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consideration of their magnitude and nature: "Fraus sibi in parvis fidem præstruit, ut majore emolumento fallat:" and the Italian thinketh himself upon the point to be bought and sold, when he is better used than he was wont to be, without manifest cause. For small favours, they do but lull men asleep, both as to caution and as to industry; and are, as Demosthenes calleth them, "Alimenta socordiæ." So again we see how false the nature of some deeds are, in that particular which Mutianus practised upon Antonius Primus, upon that hollow and unfaithful reconcilement which was made between them: whereupon Mutianus advanced many of the friends of Antonius: "simul amicis ejus præfecturas et tribunatus largitur:""3 wherein, under pretence to strengthen him, he did desolate him, and won from him his dependences.

As for words, though they be like waters to physicians, full of flattery and uncertainty, yet they are not to be despised, especially with the advantage of passion and affection. For so we see Tiberius, upon a stinging and incensing speech of Agrippina, came a step forth of his dissimulation, when he said, "You are hurt because you do not reign;" of which Tacitus saith, "Audita hæc raram occulti pectoris vocem elicuere; correptamque Græco versu admonuit, ideo lædi, quia non regnaret.' "And therefore the poet doth elegantly call passions tortures, that urge men to confess their secrets :

"Vino tortus et ira."'5

And experience showeth there are few men so true to themselves and so settled, but that, sometimes upon heat, sometimes upon bravery, sometimes upon kindness, sometimes upon trouble of mind and weakness, they open themselves; especially if they be put to it with a counter-dissimulation, according to

1 Fraud gains confidence by honesty in small matters, that it may deceive in greater. 2 The aliment of sloth.

3 At the same time he bestows governments and offices on his friends.

4 These words drew a reply from his secret soul, and he reproved her with the Greek verse, that she was hurt because she did not reign.

5 Tried by wine and anger.

the proverb of Spain, "Di mentira, y sacaras verdad" (Tell a lie and find a truth).

As for the knowing of men, which is at second hand from reports; men's weaknesses and faults are best known from their enemies, their virtues and abilities from their friends, their customs and times from their servants, their conceits and opinions from their familiar friends, with whom they discourse most. General fame is light, and the opinions conceived by superiors or equals are deceitful; for to such, men are more masked: "Verior fama e domesticis emanat."G

But the soundest disclosing and expounding of men is by their natures and ends, wherein the weakest sort of men are best interpreted by their natures, and the wisest by their ends. For it was both pleasantly and wisely said, though I think very untruly, by a nuncio of the pope, returning from a certain nation where he served as lieger; whose opinion being asked touching the appointment of one to go in his place, he wished that in any case they did not send one that was too wise; because no very wise man would ever imagine what they in that country were like to do. And certainly it is an error frequent for men to shoot over, and to suppose deeper ends and more compass-reaches than are: the Italian proverb being elegant, and for the most part true:

"Di danari, di senno, e di fede,

C'e ne manco che non credi."

(There is commonly less money, less wisdom, and less good faith than men do account upon).

But princes, upon a far other reason, are best interpreted by their natures, and private persons by their ends; for princes being at the top of human desires, they have for the most part no particular ends whereto they aspire, by distance from which a man might take measure and scale of the rest of their actions and desires; which is one of the causes that maketh their hearts more inscrutable. Neither is it sufficient to inform ourselves, in men's ends and natures, of the variety of them only, but also of the predominancy, what humour reigneth most,

6 Character is best known from servants.

and what end is principally sought. For so we see, when Tigellinus saw himself outstripped by Petronius Turpilianus in Nero's humours of pleasures, "metus ejus rimatur "1 (he wrought upon Nero's fears), whereby he brake the other's neck.

But to all this part of inquiry the most compendious way resteth in three things: the first, to have general acquaintance and inwardness with those which have general acquaintance and look most into the world; and especially according to the diversity of business, and the diversity of persons, to have privacy and conversation with some one friend, at least, which is perfect and well intelligenced in every several kind. The second is, to keep a good mediocrity in liberty of speech and secrecy; in most things liberty: secrecy where it importeth; for liberty of speech inviteth and provoketh liberty to be used again, and so bringeth much to a man's knowledge; and secrecy, on the other side, induceth trust and inwardness. The last is, the reducing of a man's self to this watchful and serene habit, as to make account and purpose, in every conference and action, as well to observe as to act. For as Epictetus would have a philosopher in every particular action to say to himself, "Et hoc volo, et etiam institutum servare;" so a politic man in everything should say to himself, "Et hoc volo, ac etiam aliquid addiscere." I have stayed the longer upon this precept of obtaining good information, because it is a main part by itself, which answereth to all the rest. But, above all things, caution must be taken that men have a good stay and hold of themselves, and that this much knowledge do not draw on much meddling; for nothing is more unfortunate than light and rash intermeddling in many matters. So that this variety of knowledge tendeth in conclusion but only to this, to make a better and freer choice of those actions which may concern us, and to conduct them with the less error and the more dexterity.

The second precept concerning this know

1 He scrutinizes his fears.

2 I wish to hold my purpose.

3 I wish to learn something additional.

ledge is, for men to take good information touching their own person, and well to understand themselves: knowing that, as St. James saith, though men look oft in a glass, yet they do suddenly forget themselves; wherein as the divine glass is the word of God, so the politic glass is the state of the world, or times wherein we live, in the which we are to behold ourselves.

For men ought to take an impartial view of their own abilities and virtues; and again of their wants and impediments; accounting these with the most, and those other with the least; and from this view and examination to frame the considerations following:

First, to consider how the constitution of their nature sorteth with the general state of the times; which if they find agreeable and fit, then in all things to give themselves more scope and liberty; but if differing and dissonant, then in the whole course of their life to be more close, retired, and reserved: as we see in Tiberius, who was never seen at a play, and came not into the senate in twelve of his last years; whereas Augustus Cæsar lived ever in men's eyes, which Tacitus observeth "Alia Tiberio morum via."4

Secondly, to consider how their nature sorteth with professions and courses of life, and accordingly to make election, if they be free; and, if engaged, to make the departure at the first opportunity: as we see was done by Duke Valentine, that was designed by his father to a sacerdotal profession, but quitted it soon after in regard of his parts and inclina tion; being such, nevertheless, as a man cannot tell well whether they were worse for a prince or for a priest.

Thirdly, to consider how they sort with those whom they are like to have competitors and concurrents; and to take that course wherein there is most solitude, and themselves like to be most eminent: as Julius Cæsar did, who at first was an orator or pleader; but when he saw the excellency of Cicero, Hortensius, Catulus, and others, for eloquence, and saw there was no man of reputation for the wars but Pompeius, upon whom the state was forced to rely, he forsook his course begun

4 Tiberius had a different rule of conduct.

toward a civil and popular greatness, and transferred his designs to a martial greatness.

Fourthly, in the choice of their friends and dependences, to proceed according to the composition of their own nature: as we may see in Cæsar; all whose friends and followers were men active and effectual, but not solemn, or of reputation.

Fifthly, to take special heed how they guide themselves by examples, in thinking they can do as they see others do; whereas, perhaps their natures and carriages are far differing. In which error it seemeth Pompey was, of whom Cicero saith that he was wont often to say, "Sylla potuit, ego non potero?"1 Wherein he was much abused, the natures and proceedings of himself and his example being the unlikest in the world; the one being fierce, violent, and pressing the fact; the other solemn, and full of majesty and circumstance, and therefore the less effectual.

But this precept touching the politic knowledge of ourselves hath many other branches, whereupon we cannot insist.

Next to the well understanding and discerning of a man's self, there followeth the well opening and revealing a man's self; wherein we see nothing more usual than for the more able man to make the less show. For there is a great advantage in the well setting forth of a man's virtues, fortunes, merits; and again, in the artificial covering of a man's weaknesses, defects, disgraces; staying upon the one, sliding from the other; cherishing the one by circumstances, gracing the other by exposition, and the like: wherein we see what Tacitus saith of Mutianus, who was the greatest politician of his time, "Omnium quæ dixerat feceratque arte quâdam ostentator:"2 which requireth indeed some art, lest it turn tedious and arrogant; but yet so as ostentation, though it be to the first degree of vanity, seemeth to me rather a vice in manners than in policy: for as it is said, "Audacter calumniare, semper aliquid hæret:"3 so, except it be in a ridiculous degree of de

1 Sylla could do so, and shall not I?

2 He had the art of making a great display in everything he said or did.

Calumniate holdly, some of the reproach will remain. Or, in the English proverb, "Throw dirt enough, and some of it will stick."

formity, "Audacter te vendita, semper aliquid hæret."4 For it will stick with the more ignorant and inferior sort of men, though men of wisdom and rank do smile at it and despise it; and yet the authority won with many doth countervail the disdain of a few. But if it be carried with decency and government, as with a natural, pleasant, and ingenious fashion; or at times when it is mixed with some peril and unsafety, as in military persons; or at times when others are most envied; or with easy and careless passage to it and from it, without dwelling too long or being too serious; or with an equal freedom of taxing a man's self, as well as gracing himself; or by occasion of repelling or putting down others' injury or insolence; it doth greatly add to reputation: and surely not a few solid natures, that want this ventosity, and cannot sail in the height of the winds, are not without some prejudice and disadvantage by their moderation.

But for these flourishes and enhancements of virtue, as they are not perchance unnecessary, so it is at least necessary that virtue be not disvalued and imbased under the just price; which is done in three manners: by offering and obtruding a man's self, wherein men think he is rewarded, when he is accepted; by doing too much, which will not give that which is well done leave to settle, and in the end induceth satiety; and by finding too soon the fruit of a man's virtue, in commendation, applause, honour, favour; wherein if a man be pleased with a little, let him hear what is truly said; "Cave ne insuetus rebus majoribus videaris, si hæc te res parva sicuti magna delectat."

But the covering of defects is of no less importance than the valuing of good parts; which may be done likewise in three manners, by caution, by colour, and by confidence. Caution is when men do ingeniously and discreetly avoid to be put into those things for which they are not proper: whereas, contrariwise, bold and unquiet spirits will thrust themselves into matters without difference, and so publish and proclaim all their wants.

4 Boast boldly, and something will stick.

5 Beware lest you seem unaccustomed to greater things, if so small a matter affords you such great delight.


Colour is, when men make a way for themselves, to have a construction made of their faults or wants, as proceeding from a better cause, or intended for some other purpose: for of the one it is well said, "Sæpe latet vitium proximitate boni," and therefore, whatsoever want a man hath, he must see that he pretend the virtue that shadoweth it; as, if he be dull, he must affect gravity; if a coward, mildness; and so the rest: for the second, a man must frame some probable cause why he should not do his best, and why he should dissemble his abilities; and for that purpose must use to dissemble those abilities which are notorious in him, to give colour that his true wants are but industries and dissimulations. For confidence, it is the last but surest remedy; namely, to depress and seem to despise whatsoever a man cannot attain ; observing the good principle of the merchants, who endeavour to raise the price of their own commodities, and to beat down the price of others. But there is a confidence that passeth this other; which is, to face out a man's own defects, in seeming to conceive that he is best in those things wherein he is failing: and, to help that again, to seem on the other side that he hath least opinion of himself in those things wherein he is best: like as we shall see it commonly in poets, that if they show their verses, and you except to any, they will say that that line cost them more labour than any of the rest; and presently will seem to disable and suspect rather some other line, which they know well enough to be the best in the number. But above all, in this righting and helping of a man's self in his own carriage, he must take heed he show not himself dismantled, and exposed to scorn and injury, by too much dulceness, goodness, and facility of nature; but show some sparkles of liberty, spirit, and edge: which kind of fortified carriage, with a ready rescuing of a man's self from scorns, is sometimes of necessity imposed upon men by somewhat in their person or fortune; but it ever succeedeth with good felicity.

Another precept of this knowledge is, by all possible endeavour to frame the mind to be pliant and obedient to occasion; for

1 Vice often lurks close to virtue.

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nothing hindereth men's fortunes so much as this: "Idem manebat, neque idem decebat," men are where they were, when occasions turn: and therefore to Cato, whom Livy maketh such an architect of fortune, he addeth, that he had "versatile ingenium." And thereof it cometh that these grave solemn wits, which must be like themselves, and cannot make departures, have more dignity than felicity. But in some it is nature to be somewhat vicious and inwrapped, and not easy to turn; in some it is a conceit, that is almost a nature, which is, that men can hardly make themselves believe that they ought to change their course, when they have found good by it in former experience. For Machiavel noted wisely how Fabius Maximus would have been temporising still, according to his old bias, when the nature of the war was altered and required hot pursuit. In some other it is want of point and penetration in their judgment, that they do not discern when things have a period, but come in too late after the occasion; as Demosthenes compareth the people of Athens to country fellows, when they play in a fence-school, that if they have a blow then they remove their weapon to that ward, and not before. In some other it is a loathness to lose labours passed, and a conceit that they can bring about occasions to their ply; and yet in the end, when they see no other remedy, then they come to it with disadvantage; as Tarquinius, that gave for the third part of Sibylla's books the treble price, when he might at first have had all three for the simple. But from whatsoever root or cause this restiveness of mind proceedeth, it is a thing most prejudicial; and nothing is more politic than to make the wheels of our mind concentric and voluble with the wheels of fortune.

Another precept of this knowledge, which hath some affinity with that we last spake of, but with difference, is that which is well expressed, "Fatis accede Deisque," that men do not only turn with the occasions, but also run with the occasions, and not strain their credit or strength to over hard or extreme

2 The same habits continued when they were no longer becoming.

3 A versatile genius.

4 Yield to Fate and the Gods.

points; but choose in their actions that which is most passable: for this will preserve men from foil, not occupy them too much about one matter, win opinion of moderation, please the most, and make a show of a perpetual felicity in all they undertake; which cannot but mightily increase reputation.

Another part of this knowledge seemeth to have some repugnancy with the former two, but not as I understand it; and it is that which Demosthenes uttereth in high terms; "Et quemadmodum receptum est, ut exercitum ducat imperator, sic et a cordatis viris res ipsæ ducendæ; ut quæ ipsis videntur, ea gerantur, et non ipsi eventus tantum persequi cogantur." For, if we observe, we shall find two differing kinds of sufficiency in managing of business some can make use of occasions aptly and dexterously, but plot little; some can urge and pursue their own plots well, but cannot accommodate nor take in; either of which is very imperfect without the other.


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Another part of this knowledge is the observing a good mediocrity in the declaring or not declaring a man's self: for although depth of secrecy and making way, "qualis est via navis in mari," (which the French calleth "sourdes menées," when men set things in work without opening themselves at all,) be sometimes both prosperous and admirable; yet many times Dissimulatio errores parit, qui dissimulatorem ipsum illaqueant; and, therefore, we see the greatest politicians have in a natural and free manner professed their desires, rather than been reserved and disguised in them: for so we see that Lucius Sylla made a kind of profession "that he wished all men happy or unhappy as they stood his friends or enemies." So Cæsar, when he went first into Gaul, made no scruple to profess "that he had rather be first in a village than second at Rome." So again, as soon as he had begun the war, we see what Cicero saith of him, "Alter (meaning of Cæsar) non recusat, sed quodammodo pos

1 And as a general leads an army, so must events be guided by the wise, so that the results which they desire may be attained, and that they should not be forced to be directed by circumstances.

2 Like the way of a ship in the sea.

3 Deceit begets errors which entrap the deceiver.


tulat, ut, ut est, sic appelletur tyrannus.' "4 So we may see, in a letter of Cicero to Atticus, that Augustus Cæsar, in his very entrance into affairs, when he was a darling of the senate, yet in his harangues to the people would swear, "Ita parentis honores consequi liceat," which was no less than the tyranny; save that, to help it, he would stretch forth his hand towards a statue of Cæsar's that was erected in the place: whereat many men laughed, and wondered, and said, "Is it possible?" or, "Did you ever hear the like to this?" and yet thought he meant no hurt; he did it so handsomely and ingenuously. And all these were prosperous: whereas Pompey, who tended to the same end, but in a more dark and dissembling manner, as Tacitus saith of him, "Occultior, non melior," wherein Sallust concurreth, "ore probo, animo inverecundo," made it his design, by infinite secret engines, to cast the state into an absolute anarchy and confusion, that the state might cast itself into his arms for necessity and protection, and so the sovereign power be put upon him, and he never seen in it: and when he had brought it, as he thought, to that point, when he was chosen consul alone, as never any was, yet he could make no great matter of it, because men understood him not; but was fain, in the end, to go the beaten track of getting arms into his hands, by colour of the doubt of Cæsar's designs: so tedious, casual, and unfortunate are these deep dissimulations: whereof, it seemeth, Tacitus made his judgment, that they were a cunning of an inferior form in regard of true policy; attributing the one to Augustus, the other to Tiberius; where, speaking of Livia, he saith, "Et cum artibus mariti simulatione filii bene composita: for surely the continual habit of dissimulation is but a weak and sluggish cunning, and not greatly politic.

Another precept of this architecture of

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