Quotes of Francis Bacon

 

The entrance into the Kingdom of man, founded on the sciences, being not much other than the entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven, where into none may enter except as a little child.-Novum Organum

It is a pleasure to stand upon the shore, and to see ships lost upon the sea: A pleasure to stand in the window of a Castle, and to see a Battaile, and the Adventures thereof, below: But no pleasure is comparable, to the standing , upon the vantage ground of Truth......

Overt and apparent virtues bring forth praise; but there be secret and hidden virtues that bring forth fortune; certain deliveries of a man's self, which have no name.

Knowledge is power. {Nam et ipsa scientia potestas est} Meditationes Sacrae 1597.

If we do not maintain Justice, Justice will not maintain us.

Men in great place are thrice servants: servants of the sovereign or state; servants of fame; and servants of business. --Francis Bacon 's Essays Or Counsels - Civil And Moral

Overt and apparent virtues bring forth praise; but there be secret and hidden virtues that bring forth fortune; certain deliveries of a man's self, which have no name.

Letter to the Duke of Buckingham :
June 8th, 1617

My Very Good Lord,--This day I have made even with the business of the kingdom for common justice. Not one cause unheard. The lawyers drawn dry of all the motions they were to make. Not one petition unanswered. And this, I think, could not be said in our age before. This I speak not out of ostentation, but out of gladness when I have done my duty. I know men think I cannot continue if I should thus oppress myself of business. But that account is made. The duties of life are more than life. And if I die now I shall die before the world be weary of me, which in our times is somewhat rare.
{Bacon in his first four terms in the Court of Chancery made 8,798 orders and decrees, and freed more than 35,000 suitors in his court from the law's uncertainty. One of his sayings was,"Fresh justice is sweetist." Scarcely one of Bacon's decisions was ever reversed.}

The law of nature teaches me to speak in my own defence. If, however, it is absolutely necessary the King's Will shall be obeyed. I am ready to make an Oblation of myself to the King in whose hands I am as clay to be made a vessel of honour or dishonour.

I was the justest judge, that was in England these last fifty years. When the book of all hearts is opened, I trust I shall not be found to have the troubled fountain of a corrupt heart. I know I have clean hands and a clean heart. I am as innocent of bribes as any born on St. Innocents Day. ( Bacon commenting on his impeachment as Chancellor in which he was forced to plead guilty to bribery charges in order to save King James from a political scandal)

If a man look sharply and attentively, he shall see Fortune; for though she is blind, she is not invisible.--Essays OF Fortune {Fortune is painted blind, with a muffler afore her eyes, to signify to you that Fortune is blind.--Shakespeare, Henry V, act III, sc.vi,}

The justest division of human learning is that derived from the three faculties of the the soul, the seat of learning: History being relative to the memory, poetry to the imagination, and philosophy to the reason.

Man is the helper and interpreter of nature. He can only act and understand in so far as by working upon her or observing her he has come to perceive her order. Beyond this he has neither knowledge nor power. For there is no strength that can break the causal chain: Nature cannot be conquered but by obeying her. Accordingly those twin goals, human science and human power, come in the end to one. To be ignorant of causes is to be frustrated in action.

Lastly, I would address one general admonition to all; that they consider what are the true ends of knowledge, and that they seek it not either for pleasure of the mind, or for contention, or for superiority to others, or for profit, or fame, or power, or any of these inferior things; but for the benefit and use of Life; and that they perfect and govern it in charity. --General Preface to the Great Instauration

But such is the infelicity and unhappy diposition of the Human Mind in the course of invention that it first distrusts and then despises itself. First will not believe that any such thing can be found out; and when it is found out cannot understand how the world should have missed it for so long. - from Part II of Lord Bacon's Instauration Magma 1620

For there is nothing so subtle and abtruse, but when it is once thorougly understood and published to the world, even a dull wit can carry it.- Wisdome of the Ancients 1609

Poetry is as a dream of learning, a thing sweet and varied, and that would be thought to have in it something divine, a character which dreams likewise affect . But now it is time for me to awake, and rising above the earth, to wing my way through the clear air of philosophy and the sciences.-- De Augmentis - 1623

Those who aspire not to guess and divine, but to discover and know, who propose not to devise mimic and fabulous worlds of their own, but to examine and dissect the nature of this very world itself, must go to facts themselves for everything. 1620

He that cometh to seek after knowledge, with a mind to scorn, shall be sure to find matter for his humour, but no matter for his instruction. Advancement of Learning, Book I(1605)

As touching the explication of Mysteries, we see that God vouchsafeth to descend to the weakness of our capacity, so expressing and unfolding His Mysteries as they may be best comprehended by us; and inoculate, as it were, His Revelations upon the conceptions and notions of our Reason; and so applying His inspirations to open our understandings, as the form of the key is fitted to the ward of the lock. In which respect notwithstanding, we ought not to be wanting to our selves; for seeing God makes use of the faculty and function of Reason in His Illuminations, we ought also every way to employ and improve the same, whereby we may become more capable to receive and draw in such Holy Mysteries: with this caution, that the mind for its module be dilated to the amplitude of the Mysteries, and not the Mysteries be girt into the small compass of the mind. Advancement of Learning, Book I (1605)

If a man will begin with certainties, he will end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he will end in certainties.

There are and can be only two ways of searching into and discovering truth. The one flies from the senses and particulars to the most general axioms, and from these principles, the truth of which it takes for settled and immovable, proceeds to judgment and middle axioms. And this way is now in fashion. The other derives axioms from the senses and particulars, rising by a gradual and unbroken ascent, so that it arrives at the most general axioms last of all. This is the true way, but as yet untried. (The New Organon, aphorism 19)

It is an immense ocean that surrounds the island of Truth.

The contemplation of things as they are without error without or confusion without substitution or imposture is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of inventions.

Nevertheless it is important to understand how the present is like a seer with two faces, one looking toward the future, and the other towards the past. Accordingly I have decided to prepare for your instruction tables of both ages, containing not only the past course and progress of science, but also anticipation of things to come. The nature of these tables you could not conjecture before you see them. A genuine anticipation of them is beyond your scope, nor would you be aware of the lack of it unless it was put in your hands. It is a compliment reserved to some of the choicer spirits among you whom I hope to win thereby. But generally speaking science is to be sought from the light of nature, not from the darkness of antiquity.- from the "Masculine Birth of Time"

Read not to contradict and confute,nor to believe and take for granted, nor to find talk and discourse but to weigh and consider.

For myself, I found that I was fitted for nothing so well as for the study of truth; as having a Mind nimble and versatile enough to catch the Resemblances of Things (which is the chief point) and at the same time steady enough to fix and distinguish their Subtler Differences; as being gifted by Nature with Desire to seek, patience to Doubt, fondness to Meditate, slowness to assert, readiness to consider, carefulness to dispose and set in order; and as being a man that neither affects what is new nor admires what is old, and that hates every kind of Imposture. So I thought my Nature had a kind of familiarity and Relationship with Truth. On the Interpretation of Nature 1603-4

Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man.

Crafty men condemn studies, simple men admire them; and wise men use them.

. . . the nature of things betrays itself more readily under the vexations of art than in its natural freedom. (1620)

When you wander, as you often delight to do, you wander indeed, and give never such satisfaction as the curious time requires. This is not caused by any natural defect, but first for want of election, when you, having a large and fruitful mind, should not so much labour what to speak as to find what to leave unspoken. Rich soils are often to be weeded. --Letter of Expostulation to Edward Coke.

To write at leisure what is to be read at leisure does not interest me. My concern is with life and human affairs and all their troubles and difficulties. It is these I wish to improve by true and wholesome thoughts.
--Letter to Casaubon, 1609.

I have though in a despised weed procured the good of all men.-Bacon's Prayer
(weed, Bacon tells us is a cloak to hide a man's identity; it could refer to his possible role as a playwright, And keep invention in a noted weed, that every word doth almost fel my name-- Sonnet 76)

About the same time I remember an answer of mine in a matter which had some affinity with my Lord's cause, which though it grew from me, went after about in other's names. For her Majesty being mightily incensed with that book which was dedicated to my Lord of Essex, being a story of the first year of King Henry the fourth, thinking it a seditious prelude to put into the people's heads boldness and faction, said she had good opinion that there was treason in it and asked me if I could not find any places in it that might be drawn within the case of treason: whereto I answered : for treason surely if found none, but for felony (plagiarism) very many. ---Apologie in Certaine Imputations concerning the Late Earle of Essex (found in The Letters and the Life of Francis Bacon, Spedding)

With respect to this charge of bribery I am as innocent as any born upon St. Innocent's Day. I never had bribe or reward in my eye or thoughts when pronouncing sentence or order.

I have taken all knowledge to be my province.

My story is proud...The entry of truth with chalk to mark those minds which are capable to lodge and harbour it.

Whether it be curiosity, or vain glory, or nature, Philanthropy is so fixed in my mind as it cannot be removed.

That men ought to know that in the theatre of human life it only for Gods and angels to be spectators. -Adv. of Learning

The desire of power in excess caused the angels to fall; the desire of knowledge in excess caused man to fall; but in charity there is no excess; neither can angel or man come in danger by it.

It is the glory of God is to conceal a thing; but the honor of Kings is to search out a matter.
--Proverbs 25,2 (a favorite quotation of Sir Francis Bacon's).

If we labor in thy works with the sweat of our brows thou wilt make us partakers of thy vision and thy Sabbath. Humbly we pray that this mind may be steadfast in us, and that through these our hands, and the hands of others to whom thou shalt give the same spirit, thou wilt vouchsafe to endow the human family with new mercies. - from the "Plan of the Work"

But one thing is most admirable, which is, that this communicating of a man's self to his friend works two contrary effects, for it redoubleth joys, and cutteth griefs in halfs. For there is no man that imparteth his joys to his friend, but he joyeth the more; and no man that imparteth his griefs to his friend, but he grieveth the less.

Hidden truth comes to light by time.

The understanding left to itself, in a sober, patient and serious mind (especially if unhindered by received doctrines) tries sometimes to follow the second way, the right one, but does not get far. For the intellect alone, unregulated and unaided, is unequal to the task and quite unfitted to overcome the obscurity of things. Aphorism 46

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.- from his essay, "Of Truth"

Times glory is to calm contending Kings, to unmask falsehood, and bring truth to light.

As time which is the author of authors, be not deprived of his due, which is furthur and furthur to discover truth.

What is truth ? said jesting Pilate, and would not stay for an answer. But it is not only the difficulty and labour which men take in finding out of truth....that doth bring lies in favour but a natural, though corrupt love of the lie itself.

For by this unchargeable way, my lords, have I proposed to erect the academical fabric of this island's Solomon's House, modelled in my New Atlantis. And I can hope, my lords, that my midnight studies, to make our countries flourish and outvie European neighbors in mysterious and beneficent arts, have not so ungratefully effected your noble intellects, that you may delay or resist his Majesty's desires, and my humble petition in this benevolent, yea, magnificent affair; since your honorable posterities may be enriched thereby, and my ends are only to make the world my heir, and the learned fathers of my Solomon's House, the successive and sworn trustees in the dispensation of this great service, for God's glory, my prince's magnificence, this parliament's honor, our country's general good, and the propagation of my own memory.-----Speech made before Parliament

Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what he is not, a sense of humor to console him for what he is.

Light is God's first creature.

For all color is the broken image of light.

Tragedies and Comedies are made of one Alphabet.

For my name and memory, I leave it to foreign nations, and to mine own countrymen after some time be passed over.

Discovery sooner emerges from error than from confusion.

Divinity is the art of arts.

The end of our Foundation is the knowledge of Causes, and secret motion of Causes, and secret motions of things; and the enlarging of the bounds of Human Empire, to the effecting of all things possible.

Laws are made to guard the rights of the people, not to feed the lawyers. The laws should be read by all, known to all. Put them into shape, inform them with philosophy, reduce them in bulk, give them into every man's hand.

The monuments of Wit survive the monuments of power. The verses of a poet endure without a syllable lost, while States and Empires pass many periods. Let him (the poet) not think he shall descend : for he is now upon a hill as a ship is mounted upon the ridge of a wave : but that Hill of the Muses is above tempests, always clear and calm; a hill of the goodliest discovery, that man can have, being a prospect upon all the errors and wanderings of the present and former times. Yea, in some cliff it leadeth the eye beyond the horizon of time, and giveth no obscure divination of time to come.

I see you withdraw your favour from me, and now I have lost many friends for your sake: I shall lose you, too. You have put me like one of those that the Frenchmen call Enfans perdu...(lost children); so have you put me into matters of envy without Place or Strength. Francis Bacon to Queen Elizabeth, "Apologia"

For Queen Elizabeth, being a Prince of extreme caution, and yet one that loved admiration above safety, and knowing the declaration of a successor mought in point of safety be disputable, but in point of admiration and respect assuredly to her disadvantage, had from the beginning set it down for a maxim of estate, to impose a silence touching succession. Neither was it only reserved as a secret of estate, but restrained by severe laws, that no man should presume to give opinion or maintain argument touching the same; so though the evidence or right drew all the subjects of the land to think one thing, yet the fear of danger of law made no man privy to other's thought.-----Bacon from The Beginning of the History of Great Britain,first published in 1657 in Resuscitatio

Men believe what they prefer.

These we call Idols of the Theatre, for we account all invented systems of philosophy as so many stage-plays, representing scenic and fictitious worlds.......Nor in this do we comprehend only the universal philosophies, but all principles and axioms of Knowledge which have thrived on tradition, credulity and negligence........

Briefly I commend myself to your love, and to the well-using of my name.....as impressing a good conceit and opinion of me chiefly in the King (James I), of whose favour I make myself comfortable assurance, as otherwise in that Court......so desiring you to be good to concealed poets, I continue....(letter to his poet friend John Davies)

The souls of the living are the beauty of the world.

Money is like muck, best when it is spread out.

. . . the nature of things betrays itself more readily under the vexations of art than in its natural freedom. (1620)

The knowledge of man is as the waters, some descending from above and some springing from beneath, the one formed by the light of nature, the other by Divine.

Certainly it is agreeable to reason, that there are at least some light effluxions from spirit, when men are in presence one with another, as well as from body to body.

Our sorrows are our schoolmasters.

Nothing is terrible except fear itself.--De Augmentis Scientarum Book II,Fortitudo 1623.

For there are feigned chronicles, feigned lives, and feigned relations,-- in this, that it is either Narrative or Represenative, or Allusive. Narrative is a mere imitation of History. Dramatical or Representative is as it were, a visible History, for it sets out the image of things as if they were present, and History, as if they were passed.

Dramatic Poesy which has the theatre for its world, would be of excellent use if well directed. For the stage is capable of no small influence both of discipline and of corruption. .....in modern states play-acting is esteemed but as a toy, except when it is too satirical and biting, yet among the ancients it was used as a means of educating men's minds to virtue. It has been regarded by learned men and great philosophers as a kind of musician's bow by which mens minds may be played upon.

There is another use of Parabolical Poesy, opposite to the former, which tendeth to the folding up of those things the dignity whereof, deserves to be retired and distinguished, AS WITH A DRAWN CURTAIN. That is when the secrets and mysteries of Religion, Policy and Philosophy are veiled and invested with fables and parables. -Adv. of Learning, 1640

The stage is more beholding to love than the life of man. For as to the stage, love is ever a matter of Comedies , and now and then of tragedies . It is strange to note the excess of this passion; and how it braves the nature and value of things, that the speaking in a perpetual hyperbole is comely in nothing but love.

There be some whose lives are as if they perpetually played a part upon a stage, disguised to all others, open only to themselves.

It is a thing indeed{stage-playing}, if practiced professionally, of low repute, but if it be made a part of discipline, it is of excellent use. I mean stage playing, an art which strengthens the memory, regulates the tone and effect of the voice and pronunciation, teaches a decent carriage of the countenance and gesture, gives not a little assurance, and accustoms young men to bear being looked at.

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.

And certainly it is most true, and one of the great secrets of nature, that the minds of men are more open to impressions and affections when many are gathered together than when they are alone.

And since I have lost much time with this age, I would be glad, as God shall give me leave, to recover it with posterity.I have raised up a light in the obscurity of Philosophy which will be seen centuries after I am dead.

........my words require an Age, a whole Age perchance, to prove them, and many Ages to perfect them.

God is to be conceived as an eternally continuing Power of Thought, and, as such, the only essence, substance, or matter, the last power and cause of all Nature, a Divine Artist-Mind, eternally thinking, that is, creating, a Universe, being, in fact, no other than the order, operation, and Mind of Nature.

In God all knowledge is original.

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.

That beneath no small number of the fables of ancient poets there lay from the very beginning a mystery and an allegory.

I would rather believe all the fables of the Koran, all the fantastic stories of the Talmud, all the miracles of the scriptures of the world, than to believe that this Universe was without a soul.

My soul hath been a stranger in the course of my pilgrimage. Be merciful unto me, O Lord, for my savior's sake, and receive me into thy bosom, or guide me in thy ways.

.....by the intricate envelopings of the delivery, the profane vulgar may be removed form the secrets of the sciences, and they only admitted who had either acquired the interpretation of parables by tradition from their teachers, or, by the sharpness and subtlety of their own wits, could pierce the veil.

If we have spoken the truth, the voice of nature will cry it up, though the voice of man should cry it down.

Let great authors, therefore have their due, but so as not to defraud time which is the author of authors and the parent of truth.

So give authors their due , as you give time his due, which is to discover truth.

The truth of being, and the truth of knowing are all one.

Be so true to thyself, as thou be not false to others. --Essays, Of Wisdom for a Man's Self {This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man. Hamlet I, iii}

Neither the births nor the abortions of Time have been registered.

There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion.

The virtue of prosperity is temperance, the virue of adversity is fortitude. Prosperity is the blessing of the Old Testament, adversity is the blessing of the New, which carrieth the greater Benediction.

Prosperity is not without many fears and distastes, and Adversity is not without comforts and hopes. We see in needleworks and embroderies that it is more pleasing to have a lively work upon a sad and solemn ground than to have a dark and melancholy work upon a lightstone ground.

The nature of everything is best considered in the seed.

The world's a bubble, and the life of man less than a span.

It is reported by the ancients, that the ostrich layeth her eggs under sand, where the heat of the sun discloses them.

Beggars should not be choosers.

All is not gold that glisters.

Conscience is worth a thousand witnesses. 

But in regard to the rawness and unskillfulness of the hands through which they pass, the greatest matters are many times carried in the weakest ciphers.

God Almighty first planted a garden, and indeed it is the purest of human pleasures. It is the greatest refreshment of the spirit of man, without which buildings and palaces are but gross handiwork.

The gardens of the Muses keep the privelege of the golden age; they even flourish and are in league with Time. The monuments of wit survive the monuments of power; the verses of a poet endure without a syllable lost, while states and empires pass many periods. Let him not think he shall descend, for he is now upon a hill as a ship is mounted on the ridge of a wave; but that hill of the Muses is above tempests, always clear and calm, a hill of the goodliest discovery that man can have, being a prospect upon all the errors of wanderings of the present and former times.

I send you also a memorial of Queen Elizabeth......Of this, when you were here, I shewed you some model, though at that time me thought you were more willing to hear Julius Caesar that Queen Elizabeth commended. But this which I send is more full and hath more of the narrative. -- Letter to Tobie Matthew who was being sent a revised draft of the play 1609

Ability

Natural abilities are like natural plants; they need pruning by study.

Advice

There is as much difference between the counsel that a friend giveth, and that a man giveth himself, as there is between the counsel of a friend and of a flatterer. For there is no such flatterer as is a man's self.

Age and Aging

Men of age object too much, consult too long, adventure too little, repent too soon, and seldom drive business home to the full period, but content themselves with a mediocrity of success.

Atheism

It is true, that a little philosophy inclineth man's mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men's minds about to religion.

Bachelor

Certainly the best works, and of greatest merit for the public, have proceeded from the unmarried, or childless men.

Cheerfulness

To be free minded and cheerfully disposed at hours of meat and sleep and of exercise is one of the best precepts of long lasting.

Consistency

Look to make your course regular, that men may know beforehand what they may expect.

Creation

God's first creature, which was light.

Death and Dying

I do not believe that any man fears to be dead, but only the stroke of death.

Discretion

Discretion of speech is more than eloquence, and to speak agreeably to him with whom we deal is more than to speak in good words, or in good order.

Doubt

Philosophy when superficially studied, excites doubt, when thoroughly explored, it dispels it.

Facts

Men on their side must force themselves for a while to lay their notions by and begin to familiarize themselves with facts.

Fate

Fortune is like the market, where, many times, if you can stay a little, the price will fall.

Forgiveness

This is certain, that a man that studieth revenge keeps his wounds green, which otherwise would heal and do well.

History and Historians

Histories make men wise; poets, witty; the mathematics, subtle; natural philosophy, deep; moral, grave; logic and rhetoric, able to contend.

Humankind

Our humanity is a poor thing, except for the divinity that stirs within us.

Innovation

As the births of living creatures, at first, are ill-shapen: so are all Innovations, which are the births of time.

Knowledge

Knowledge and human power are synonymous.

Learning

Studies serve for delight, for ornaments, and for ability.

Love

For a crowd is not company; and faces are but a gallery of pictures; and talk but a tinkling cymbal, where there is no love.

Money

If money be not they servant, it will be thy master. The covetous man cannot so properly be said to possess wealth, as that may be said to possess him.

Opportunity

A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds.

Parents and Parenting

The joys of parents are secret, and so are their grieves and fears.

Poetry and Poets

The poets did well to conjoin music and medicine, because the office of medicine is but to tune the curious harp of man's body.

Prejudice

All colors will agree in the dark.

Prosperity

Prosperity discovers vice, adversity discovers virtue.

Questions

A prudent question is one-half of wisdom.

Revenge

Revenge is a kind of wild justice, which the more a man's nature runs to, the more ought law to weed it out.

Silence

Silence is the virtue of fools.

Studying

I would live to study, and not study to live.

Time and Time Management

To choose time is to save time.

Truth

It is a pleasure to stand upon the shore, and to see ships tost upon the sea: a pleasure to stand in the window of a castle, and to see a battle and the adventures thereof below: but no pleasure is comparable to standing upon the vantage ground of truth... and to see the errors, and wanderings, and mists, and tempests, in the vale below.

Wealth

The fortune which nobody sees makes a person happy and unenvied.

Youth

Young people are fitter to invent than to judge; fitter for execution than for counsel; and more fit for new projects than for settled business.

I leave my NAME to mine own countrymen after some time be past.- from Bacon's Will

For my name and memory, I leave it to men's charitable speeches, and to foreign nations, and the next ages--Last Will ( December 19th, 1625)

Dancing to song, is a thing of great state and pleasure.

A gamester, the greater master he is in his art, the worse man he is.

Much bending breaks the bow; much unbending, the mind.

He conquers twice, who restrains himself in victory.

If vices were profitable, the virtuous man would be the sinner.

He sleeps well, who is not conscious that he sleeps ill.

To deliberate about useful things is the safest delay.

The flood of grief decreaseth, when it can swell no higher.

Pain makes even the innocent man a liar.

In desire, swiftness itself is delay.

Even a single hair casts a shadow.

He that has lost his faith, what staff has he left ?

A beautiful face is a silent commendation.

Fortune makes him fool, whom she makes her darling.

Fortune is not content to do a man but one ill turn.

The fortune which nobody sees makes a man happy and unenvied.

What a miserable thing it is to be injured by those of whom we cannot complain.

A man dies as often as he loses his friends.

The tears of an heir are laughter under a mask.

Nothing is pleasant to which variety does not give relish.

He may be envied, who is either courageous or happy.

In adversity, only the virtuous can entertain hope.

In revenge, haste is criminal.

In misfortune, even to smile is to offend.

He accuseth Neptune unjustly, who makes shipwreck a second time.

He that injures one, threatens many.

All delay is unpleasant, but we are the wiser for it.

Happy he who dies ere he calls on death.

A bad man is, worst when he pretends to be a saint.

Lock and key will scarce keep that secure which pleases everybody.

They live ill, who think to live for ever.

That sick man does ill for himself, who makes his physician his heir.

He of whom many are afraid, ought himself to fear many.

There's no fortune so good, but it bates an ace.

That is half granted which is denied graciously.

The coward calls himself a cautious man; and the miser says, he is frugal.

O life ! an age to the miserable, a moment to the happy.

It is a strange desire which men have, to seek power and lose liberty.

Children increase the cares of life: but they mitigate the remembrance of death.

Round dealing is the honour of man's nature; and a mixture of falsehood is like alloy in gold and silver, which may make the metal work the better, but it debaseth it.

Death openeth the gate to good fame, and extinguisheth envy.

Revenge is a kind of wild justice, which the more a man's nature runs to, the more ought law to weed it out.

He that studieth revenge, keepeth his own wounds green.

It was a high speech of Seneca (after the manner of the Stoics), that the good things which belong to prosperity are to be wished; but the good things which belong to adversity are to be admired.

He that cannot see well, let him go softly.

If a man be thought secret, it inviteth discovery; as the more close air sucketh in the more open.

Keep your authority wholly from your children, not so your purse.

Men of noble birth are noted to be envious towards new men when they rise. For the distance is altered; and it is like a deceit of the eye, that when others come on, they think themselves go back.

As in nature things move more violently to their place, and calmly in their place: so virtue in ambition is violent; in authority, settled and calm.

Boldness in civil business, is like pronunciation in the orator of Demosthenes; the first, second, and third thing.

Boldness is blind: whereof 'tis ill in counsel, but good in execution. For in counsel it is good to see dangers, in execution not to see them, except they be very great.

Without good-nature, man is but a better kind of vermin.

God never wrought miracles to convince atheism, because his ordinary works convince it.

The great atheists indeed are hypocrites, who are always handling holy things, but without feeling, so as they must needs be cauterized in the end.

The master of superstition is the people. And in all superstition, wise men follow fools.

In removing superstitions, care should be had, that (as it fareth in ill purgings) the good be not taken away with the bad; which commonly is done, when the people is the physician.

He that goeth into a country before he hath some entrance into the language, goeth to school, and not to travel.

It is a miserable state of mind (and yet it is commonly the case of kings) to have few things to desire, and many to fear.

Depression of the nobility may make a king more absolute, but less safe.

All precepts concerning kings are, in effect, comprehended in these remembrances: Remember thou art a man; remember thou art God's vicegerent. The one bridleth their power, and the other their will.

Things will have their first or second agitation. If they be not tossed upon the arguments of counsel, they will be tossed upon the waves of fortune.

The true composition of a counsellor is rather to be skilled in his masters business than his nature; for then he is like to advise him, and not to feed his humour.

Fortune sometimes turneth the handle of the bottle, which is easy to be taken hold of; and after the belly, which is hard to grasp.

Generally it is good to commit the beginning of all great actions to Argus with an hundred eyes; and the ends of them to Briareus with an hundred hands; first to watch and then to speed.

There is a great difference betwixt a cunning man and a wise man. There be that can pack the cards, who yet cannot play well; they are good in canvasses and factions, and yet otherwise mean men.

Extreme self-lovers will set a man's house on fire, though it were but to roast their eggs.

New things, like strangers, are more admired and less favoured.

It were good 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.

They that reverence too much old times are but a scorn to the new.

The Spaniards and Spartans have been noted to be of small despatch. Mi venga la muerte de Spagna - Let my death come from Spain; for then it will be sure to be long a-coming.

You had better take for business a man somewhat absurd, than over-formal.

Those who want friends to whom to open their griefs, are cannibals of their own hearts.

Number itself importeth not much in armies, where the people are of weak courage; for (as Virgil says) it never troubles a wolf how many the sheep be.

Let states, that aim at greatness, take heed how their nobility and gentry multiply too fast. In coppice woods, if you leave your staddles too thick, you shall never have clean underwood, but shrubs and bushes.

A civil war is like the heat of a fever; but a foreign war is like the heat of exercise, and serveth to keep the body in health.

Suspicions among thoughts are like bats among birds, they ever fly by twilight.

Base natures, if they find themselves once suspected, will never be true.

Men ought to find the difference between saltness and bitterness. Certainly he that hath a satirical vein, as he maketh others afraid of his wit, so he had need be afraid of others' memory.

Men seem neither well to understand their riches, nor their strength; of the former they believe greater things than they should and of the latter much less. And from hence fatal pillars have bounded the progress of learning.

Riches are the baggage of virtue; they cannot be spared nor left behind, but they hinder the march.

Great riches have sold more men than ever they have bought out.

He that defers his charity till he is dead, is (if a man weighs it rightly) rather liberal of another man's, than of his own.

Ambition is like choler; if he can move, it makes men active; if it be stopped, it becomes adust, and makes men melancholy.

To take a soldier without ambition, is to pull off his spurs.

Some ambitious men seem as screens to princes in matters of danger and envy. For no man will take such parts, except he be like the seeled dove, that mounts and mounts, because he cannot see about him.

Princes and states should choose such ministers as are more sensible of duty than rising; and should discern a busy nature from a willing mind.

A man's nature runs either to herbs or weeds; therefore let him seasonably water the one, and destroy the other.

If a man look sharp and attentively, he shall see fortune; for though she be blind, she is not invisible.

Usury bringeth the treasure of the realm or state into a few hands: for the usurer being at certainties, and the others at uncertainties, at the end of the game most of the money will be in the box.

Virtue is best in a body that hath rather dignity of presence than beauty of aspect. The beautiful prove accomplished, but not of great spirit; and study, for the most part, rather behaviour than virtue.

The best part of beauty is that which a picture cannot express.

He who builds a fair house upon an ill seat commits himself to prison.

If you would work on any man, you must either know his nature and fashions, and so lead him; or his ends, and so persuade him; or his weaknesses and disadvantages, and so awe him; or those that have interest in him, and so govern him.

Costly followers (among whom we may reckon those who are importunate in suits) are not to be liked; lest, while a man maketh his train longer, he maketh his wings shorter.

Fame is like a river, that beareth up things light and swollen, and drowns things weighty and solid.

Seneca saith well, that anger is like rain, that breaks itself upon that it falls.

Excusations, cessions, modesty itself well governed, are but arts of ostentation.

High treason is not written in ice; that when the body relenteth, the impression should go away.

The best governments are always subject to be like the fairest crystals, when every icicle or grain is seen, which in a fouler stone is never perceived.

In great place ask counsel of both times: of the ancient time what is best, and of the latter time what is fittest.

The virtue of prosperity is temperance, of adversity fortitude, which in morals is the more heroical virtue. Prosperity is the blessing of the Old Testament, adversity the blessing of the New, which carrieth the greater benediction and the clearer revelation of God's favour.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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