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A COLLECTION OF SENTENCES
OUT OF SOME OF THE
WRITINGS OF THE LORD BACON.*
1. It is a strange desire which men have, to seek power, and lose liberty.
2. Children increase the cares of life; but they mitigate the remembrance of death.
3. Round dealing is the honour of man's nature; and a mixture of falsehood is like allay in gold and silver, which may make the metal work the better, but it embaseth it.
4. Death openeth the gate to good fame, and extinguisheth envy.
5. Schism in the spiritual body of the Church is a greater scandal than a corruption in manners : as, in the natural body, a wound or solution of continuity is worse than a corrupt humour.
6. Revenge is a kind of wild justice, which the more a man's nature runs to, the more ought law to weed it out.
7. He that studieth revenge, keepeth his own
8. Revengeful persons live and die like witches : their life is mischievous, and their end is unfortunate,
• Baconiana, page 65.
9. 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 which belong to adversity are to be admired.
10. He that cannot see well, let him go softly.
11. If a man be thought secret, it inviteth discovery; as the more close air sucketh in the more open. 12. Keep your authority wholly from
chil. dren, not so your purse.
13. Men of noble birth are noted to be envious towards new men when they rise : for the distance is altered ; and it is like a deceit of the eye, that when others come on, they think themselves go back.
14. That envy is most malignant which is like Cain's, who envied his brother, because his sacrifice was better accepted, when there was nobody but God to look on.
15. The lovers of great place are impatient of privateness, even in age, which requires the shadow : like old townsmen, that will be still sitting at their street door, though there they offer age to scorn.
16. In evil, the best condition is, not to will : the next, not to can.
17. In great place, ask counsel of both times : of the ancient time, what is best; and of the latter time, what is fittest.
18. As in nature things move more violently to their place, and calmly in their place : so virtue in ambition is violent; in authority, settled and calm.
19. Boldness in civil business is like pronunciation in the Orator of Demosthenes : the first, second, and third thing
20. Boldness is blind : wherefore it is ill in counsel, but good in execution. For in counsel it is good to see dangers ; in execution, not to see them, except they be very great.
21. Without good-nature, man is but a better kind of vermin.
22. God never wrought miracle to convince atheism, because his ordinary works convince it.
23. The great atheists indeed are hypocrites, who are always handling holy things, but without feeling ; so as they must needs be cauterized in the end.
24. The master of superstition is the people. And in all superstition, wise men follow fools.
25. In removing superstitions, care would be had, that, as it fareth in ill purgings, the good be not taken away with the bad : which commonly is done when the people is the physician.
26. He that goeth into a country before he hath some entrance into the language, goeth to school, and not to travel.
27. It is a miserable state of mind, and yet it is commonly the case of kings, to have few things to desire, and many things to fear.
28. Depression of the nobility may make a king more absolute, but less safe.
29. All precepts concerning kings are, in effect, comprehended in these remembrances : remember thou art a man; remember thou art God's vicegerent: the one bridleth their power, and the other their will.
30. 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.
. 31. 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.
32. Private opinion is more free, but opinion before others is more reverend.
33. Fortune is like a market, where many times if you stay a little the price will fall.
34. 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.
35. 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.
86. There is great difference betwixt a cunning man and a wise man. There be that can pack the cards, who yet cannot play well; they are good in canyasses and factions, and yet otherwise mean men.
37. Extreme self-lovers will set a man's house on fire, though it were but to roast their
eggs. 38. New things, like strangers, are more admired and less favoured.
39. It were good 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.
40. They that reverence too much old time, are but a scorn to the new.
41. The Spaniards and Spartans 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 a coming.
42. You had better take for business a man somewhat absurd, than over-formal.
43. Those who want friends to whom to open their griefs, are cannibals of their own hearts
.; 44. 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.
45. 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.
46. A civil war is like the heat of a fever ; but a foreign war is like the heat of exercise, and serveth to keep the body in health.
47. Suspicions among thoughts, are like bats among birds, they ever fly by twilight.
48. Base natures, if they find themselves once v suspected, will never be true.
49. 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.
50. Discretion in speech is more than eloquence.
51. Men seem neither well to understand their riches nor their strength ; of the former they believe