenges, it is not so.  Nay rather, vindic-

tive persons live the life of witches; who, as they

are mischievous, so end they infortunate.

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Of Adversity

IT WAS an high speech of Seneca (after the

manner of the Stoics), that the good things,

which belong to prosperity, are to be wished; but

the good things, that belong to adversity, are to be

admired.  Bona rerum secundarum optabilia; ad-

versarum mirabilia.  Certainly if miracles be the

command over nature, they appear most in adver-

sity.  It is yet a higher speech of his, than the other

(much too high for a heathen), It is true greatness,

to have in one the frailty of a man, and the security

of a God.  Vere magnum habere fragilitatem homi-

nis, securitatem Dei.  This would have done better

in poesy, where transcendences are more allowed.

And the poets indeed have been busy with it; for

it is in effect the thing, which figured in that

strange fiction of the ancient poets, which seemeth

not to be without mystery; nay, and to have some

approach to the state of a Christian; that Hercules,

when he went to unbind Prometheus (by whom

human nature is represented), sailed the length of

the great ocean, in an earthen pot or pitcher; lively

describing Christian resolution, that saileth in the

frail bark of the flesh, through the waves of the

world.  But to speak in a mean.  The virtue of pros-

perity, is temperance; the virtue of adversity, is

fortitude; which in morals is the more heroical

virtue.  Prosperity is the blessing of the Old Testa-

ment; adversity is the blessing of the New; which

carrieth the greater benediction, and the clearer

revelation of God's favor.  Yet even in the Old

Testament, if you listen to David's harp, you shall

hear as many hearse-like airs as carols; and the

pencil of the Holy Ghost hath labored more in de-

scribing the afflictions of Job, than the felicities of

Solomon.  Prosperity is not without many fears

and distastes; and adversity is not without com-

forts and hopes.  We see in needle-works and em-

broideries, it is more pleasing to have a lively work,

upon a sad and solemn ground, than to have a dark

and melancholy work, upon a lightsome ground:

judge therefore of the pleasure of the heart, by the

pleasure of the eye.  Certainly virtue is like precious

odors, most fragrant when they are incensed, or

crushed: for prosperity doth best discover vice, but

adversity doth best discover virtue.

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Of Simulation


DISSIMULATION is but a faint kind of pol-

icy, or wisdom; for it asketh a strong wit,

and a strong heart, to know when to tell truth, and

to do it.  Therefore it is the weaker sort of politics,

that are the great dissemblers.

Tacitus saith, Livia sorted well with the arts of

her husband, and dissimulation of her son; attri-

buting arts or policy to Augustus, and dissimula-

tion to Tiberius.  And again, when Mucianus

encourageth Vespasian, to take arms against Vitel-

lius, he saith, We rise not against the piercing

judgment of Augustus, nor the extreme caution or

closeness of Tiberius.  These properties, of arts or

policy, and dissimulation or closeness, are indeed

habits and faculties several, and to be distin-

guished.  For if a man have that penetration of

judgment, as he can discern what things are to

be laid open, and what to be secreted, and what to

be showed at half lights, and to whom and when

(which indeed are arts of state, and arts of life, as

Tacitus well calleth them), to him, a habit of dis-

simulation is a hinderance and a poorness.  But if

a man cannot obtain to that judgment, then it is

left to bim generally, to be close, and a dissembler.

For where a man cannot choose, or vary in parti-

culars, there it is good to take the safest, and wari-

est way, in general; like the going softly, by one

that cannot well see.  Certainly the ablest men

that ever were, have had all an openness, and

frankness, of dealing; and a name of certainty and

veracity; but then they were like horses well

managed; for they could tell passing well, when to

stop or turn; and at such times, when they thought

the case indeed required dissimulation, if then

they used it, it came to pass that the former opin-

ion, spread abroad, of their good faith and clear-

ness of dealing, made them almost invisible.

There be three degrees of this hiding and veil-

ing of a man's self.  The first, closeness, reservation,

and secrecy; when a man leaveth himself without

observation, or without hold to be taken, what he

is. The second, dissimulation, in the negative;

when a man lets fall signs and arguments, that he

is not, that he is.  And the third, simulation, in the

affirmative; when a man industriously and ex-

pressly feigns and pretends to be, that he is not.

For the first of these, secrecy; it is indeed the

virtue of a confessor.  And assuredly, the secret

man heareth many confessions.  For who will open

himself, to a blab or a babbler? But if a man be

thought secret, it inviteth discovery; as the more

close air sucketh in the more open; and as in con-

fession, the revealing is not for worldly use, but for

the ease of a man's heart, so secret men come to

the knowledge of many things in that kind; while

men rather discharge their minds, than impart

their minds.  In few words, mysteries are due to

secrecy.  Besides (to say truth) nakedness is un-

comely, as well in mind as body; and it addeth no

small reverence, to men's manners and actions, if

they be not altogether open.  As for talkers and

futile persons, they are commonly vain and credu-

lous withal.  For he that talketh what he knoweth,

will also talk what he knoweth not.  Therefore set it

down, that an habit of secrecy, is both politic and

moral.  And in this part, it is good that a man's face

give his tongue leave to speak.  For the discovery of

a man' s self, by the tracts of his countenance, is a

great weakness and betraying; by how much it is

many times more marked, and believed, than a

man's words.

For the second, which is dissimulation; it fol-

loweth many times upon secrecy, by a necessity;

so that he that will be secret, must be a dissembler

in some degree.  For men are too cunning, to suffer

a man to keep an indifferent carriage between

both, and to be secret, without swaying the bal-

ance on either side.  They will so beset a man with

questions, and draw him on, and pick it out of him,

that, without an absurd silence, he must show an

inclination one way; or if he do not, they will

gather as much by his silence, as by his speech.  As

for equivocations, or oraculous speeches, they can-

not hold out long.  So that no man can be secret,

except he give himself a little scope of dissimula-

tion; which is, as it were, but the skirts or train of


But for the third degree, which is simulation,

and false profession; that I hold more culpable,

and less politic; except it be in great and rare mat-

ters.  And therefore a general custom of simulation

(which is this last degree) is a vice, using either of

a natural falseness or fearfulness, or of a mind that

hath some main faults, which because a man must

needs disguise, it maketh him practise simulation

in other things, lest his hand should be out of use.

The great advantages of simulation and dissi-

mulation are three.  First, to lay asleep opposition,

and to surprise.  For where a man's intentions are

published, it is an alarum, to call up all that are

against them.  The second is, to reserve to a man's

self a fair retreat.  For if a man engage himself by

a manifest declaration, he must go through or take

a fall.  The third is, the better to discover the mind

of another.  For to him that opens himself, men

will hardly show themselves adverse; but will fair

let him go on, and turn their freedom of speech, to

freedom of thought.  And therefore it is a good

shrewd proverb of the Spaniard, Tell a lie and find

a troth.  As if there were no way of discovery, but

by simulation.  There be also three disadvantages,

to set it even.  The first, that simulation and dissi-

mulation commonly carry with them a show of

fearfulness, which in any business, doth spoil the

feathers, of round flying up to the mark.  The sec-

ond, that it puzzleth and perplexeth the conceits

of many, that perhaps would otherwise co-operate

with him; and makes a man walk almost alone, to

his own ends.  The third and greatest is, that it

depriveth a man of one of the most principal in-

struments for action; which is trust and belief.

The best composition and temperature, is to have

openness in fame and opinion; secrecy in habit;

dissimulation in seasonable use; and a power to

feign, if there be no remedy.

(return to contents)

Of Parents


THE joys of parents are secret; and so are their

griefs and fears.  They cannot utter the one;

nor they will not utter the other.  Children sweeten

labors; but they make misfortunes more bitter.

They increase the cares of life; but they mitigate

the remembrance of death.  The perpetuity by

generation is common to beasts; but memory,

merit, and noble works, are proper to men.  And

surely a man shall see the noblest works and foun-

dations have proceeded from childless men; which

have sought to express the images of their minds,

where those of their bodies have failed.  So the care

of posterity is most in them, that have no posterity.

They that are the first raisers of their houses, are

most indulgent towards their children; beholding

them as the continuance, not only of their kind, but

of their work; and so both children and creatures.

The difference in affection, of parents towards

their several children, is many times unequal; and

sometimes unworthy; especially in the mothers;

as Solomon saith, A wise son rejoiceth the father,

but an ungracious son shames the mother.  A man

shall see, where there is a house full of children,

one or two of the eldest respected, and the young-

est made wantons; but in the midst, some that

are as it were forgotten, who many times, never-

theless, prove the best.  The illiberality of parents,

in allowance towards their children, is an harmful

error; makes them base; acquaints them with

shifts; makes them sort with mean company; and

makes them surfeit more when they come to

plenty.  And therefore the proof is best, when men

keep their authority towards the children, but not

their purse.  Men have a foolish manner (both par-

ents and schoolmasters and servants) in creating

and breeding an emulation between brothers, dur-

ing childhood, which many times sorteth to dis-

cord when they are men, and disturbeth families.

The Italians make little difference between chil-

dren, and nephews or near kinsfolks; but so they

be of the lump, they care not though they pass not

through their own body.  And, to say truth, in

nature it is much a like matter; insomuch that we

see a nephew sometimes resembleth an uncle, or

a kinsman, more than his own parent; as the blood

happens.  Let parents choose betimes, the vocations

and courses they mean their children should take;

for then they are most flexible; and let them not

too much apply themselves to the disposition of

their children, as thinking they will take best to

that, which they have most mind to.  It is true, that

if the affection or aptness of the children be extra-

ordinary, then it is good not to cross it; but gener-

ally the precept is good, optimum elige, suave et

facile illud faciet consuetudo.  Younger brothers

are commonly fortunate, but seldom or never

where the elder are disinherited.

(return to contents)

Of Marriage


HE THAT hath wife and children hath given

hostages to fortune; for they are impedi-

ments to great enterprises, either of virtue or mis-

chief.  Certainly  the  best  works,  and  of  greatest

merit for the  public,  have  proceeded  from  the  un-

married or childless men; which both in affection

and means, have married and endowed the public.

Yet it were great reason that those that have chil-

dren, should have greatest care of future times;