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Another precept of this architecture of fortune is, to accustom our minds to judge of the proportion or value of things, as they conduce and are material to our particular ends; and that to do substantially and not superficially. For we shall find the logical part, as I may term it, of some mens minds good, but the mathematical part erroneous; that is, they can well judge of consequences, but not of proportions and comparisons, preferring things of shew and sense before things of substance and effect. So some fall in love with access to princes, others with popular fame and applause, supposing they are things of great purchase; when, in many cases, they are but matters of envy, peril, and impediment.
So some measure things according to the labour and difficulty, or assiduity, which are spent about them; and think if they be ever moving, that they must needs advance and proceed: as Cæsar saith in a despising manner of Cato the second, when he describeth how laborious and indefatigable he was to no great purpose; Hæc omnia magno studio agebat. So in most things men are ready to abuse themselves in thinking the greatest means to be best, when it should be the fittest.
As for the true marshalling of mens pursuits towards their fortune, as they are more or less material, I hold them to stand thus: first, the amendment of their own minds; for the remove of the impediments of the mind will sooner clear the passages of fortune, than the obtaining fortune will remove the impediments of the mind. In second place I set down wealth and means, which, I know, most men would have placed first, because of the general use which it beareth towards all variety of occasions. But that opinion I may condemn with like reason as Machiavel doth that other, that moneys were the sinews of the wars, whereas, saith he, the true sinews of the wars are the sinews of mens arms, that is, a valiant, populous, and military nation; and he voucheth aptly the authority of Solon, who, when Croesus shewed him his treasury of gold, said to him, that if ano
ther came that had better iron, he would be master of his gold. In like manner it may be truly affirmed, that it is not moneys that are the sinews of fortune, but it is the sinews and steel of mens minds, wit, courage, audacity, resolution, temper, industry, and the like. In third place I set down reputation, because of the peremptory tides and currents it hath, which if they be not taken in their due time, are seldom recovered, it being extreme hard to play an after-game of reputation. And lastly I place honour, which is more easily won by any of the other three, much more by all, than any of them can be purchased by honour. To conclude this precept, as there is order and priority in matter, so is there in time, the preposterous placing whereof is one of the commonest errors, while men fly to their ends when they should intend their beginnings; and do not take things in order of time as they come on, but marshal them according to greatness, and not according to instance, not observing the good precept, Quod nunc instat agamus.
Another precept of this knowledge is, not to embrace any matters which do occupy too great a quantity of time, but to have that sounding in a man's ears, Sed fugit interea, fugit irreparabile tempus: and that is the cause why those which take their course of rising by professions of burden, as lawyers, orators, painful divines, and the like, are not commonly so politic for their own fortune, otherwise than in their ordinary way, because they want time to learn particulars, to wait occasions, and to devise plots.
Another precept of this knowledge is, to imitate nature, which doth nothing in vain; which surely a man may do if he do well interlace his business, and bend not his mind too much upon that which he principally intendeth. For a man ought in every particular action so to carry the motions of his mind, and so to have one thing under another, as if he cannot have that he seeketh in the best degree, yet to have it in a second, or so in a third; and if he can have no part of that which he purposed, yet to turn the use of
it to somewhat else; and if he cannot make any thing of it for the present, yet to make it as a seed of somewhat in time to come; and if he can contrive no effect or substance from it, yet to win some good opinion by it, or the like. So that he should exact an account of himself of every action, to reap somewhat, and not to stand amazed and confused if he fail of that he chiefly meant: for nothing is more impolitic than to mind actions wholly one by one; for he that doth so, loseth infinite occasions which intervene, and are many times more proper and propitious for somewhat that he shall need afterwards, than for that which he urgeth for the present; and therefore men must be perfect in that rule, Hæc oportet facere, et illa non omittere.
Another precept of this knowledge is, not to engage a man's self peremptorily in any thing, though it seem not liable to accident, but ever to have a window to fly out at, or a way to retire; following the wisdom in the ancient fable of the two frogs, which consulted when their plash was dry whither they should go, and the one moved to go down into a pit, because it was not likely the water would dry there, but the other answered, "True, but if it do, how shall we get out again?"
Another precept of this knowledge is, that ancient precept of Bias, construed not to any point of perfidiousness, but only to caution and moderation, Et ama tanquam inimicus futurus, et odi tanquam amaturus: for it utterly betrayeth all utility, for men to embark themselves too far into unfortunate friendships, troublesome spleens, and childish and humorous envies or emulations.
But I continue this beyond the measure of an example, led, because I would not have such knowledges, which I note as deficient, to be thought things imaginative, or in the air; or an observation or two much made of, but things of bulk and mass, whereof an end is hardlier made than a beginning. It must be likewise conceived that in those points which I mention and set down, they are far from complete
tractates of them, but only as small pieces for patterns and lastly, no man, I suppose, will think that I mean fortunes are not obtained without all this ado; for I know they come tumbling into some mens laps, and a number obtain good fortunes by diligence in a plain way, little intermeddling, and keeping themselves from gross errors.
But as Cicero, when he setteth down an idea of a perfect orator, doth not mean that every pleader should be such; and so likewise, when a prince or a courtier hath been described by such as have handled those subjects, the mould hath used to be made according to the perfection of the art, and not according to common practice: so I understand it, that it ought to be done in the description of a politic man, I mean politic for his own fortune.
But it must be remembered all this while, that the precepts which we have set down are of that kind which may be counted and called bona artes. As for evil arts, if a man would set down for himself that principle of Machiavel; " that a man seek not "to attain virtue itself, but the appearance only "thereof; because the credit of virtue is a help, but "the use of it is cumber:" or that other of his principles; "that he presuppose that men are not fitly to "be wrought otherwise but by fear, and therefore "that he seek to have every man obnoxious, low, " and in strait," which the Italians call seminar spine, to sow thorns or that other principle contained in the verse which Cicero citeth, Cadant amici,dummodo inimici intercidant, as the Triumvirs, which sold, every one to other, the lives of their friends, for the deaths of their enemies: or that other protestation of L. Catilina, to set on fire, and trouble states, to the end to fish in droumy waters, and to unwrap their fortunes, Ego si quid in fortunis meis excitatum sit incendium, id non aqua, sed ruina restinguam: or that other principle of Lysander, "that children are to be "deceived with comfits, and men with oaths:" and the like evil and corrupt positions, whereof, as in all things, there are more in number than of the good:
certainly, with these dispensations from the laws of charity and integrity, the pressing of a man's fortune may be more hasty and compendious. But it is in life, as it is in ways, the shortest way is commonly the foulest, and surely the fairer way is not much about.
But men, if they be in their own power, and do bear and sustain themselves, and be not carried away with a whirlwind or tempest of ambition, ought, in the pursuit of their own fortune, to set before their eyes, not only that general map of the world, that all things are vanity and vexation of spirit, but many other more particular cards and directions: chiefly that, that being, without well-being, is a curse, and the greater being the greater curse; and that all virtue is most rewarded, and all wickedness most punished in itself: according as the poet saith excellently:
Quæ vobis, quæ digna, viri, pro laudibus istis Præmia posse rear solvi? pulcherrima primum Dii moresque dabunt vestri.
And so of the contrary. And, secondly, they ought to look up to the eternal providence and divine judgment, which often subverteth the wisdom of evil plots and imaginations, according to that Scripture, He hath conceived mischief, and shall bring forth a vain thing. And although men should refrain themselves from injury and evil arts, yet this incessant and sabbathless pursuit of a man's fortune leaveth not that tribute which we owe to God of our time: who, we see, demandeth a tenth of our substance, and a seventh, which is more strict, of our time: and it is to small purpose to have an erected face towards heaven, and a perpetual groveling spirit upon earth, eating dust, as doth the serpent, Atque affigit humo divinæ particulam auræ. And if any man flatter himself that he will employ his fortune well, though he should obtain it ill, as was said concerning Augustus Cæsar, and after of Septimius Severus, "that either they should never have been born, or else they "should never have died," they did so much mischief