Page images

such as to my understanding offer no violence to the sense, though I know they may be applied to a more divine use: but it is allowed, even in divinity, that some interpretations, yea and some writings, have more of the eagle than others; but taking them as instructions for life, they might have received large discourse, if I would have broken them and illustrated them by deducements and examples.

Neither was this in use only with the Hebrews, but it is generally to be found in the wisdom of the more ancient times; that as men found out any observation that they thought was good for life, they would gather it, and express it in parable, or aphorism, or fable. But for fables, they were vicegerents and supplies where examples failed: now that the times abound with history, the aim is better when the mark is alive. And therefore the form of writing which of all others is fittest for this variable argument of negotiation and occasion is that which Machiavel chose wisely and aptly for government; namely, discourse upon histories or examples for knowledge drawn freshly, and in our view, out of particulars, knoweth the way best to particulars again; and it hath much greater life for practice when the discourse attendeth upon the example, than when the example attendeth upon the discourse. For this is no point of order, as it seemeth at first, but of substance; for when the example is the ground, being set down in an history at large, it is set down with all circumstances,


which may sometimes control the discourse thereupon made, and sometimes supply it as a very pattern for action; whereas the examples alleged for the discourse's sake are cited succinctly, and without particularity, and carry a servile aspect toward the discourse which they are brought in to make good.

But this difference is not amiss to be remembered, that as history of times is the best ground for discourse of government, such as Machiavel handleth, so history of lives is the most proper for discourse of business, because it is most conversant in private actions. Nay, there is a ground of discourse for this purpose fitter than them both, which is discourse upon letters, such as are wise and weighty, as many are of Cicero ad Atticum, and others. For letters have a great and more particular representation of business than either chronicles or lives. Thus have we spoken both of the matter and form of this part of civil knowledge, touching Negotiation, which we note to be deficient.

But yet there is another part of this part, which differeth as much from that whereof we have spoken

"sapere," and "sibi sapere," the one moving as it were to the circumference, the other to the centre For there is a wisdom of counsel, and again there is a wisdom of pressing a man's own fortune; and they do sometimes meet, and often sever; for many are wise in their own ways that are weak for government or counsel; like ants, which are wise


creatures for themselves, but very hurtful for the garden. This wisdom the Romans did take much knowledge of: "Nam pol sapiens," saith the comical poet, fingit fortunam sibi ;" and it grew to an adage, Faber quisque fortunæ propriæ ;" and Livy attributeth it to Cato the first, "in hoc viro "tanta vis animi et ingenii inerat, ut quocunque "loco natus esset, sibi ipse fortunam facturus vide"retur."

This conceit or position, if it be too much declared and professed, hath been thought a thing impolitic and unlucky, as was observed in Timotheus the Athenian; who having done many great services to the estate in his government, and giving an account thereof to the people, as the manner was, did conclude every particular with this clause," and "in this fortune had no part. And it came so to pass that he never prospered in any thing he took in hand afterwards: for this is too high and too arrogant, savouring of that which Ezekiel saith of Pharaoh, "Dicis, Fluvius est meus, et ego feci "memet ipsum; or of that which another prophet speaketh, that men offer sacrifices to their nets and snares; and that which the poet expresseth,

"Dextra mihi Deus, et telum quod missile libro,
"Nunc adsint!"

for these confidences were ever unhallowed, and unblessed and therefore those that were great politicians indeed ever ascribed their successes to their felicity, and not to their skill or virtue. For

so Sylla surnamed himself "Felix," not " Magnus:" so Cæsar said to the master of the ship, "Cæsarem portas et fortunam ejus."

[ocr errors]


But yet nevertheless these positions, "Faber quisque fortunæ suæ: Sapiens dominabitur astris : "Invia virtuti nulla est via," and the like, being taken and used as spurs to industry, and not as stirrups to insolency, rather for resolution than for presumption or outward declaration, have been ever thought sound and good; and are, no question, imprinted in the greatest minds, who are so sensible of this opinion, as they can scarce contain it within: as we see in Augustus Cæsar, (who was rather diverse from his uncle, than inferior in virtue,) how when he died, he desired his friends about him to give him a Plaudite, as if he were conscious to himself that he had played his part well upon the stage. This part of knowledge we do report also as deficient not but that it is practised too much, but it hath not been reduced to writing. And therefore lest it should seem to any that it is not comprehensible by axiom, it is requisite, as we did in the former, that we set down some heads or passages of it.

Wherein it may appear at the first a new and unwonted argument to teach men how to raise and make their fortune; a doctrine wherein every man perchance will be ready to yield himself a disciple, till he seeth difficulty: for fortune layeth as heavy impositions as virtue; and it is as hard and severe a thing to be a true politician, as to be truly moral.

But the handling hereof concerneth learning greatly, both in honour and in substance: in honour, because pragmatical men may not go away with an opinion that learning is like a lark, that can mount, and sing, and please herself, and nothing else; but may know that she holdeth as well of the hawk, that can soar aloft, and can also descend and strike upon the prey in substance, because it is the perfect law of inquiry of truth, "that nothing be in the globe of "matter, which should not be likewise in the globe "of chrystal, or form;" that is that there be not any thing in being and action, which should not be drawn and collected into contemplation and doctrine. Neither doth learning admire or esteem of this architecture of fortune, otherwise than as of an inferior work: for no man's fortune can be an end worthy of his being; and many times the worthiest men do abandon their fortune willingly for better respects: but nevertheless fortune, as an organ of virtue and merit, deserveth the consideration.

First therefore, the precept which I conceive to be most summary towards the prevailing in fortune, is to obtain that window which Momus did require : who seeing in the frame of man's heart such angles and recesses, found fault that there was not a window to look into them; that is, to procure good informations of particulars touching persons, their natures, their desires and ends, their customs and fashions, their helps and advantages, and whereby they chiefly stand: so again their weaknesses and

« PreviousContinue »