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TO MY LOVING BROTHER,
SIR JOHN, CONSTABLE, KT.
My last Essays I dedicated to my, dear brother, Mr. Anthony Bacon, who is with God. Looking among my papers this vacation, I found others of the same nature: which if I my. self shall not suffer to be lost, it seemeth the world will not, by the often printing of the former. Missing my brother, I found you next; in respect of bond, both of near alliance, . and of straight friendship and society, and particularly of communication in studies; wherein I must acknowledge myself beholden to you : for as my business found rest in my contemplations, so my contemplations ever found rest in your loving conference and judgment : so wishing you all good, I remain
Your loving brother and friend,
EXCELLENT LORD, SOLOMON
says, “ A good name is as a precious ointment;" and I assure myself such will your Grace's name be with posterity : for your fortune and merit both have been eminent; and you have planted things that are like to last. I do now publish my Essays; which of all my other works, have been most current; for that, as it seems, they come home to men's business and bosoms. I have enlarged them both in number and weight; so that they are indeed a new work : I thought it therefore agreeable to my affection and obligation to your Grace, to prefix your name before them, both in English and Latin : for I do conceive, that the Latin volume of them, being in the universal language, may last as long as books last. My Instauration I dedicated to the King ; my History of Henry the Seventh, which I have now translated into Latin, and my portions of Natural History, to the Prince; and these I dedicate to your Grace, being of the best fruits, that, by the good increase which God gives to my pen and labours, I could yield. God lead your Grace by the hand.
I. 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 discoursing 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 labour 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 favour; but a natural, though corrupt love of the lie itself. One of the later schools 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 advantage, 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 shew the masques, and mummeries, and triumphs of the world, half so stately and daintily as candlelights. Truth may perhaps come to the price of a pearl, that sheweth
best by day; but it will not rise to the price of a diamond or carbuncle, that sheweth 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 inen poor shrunken things, full of melancholy indisposition, and unpleasing to themselves ? One of the fathers, in great severity, called poesy,
66 vinum dæmonum,” because it filleth the imagination, 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 howsoever 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 illumination 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 inspireth light into the face of his chosen. The poet that beautified the sect, that was otherwise inferior to the rest, saith yet excellently well, “ It is a pleasure to stand upon the shore, and to see ships toss'd upon the sea; a pleasure to stand in the window 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.
The pass from theological and philosophical truth to the truth of civil business, it will be acknowledged, even by those that practise it not, that clear and round dealing is the honour of man's nature, and that mixture of falsehood 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, “ If it be well weighed, to say that a man lieth, is as much as to say 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 earth.”