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OF WISDOM FOR A MAN's self.
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 straight ways 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. 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 Solomon saith, “Prudens ad“ vertit ad gressus suos : stultus divertit ad dolos.":
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 between self-love and society; and be so true to thyself, as thou be not false to others, especially 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,” 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 illshapen, 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 all 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; 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, contrary wise, 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 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 calls 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: la muerte de Spagna ; "-" Let my death come
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