Library Of The World's Best Literature, Ancient And Modern, Vol 3

Part 5 out of 11

man. During our journey he kept insinuating (without appearing, however,
to attach much importance to it) that it was always advisable to speak
with proper respect of a country where we had been well received, even
if we had noticed a great many abuses and disorders. To a certain
extent, this counsel was well worthy of attention. He was doubtless much
grieved at the want of decency apparent in one section of that society,
or, to use a modern expression, at its absence of respectability; but he
consoled himself by thinking, like Abraham the Jew in the 'Decameron,'
that no better proof can be given of the truth of the religion professed
by Rome than the fact of its enduring in such hands.

This reasoning, however, is not quite conclusive; for if Boccaccio had
had patience to wait another forty years, he would have learnt, first
from John Huss, and then from Luther and his followers, that although in
certain hands things may last a while, it is only till they are worn
out. What Boccaccio and the Jew would say now if they came back, I do
not venture to surmise,


From 'My Recollections'

While striving to acquire a good artistic position in my new residence,
I had still continued to work at my 'Fieramosca,' which was now almost
completed. Letters were at that time represented at Milan by Manzoni,
Grossi, Torti, Pompeo Litta, etc. The memories of the period of Monti,
Parini, Foscolo, Porta, Pellico, Verri, Beccaria, were still fresh; and
however much the living literary and scientific men might be inclined to
lead a secluded life, intrenched in their own houses, with the shyness
of people who disliked much intercourse with the world, yet by a little
tact those who wished for their company could overcome their reserve. As
Manzoni's son-in-law, I found myself naturally brought into contact with
them. I knew them all; but Grossi and I became particularly intimate,
and our close and uninterrupted friendship lasted until the day of his
but too premature death. I longed to show my work to him, and especially
to Manzoni, and ask their advice; but fear this time, not artistic but
literary, had again caught hold of me. Still, a resolve was necessary,
and was taken at last. I disclosed my secret, imploring forbearance and
advice, but no _indulgence_. I wanted the truth, the whole truth, and
nothing but the truth. I preferred the blame of a couple of trusted
friends to that of the public. Both seemed to have expected something a
great deal worse than what they heard, to judge by their startled but
also approving countenances, when my novel was read to them. Manzoni
remarked with a smile, "We literary men have a strange profession
indeed--any one can take it up in a day. Here is Massimo: the whim of
writing a novel seizes him, and upon my word he does not do badly,
after all!"

This high approbation inspired me with leonine courage, and I set to
work again in earnest, so that in 1833 the work was ready for
publication. On thinking it over now, it strikes me that I was guilty of
great impertinence in thus bringing out and publishing with undaunted
assurance my little novel among all those literary big-wigs; I who had
never done or written anything before. But it was successful; and this
is an answer to every objection.

The day I carried my bundle of manuscript to San Pietro all' Orto, and,
as Berni expresses it,--

Un che di stampar opere lavora,
Dissi, Stampami questa alla malora!"

Discovered one, a publisher by trade,
'Print me this book, bad luck to it!' I said.)

I was in a still greater funk than on the two previous occasions. But I
had yet to experience the worst I ever felt in the whole course of my
life, and that was on the day of publication; when I went out in the
morning, and read my illustrious name placarded in large letters on the
street walls! I felt blinded by a thousand sparks. Now indeed _alea
jacta erat_, and my fleet was burnt to ashes.

This great fear of the public may, with good-will, be taken for modesty;
but I hold that at bottom it is downright vanity. Of course I am
speaking of people endowed with a sufficient dose of talent and
common-sense; with fools, on the contrary, vanity takes the shape of
impudent self-confidence. Hence all the daily published amount of
nonsense; which would convey a strange idea of us to Europe, if it were
not our good fortune that Italian is not much understood abroad. As
regards our internal affairs, the two excesses are almost equally
noxious. In Parliament, for instance, the first, those of the timidly
vain genus, might give their opinion a little oftener with general
advantage; while if the others, the impudently vain, were not always
brawling, discussions would be more brief and rational, and public
business better and more quickly dispatched. The same reflection applies
to other branches--to journalism, literature, society, etc.; for vanity
is the bad weed which chokes up our political field; and as it is a
plant of hardy growth, blooming among us all the year round, it is just
as well to be on our guard.

Timid vanity was terribly at work within me the day 'Fieramosca' was
published. For the first twenty-four hours it was impossible to learn
anything; for even the most zealous require at least a day to form some
idea of a book. Next morning, on first going out, I encountered a friend
of mine, a young fellow then and now a man of mature age, who has never
had a suspicion of the cruel blow he unconsciously dealt me. I met him
in Piazza San Fedele, where I lived; and after a few words, he said, "By
the by, I hear you have published a novel. Well done!" and then talked
away about something quite different with the utmost heedlessness. Not a
drop of blood was left in my veins, and I said to myself, "Mercy on me!
I am done for: not even a word is said about my poor 'Fieramosca!'" It
seemed incredible that he, who belonged to a very numerous family,
connected with the best society of the town, should have heard nothing,
if the slightest notice had been taken of it. As he was besides an
excellent fellow and a friend, it seemed equally incredible that if a
word had been said and heard, he should not have repeated it to me.
Therefore, it was a failure; the worst of failures, that of silence.
With a bitter feeling at heart, I hardly knew where I went; but this
feeling soon changed, and the bitterness was superseded by quite an
opposite sensation.

'Fieramosca' succeeded, and succeeded so well that I felt _abasourdi_,
as the French express it; indeed, I could say "Je n'aurais jamais cru
etre si fort savant." My success went on in an increasing ratio: it
passed from the papers and from the masculine half to the feminine half
of society; it found its way to the studios and the stage. I became the
vade-mecum of every prima-donna and tenor, the hidden treat of
school-girls; I penetrated between the pillow and the mattress of
college, boys, of the military academy cadet; and my apotheosis reached
such a height that some newspapers asserted it to be Manzoni's work. It
is superfluous to add that only the ignorant could entertain such an
idea; those who were better informed would never have made such
a blunder.

My aim, as I said, was to take the initiative in the slow work of the
regeneration of national character. I had no wish but to awaken high and
noble sentiments in Italian hearts; and if all the literary men in the
world had assembled to condemn me in virtue of strict rules, I should
not have cared a jot, if, in defiance of all existing rules, I succeeded
in inflaming the heart of one single individual. And I will also add,
who can say that what causes durable emotion is unorthodox? It may be at
variance with some rules and in harmony with others; and those which
move hearts and captivate intellects do not appear to me to be
the worst.




The emperor Baber was sixth in descent from Tamerlane, who died in 1405.
Tamerlane's conquests were world-wide, but they never formed a
homogeneous empire. Even in his lifetime he parceled them out to sons
and grandsons. Half a century later Trans-oxiana was divided into many
independent kingdoms each governed by a descendant of the great

When Baber was born (1482), an uncle was King of Samarkand and Bokhara;
another uncle ruled Badakhshan; another was King of Kabul. A relative
was the powerful King of Khorasan. These princes were of the family of
Tamerlane, as was Baber's father,--Sultan Omer Sheikh Mirza, who was the
King of Ferghana. Two of Baber's maternal uncles, descendants of Chengiz
Khan, ruled the Moghul tribes to the west and north of Ferghana; and two
of their sisters had married the Kings of Samarkand and Badakhshan. The
third sister was Baber's mother, wife of the King of Ferghana.

The capitals of their countries were cities like Samarkand, Bokhara, and
Herat. Tamerlane's grandson--Ulugh Beg--built at Samarkand the chief
astronomical observatory of the world, a century and a half before Tycho
Brahe (1576) erected Uranibourg in Denmark. The town was filled with
noble buildings,--mosques, tombs, and colleges. Its walls were five
miles in circumference[2].

[Footnote 2: Paris was walled in 1358; so Froissart tells us.]

Its streets were paved (the streets of Paris were not paved till the
time of Henri IV.), and running water was distributed in pipes. Its
markets overflowed with fruits. Its cooks and bakers were noted for
their skill. Its colleges were full of learned men, poets[3], and
doctors of the law. The observatory counted more than a hundred
observers and calculators in its corps of astronomers. The products of
China, of India, and of Persia flowed to the bazaars.

[Footnote 3: "In Samarkand, the Odes of Baiesanghar Mirza are so
popular, that there is not a house in which a copy of them may not be
found."--Baber's. 'Memoirs.']

Bokhara has always been the home of learning. Herat was at that time the
most magnificent and refined city of the world[4]. The court was
splendid, polite, intelligent, and liberal. Poetry, history,
philosophy, science, and the arts of painting and music were cultivated
by noblemen and scholars alike. Baber himself was a poet of no mean
rank. The religion was that of Islam, and the sect the orthodox Sunni;
but the practice was less precise than in Arabia. Wine was drunk; poetry
was prized; artists were encouraged. The mother-language of Baber was
Turki (of which the Turkish of Constantinople is a dialect). Arabic was
the language of science and of theology. Persian was the accepted
literary language, though Baber's verses are in Turki as well.

[Footnote 4: Baber spent twenty days in visiting its various palaces,
towers, mosques, gardens, colleges--and gives a list of more than fifty
such sights.]

We possess Baber's 'Memoirs' in the original Turki and in Persian
translations also. In what follows, the extracts will be taken from
Erskine's translation[5], which preserves their direct and manly charm.

[Footnote 5: 'Memoirs of Baber, Emperor of Hindustan, written by
himself, and translated by Leyden and Erskine,' etc. London,
1826, quarto.]

To understand them, the foregoing slight introduction is necessary. A
connected sketch of Baber's life and a brief history of his conquests
can be found in 'The Mogul Emperors of Hindustan[6].' We are here more
especially concerned with his literary work. To comprehend it, something
of his history and surroundings must be known.

[Footnote 6: By Edward S. Holden, New York, 1895, 8vo, illustrated.]


In the month, of Ramzan, in the year 899 [A. D. 1494], and in the
twelfth year of my age, I became King of Ferghana.

The country of Ferghana is situated in the fifth climate, on the extreme
boundary of the habitable world. On the east it has Kashgar; on the
west, Samarkand; on the south, the hill country; on the north, in former
times there were cities, yet at the present time, in consequence of the
incursions of the Usbeks, no population remains. Ferghana is a country
of small extent, abounding in grain and fruits. The revenues may
suffice, without oppressing the country, to maintain three or four
thousand troops.

My father, Omer Sheikh Mirza, was of low stature, had a short, bushy
beard, brownish hair, and was very corpulent. As for his opinions and
habits, he was of the sect of Hanifah, and strict in his belief. He
never neglected the five regular and stated prayers. He read elegantly,
and he was particularly fond of reading the 'Shahnameh[7].' Though he
had a turn for poetry, he did not cultivate it. He was so strictly just,
that when the caravan from [China] had once reached the hill country to
the east of Ardejan, and the snow fell so deep as to bury it, so that
of the whole only two persons escaped; he no sooner received information
of the occurrence than he dispatched overseers to take charge of all the
property, and he placed it under guard and preserved it untouched, till
in the course of one or two years, the heirs coming from Khorasan, he
delivered back the goods safe into their hands. His generosity was
large, and so was his whole soul; he was of an excellent temper,
affable, eloquent, and sweet in his conversation, yet brave withal
and manly.

[Footnote 7: The 'Book of Kings,' by the Persian poet Firdausi.]

The early portion of Baber's 'Memoirs' is given to portraits of the
officers of his court and country. A few of these may be quoted.

Khosrou Shah, though a Turk, applied his attention to the mode of
raising his revenues, and he spent them liberally. At the death of
Sultan Mahmud Mirza, he reached the highest pitch of greatness, and his
retainers rose to the number of twenty thousand. Though he prayed
regularly and abstained from forbidden foods, yet he was black-hearted
and vicious, of mean understanding and slender talents, faithless and a
traitor. For the sake of the short and fleeting pomp of this vain world,
he put out the eyes of one and murdered another of the sons of the
benefactor in whose service he had been, and by whom he had been
protected; rendering himself accursed of God, abhorred of men, and
worthy of execration and shame till the day of final retribution. These
crimes he perpetrated merely to secure the enjoyment of some poor
worldly vanities; yet with all the power of his many and populous
territories, in spite of his magazines of warlike stores, he had not the
spirit to face a barnyard chicken. He will often be mentioned in
these memoirs.

Ali Shir Beg was celebrated for the elegance of his manners; and this
elegance and polish were ascribed to the conscious pride of high
fortune: but this was not the case; they were natural to him. Indeed,
Ali Shir Beg was an incomparable person. From the time that poetry was
first written in the Turki language, no man has written so much and so
well. He has also left excellent pieces of music; they are excellent
both as to the airs themselves and as to the preludes. There is not upon
record in history any man who was a greater patron and protector of men
of talent than he. He had no son nor daughter, nor wife nor family; he
passed through the world single and unincumbered.

Another poet was Sheikhem Beg. He composed a sort of verses, in which
both the words and the sense are terrifying and correspond with each
other. The following is one of his couplets:--

_During my sorrows of the night, the whirlpool of my sighs bears
the firmament from its place;
The dragons of the inundations of my tears bear down the four
quarters of the habitable world_!

It is well known that on one occasion, having repeated these verses to
Moulana Abdal Rahman Jami, the Mulla said, "Are you repeating poetry, or
are you terrifying folks?"

A good many men who wrote verses happened to be present. During the
party the following verse of Muhammed Salikh was repeated:--

_What can one do to regulate his thoughts, with a mistress possessed
of every blandishment_?
_Where you are, how is it possible for our thoughts to wander to

It was agreed that every one should make an extempore couplet to the
same rhyme and measure. Every one accordingly repeated his verse. As we
had been very merry, I repeated the following extempore
satirical verses:--

_What can one do with a drunken sot like you?
What can be done with one foolish as a she-ass?_

Before this, whatever had come into my head, good or bad, I had always
committed it to writing. On the present occasion, when I had composed
these lines, my mind led me to reflections, and my heart was struck with
regret that a tongue which could repeat the sublimest productions should
bestow any trouble on such unworthy verses; that it was melancholy that
a heart elevated to nobler conceptions should submit to occupy itself
with these meaner and despicable fancies. From that time forward I
religiously abstained from satirical poetry. I had not then formed my
resolution, nor considered how objectionable the practice was.


Having failed in repeated expeditions against Samarkand and Ardejan, I
once more returned to Khojend. Khojend is but a small place; and it is
difficult for one to support two hundred retainers in it. How then could
a [young] man, ambitious of empire, set himself down contentedly in so
insignificant a place? As soon as I received advice that the garrison of
Ardejan had declared for me, I made no delay. And thus, by the grace of
the Most High, I recovered my paternal kingdom, of which I had been
deprived nearly two years. An order was issued that such as had
accompanied me in my campaigns might resume possession of whatever part
of their property they recognized. Although the order seemed reasonable
and just in itself, yet it was issued with too much precipitation. It
was a senseless thing to exasperate so many men with arms in their
hands. In war and in affairs of state, though things may appear just and
reasonable at first sight, no matter ought to be finally decided without
being well weighed and considered in a hundred different lights. From my
issuing this single order without sufficient foresight, what commotions
and mutinies arose! This inconsiderate order of mine was in reality the
ultimate cause of my being a second time expelled from Ardejan.

* * * * *

Baber's next campaign was most arduous, but in passing by a spring he
had the leisure to have these verses of Saadi inscribed on its brink:--

_I have heard that the exalted Jemshid
Inscribed on a stone beside a fountain:--
"Many a man like us has rested by this fountain,
And disappeared in the twinkling of an eye.
Should we conquer the whole world by our manhood and strength,
Yet could we not carry it with us to the grave."_

Of another fountain he says:--"I directed this fountain to be built
round with stone, and formed a cistern. At the time when the _Arghwan_
flowers begin to blow, I do not know that any place in the world is to
be compared to it." On its sides he engraved these verses:--

_Sweet is the return of the new year;
Sweet is the smiling spring;
Sweet is the juice of the mellow grape;
Sweeter far the voice of love.
Strive, O Baber! to secure the joys of life,
Which, alas! once departed, never more return._

From these flowers Baber and his army marched into the passes of the
high mountains.

His narrative goes on:--

It was at this time that I composed the following verses:--

_There is no violence or injury of fortune that I have not
This broken heart has endured them all. Alas! is there one left
that I have not encountered_?

For about a week we continued pressing down the snow without being able
to advance more than two or three miles. I myself assisted in trampling
down the snow. Every step we sank up to the middle or the breast, but we
still went on, trampling it down. As the strength of the person who went
first was generally exhausted after he had advanced a few paces, he
stood still, while another took his place. The ten, fifteen, or twenty
people who worked in trampling down the snow, next succeeded in dragging
on a horse without a rider. Drawing this horse aside, we brought on
another, and in this way ten, fifteen, or twenty of us contrived to
bring forward the horses of all our number. The rest of the troops, even
our best men, advanced along the road that had been beaten for them,
hanging their heads. This was no time for plaguing them or employing
authority. Every man who possesses spirit or emulation hastens to such
works of himself. Continuing to advance by a track which we beat in the
snow in this manner, we reached a cave at the foot of the Zirrin pass.
That day the storm of wind was dreadful. The snow fell in such
quantities that we all expected to meet death together. The cave seemed
to be small. I took a hoe and made for myself at the mouth of the cave a
resting-place about the size of a prayer-carpet. I dug down in the snow
as deep as my breast, and yet did not reach the ground. This hole
afforded me some shelter from the wind, and I sat down in it. Some
desired me to go into the cavern, but I would not go. I felt that for me
to be in a warm dwelling, while my men were in the, midst of snow and
drift,--for me to be within, enjoying sleep and ease, while my followers
were in trouble and distress,--would be inconsistent with what I owed
them, and a deviation from that society in suffering which was their
due. I continued, therefore, to sit in the drift.

_Ambition admits not of inaction;
The world is his who exerts himself;
In wisdom's eye, every condition
May find repose save royalty alone._

By leadership like this, the descendant of Tamerlane became the ruler of
Kabul. He celebrates its charms in verse:--

_Its verdure and flowers render Kabul, in spring, a heaven._--

but this kingdom was too small for a man of Baber's stamp. He used it as
a stepping-stone to the conquest of India (1526).

_Return a hundred thanks, O Baber! for the bounty of the merciful God
Has given you Sind, Hind, and numerous kingdoms;
If, unable to stand the heat, you long for cold,
You have only to recollect the frost and cold of Ghazni._

In spite of these verses, Baber did not love India, and his monarchy was
an exile to him. Let the last extract from his memoirs be a part of a
letter written in 1529 to an old and trusted friend in Kabul. It is an
outpouring of the griefs of his inmost heart to his friend. He says:--

My solicitude to visit my western dominions (Kabul) is
boundless and great beyond expression. I trust in Almighty
Allah that the time is near at hand when everything will be
completely settled in this country. As soon as matters are
brought to that state, I shall, with the permission of Allah,
set out for your quarters without a moment's delay. How is it
possible that the delights of those lands should ever be
erased from the heart? How is it possible to forget the
delicious melons and grapes of that pleasant region? They
very recently brought me a single muskmelon from Kabul. While
cutting it up, I felt myself affected with a strong feeling
of loneliness and a sense of my exile from my native country,
and I could not help shedding tears. [He gives long
instructions on the military and political matters to be
attended to, and continues without a break:--] At the
southwest of Besteh I formed a plantation of trees; and as
the prospect from it was very fine, I called it Nazergah [the
view]. You must there plant some beautiful trees, and all
around sow beautiful and sweet-smelling flowers and shrubs.
[And he goes straight on:--] Syed Kasim will accompany the
artillery. [After more details of the government he quotes
fondly a little trivial incident of former days and friends,
and says:--] Do not think amiss of me for deviating into

The 'Memoirs' of Baber deserve a place beside the writings of
the greatest of generals and conquerors. He is not unworthy
to be classed with Caesar as a general and as a man of
letters. His character was more human, more frank, more
lovable, more ardent. His fellow in our western world is not
Caesar, but Henri IV. of France and Navarre.

[Illustration: Signature: Edward S. Holden]


(First Century A.D.)

Babrius, also referred to as Babrias and Gabrias, was the
writer of that metrical version of the folk-fables, commonly
referred to Aesop, which delights our childhood. Until the
time of Richard Bentley he was commonly thought of merely as
a fabulist whose remains had been preserved by a few
grammarians. Bentley, in the first draft (1697) of the part
of his famous 'Dissertation' treating of the fables of Aesop,
speaks thus of Babrius, and goes not far out of his way to
give a rap at Planudes, a late Greek, who turned works of
Ovid, Cato, and Caesar into Greek:--

"... came one Babrius, that gave a new turn of the fables
into choliambics. Nobody that I know of mentions him but
Suidas, Avienus, and Tzetzes. There's one Gabrias, indeed,
yet extant, that has comprised each fable in four sorry
iambics. But our Babrius is a writer of another size and
quality; and were his book now extant, it might justly be
opposed, if not preferred, to the Latin of Phaedrus. There's
a whole fable of his yet preserved at the end of Gabrias, of
'The Swallow and the Nightingale.' Suidas brings many
citations out of him, all which show him an excellent
poet.... There are two parcels of the present fables; the
one, which are the more ancient, one hundred and thirty-six
in number, were first published out of the Heidelberg Library
by Neveletus, 1610. The editor himself well observed that
they were falsely ascribed to Aesop, because they mention
holy monks. To which I will add another remark,--that there
is a sentence out of Job.... Thus I have proved one-half of
the fables now extant that carry the name of Aesop to be
above a thousand years more recent than he. And the other
half, that were public before Neveletus, will be found yet
more modern, and the latest of all.... This collection,
therefore, is more recent than that other; and, coming first
abroad with Aesop's 'Life,' written by Planudes, 'tis justly
believed to be owing to the same writer. That idiot of a monk
has given us a book which he calls 'The Life of Aesop,' that
perhaps cannot be matched in any language for ignorance and
nonsense. He had picked up two or three true stories,--that
Aesop was a slave to a Xanthus, carried a burthen of bread,
conversed with Croesus, and was put to death at Delphi; but
the circumstances of these and all his other tales are pure
invention.... But of all his injuries to Aesop, that which
can least be forgiven him is the making such a monster of him
for ugliness,--an abuse that has found credit so universally
that all the modern painters since the time of Planudes have
drawn him in the worst shapes and features that fancy could
invent. 'Twas an old tradition among the Greeks that Aesop
revived again and lived a second life. Should he revive once
more and see the picture before the book that carries his
name, could he think it drawn for himself?--or for the
monkey, or some strange beast introduced in the 'Fables'? But
what revelation had this monk about Aesop's deformity? For he
must have it by dream or vision, and not by ordinary methods
of knowledge. He lived about two thousand years after him,
and in all that tract of time there's not a single author
that has given the least hint that Aesop was ugly."

Thus Bentley; but to return to Babrius. Tyrwhitt, in 1776, followed this
calculation of Bentley by collecting the remains of Babrius. A
publication in 1809 of fables from a Florentine manuscript foreran the
collection (1832) of all the fables which could be entirely restored. In
1835 a German scholar, Knoch, published whatever had up to that time
been written on Babrius, or as far as then known by him. So much had
been accomplished by modern scholarship. The calculation was not unlike
the mathematical computation that a star should, from an apparent
disturbance, be in a certain quarter of the heavens at a certain time.
The manuscript of Babrius, it became clear, must have existed. In 1842
M. Mynas, a Greek, who had already discovered the 'Philosophoumena' of
Hippolytus, came upon the parchment in the convent of St. Lama on Mount
Athos. He was employed by the French government, and the duty of giving
the new ancient to the world fell to French scholars. The date of the
manuscript they referred to the tenth century. There were contained in
it one hundred and twenty-three of the supposed one hundred and sixty
fables, the arrangement being alphabetical and ending with the letter O.
Again, in 1857 M. Mynas announced another discovery. Ninety-four fables
and a prooemium were still in a convent at Mount Athos; but the monks,
who made difficulty about parting with the first parchment, refused to
let the second go abroad. M. Mynas forwarded a transcript which he sold
to the British Museum. It was after examination pronounced to be the
work of a forger, and not even what it purported to be--the tinkering of
a writer who had turned the original of Babrius into barbarous Greek
and halting metre. Suggestions were made that the forger was Mynas
himself. And there were scholars who accounted the manuscript
as genuine.

The discovery of the first part added substantially to the remains which
we have of the poetry of ancient Greece. The terseness, simplicity, and
humor of the poems belong to the popular classic all the world over, in
whatever tongue it appears; and the purity of the Greek shows that
Babrius lived at a time when the influence of the classical age was
still vital. He is placed at various times. Bergk fixes him so far back
as B.C. 250, while others place him at the same number of years in our
own era. Both French and German criticism has claimed that he was a
Roman. There is no trace of his fables earlier than the Emperor Julian,
and no metrical version of the Aesopean fables existed before the
writing of Babrius. Socrates tried his hand at a version or two. But
when such Greek writers as Xenophon and Aristotle refer to old
folk-tales and legends, it is always in their own words. His fables are
written in choliambic verse; that is, imperfect iambic which has a
spondee in the last foot and is fitted for the satire for which it was
originally used.

The fables of Babrius have been edited, with an interesting and valuable
introduction, by W.G. Rutherford (1883), and by F.G. Schneidewin (1880).
They have been turned into English metre by James Davies, M.A. (1860).
The reader is also referred to the article 'Aesop' in the present work.


Betwixt the North wind and the Sun arose
A contest, which would soonest of his clothes
Strip a wayfaring clown, so runs the tale.
First, Boreas blows an almost Thracian gale,
Thinking, perforce, to steal the man's capote:
He loosed it not; but as the cold wind smote
More sharply, tighter round him drew the folds,
And sheltered by a crag his station holds.
But now the Sun at first peered gently forth,
And thawed the chills of the uncanny North;
Then in their turn his beams more amply plied,
Till sudden heat the clown's endurance tried;
Stripping himself, away his cloak he flung:
The Sun from Boreas thus a triumph wrung.

The fable means, "My son, at mildness aim:
Persuasion more results than force may claim."


A baby-show with prizes Jove decreed
For all the beasts, and gave the choice due heed.
A monkey-mother came among the rest;
A naked, snub-nosed pug upon her breast
She bore, in mother's fashion. At the sight
Assembled gods were moved to laugh outright.
Said she, "Jove knoweth where his prize will fall!
I know my child's the beauty of them all."

This fable will a general law attest,
That each one deems that what's his own, is best.


A mouse into a lidless broth-pot fell;
Choked with the grease, and bidding life farewell,
He said, "My fill of meat and drink have I
And all good things: 'Tis time that I should die."

Thou art that dainty mouse among mankind,
If hurtful sweets are not by thee declined.


There hung some bunches of the purple grape
On a hillside. A cunning fox, agape
For these full clusters, many times essayed
To cull their dark bloom, many vain leaps made.
They were quite ripe, and for the vintage fit;
But when his leaps did not avail a whit,
He journeyed on, and thus his grief composed:--
"The bunch was sour, not ripe, as I supposed."


A carter from the village drove his wain:
And when it fell into a rugged lane,
Inactive stood, nor lent a helping hand;
But to that god, whom of the heavenly band
He really honored most, Alcides, prayed:
"Push at your wheels," the god appearing said,
"And goad your team; but when you pray again,
Help yourself likewise, or you'll pray in vain."


Two Tanagraean cocks a fight began;
Their spirit is, 'tis said, as that of man:
Of these the beaten bird, a mass of blows,
For shame into a corner creeping goes;
The other to the housetop quickly flew,
And there in triumph flapped his wings and crew.
But him an eagle lifted from the roof,
And bore away. His fellow gained a proof
That oft the wages of defeat are best,--
None else remained the hens to interest.

WHEREFORE, O man, beware of boastfulness:
Should fortune lift thee, others to depress,
Many are saved by lack of her caress.


An Arab, having heaped his camel's back,
Asked if he chose to take the upward track
Or downward; and the beast had sense to say
"Am I cut off then from the level way?"


Far from men's fields the swallow forth had flown,
When she espied amid the woodlands lone
The nightingale, sweet songstress. Her lament
Was Itys to his doom untimely sent.
Each knew the other through the mournful strain,
Flew to embrace, and in sweet talk remain.
Then said the swallow, "Dearest, liv'st thou still?
Ne'er have I seen thee, since thy Thracian ill.
Some cruel fate hath ever come between;
Our virgin lives till now apart have been.
Come to the fields; revisit homes of men;
Come dwell with me, a comrade dear, again,
Where thou shalt charm the swains, no savage brood:
Dwell near men's haunts, and quit the open wood:
One roof, one chamber, sure, can house the two,
Or dost prefer the nightly frozen dew,
And day-god's heat? a wild-wood life and drear?
Come, clever songstress, to the light more near."
To whom the sweet-voiced nightingale replied:--
"Still on these lonesome ridges let me bide;
Nor seek to part me from the mountain glen:--
I shun, since Athens, man, and haunts of men;
To mix with them, their dwelling-place to view,
Stirs up old grief, and opens woes anew."

Some consolation for an evil lot
Lies in wise words, in song, in crowds forgot.
But sore the pang, when, where you once were great,
Again men see you, housed in mean estate.


Thin nets a farmer o'er his furrows spread,
And caught the cranes that on his tillage fed;
And him a limping stork began to pray,
Who fell with them into the farmer's way:--
"I am no crane: I don't consume the grain:
That I'm a stork is from my color plain;
A stork, than which no better bird doth live;
I to my father aid and succor give."
The man replied:--"Good stork, I cannot tell
Your way of life: but this I know full well,
I caught you with the spoilers of my seed;
With them, with whom I found you, you must bleed."

Walk with the bad, and hate will be as strong
'Gainst you as them, e'en though you no man wrong.


Some woodmen, bent a forest pine to split,
Into each fissure sundry wedges fit,
To keep the void and render work more light.
Out groaned the pine, "Why should I vent my spite
Against the axe which never touched my root,
So much as these cursed wedges, mine own fruit;
Which rend me through, inserted here and there!"

A fable this, intended to declare
That not so dreadful is a stranger's blow
As wrongs which men receive from those they know.


A very careful dame, of busy way,
Kept maids at home, and these, ere break of day,
She used to raise as early as cock-crow.
They thought 'twas hard to be awakened so,
And o'er wool-spinning be at work so long;
Hence grew within them all a purpose strong
To kill the house-cock, whom they thought to blame
For all their wrongs. But no advantage came;
Worse treatment than the former them befell:
For when the hour their mistress could not tell
At which by night the cock was wont to crow,
She roused them earlier, to their work to go.
A harder lot the wretched maids endured.

Bad judgment oft hath such results procured.


A lamp that swam with oil, began to boast
At eve, that it outshone the starry host,
And gave more light to all. Her boast was heard:
Soon the wind whistled; soon the breezes stirred,
And quenched its light. A man rekindled it,
And said, "Brief is the faint lamp's boasting fit,
But the starlight ne'er needs to be re-lit."


To the shy hare the tortoise smiling spoke,
When he about her feet began to joke:
"I'll pass thee by, though fleeter than the gale."
"Pooh!" said the hare, "I don't believe thy tale.
Try but one course, and thou my speed shalt know."
"Who'll fix the prize, and whither we shall go?"
Of the fleet-footed hare the tortoise asked.
To whom he answered, "Reynard shall be tasked
With this; that subtle fox, whom thou dost see."
The tortoise then (no hesitater she!)
Kept jogging on, but earliest reached the post;
The hare, relying on his fleetness, lost
Space, during sleep, he thought he could recover
When he awoke. But then the race was over;
The tortoise gained her aim, and slept _her_ sleep.

From negligence doth care the vantage reap.




The startling contrasts of splendor and humiliation which marked the
life of Bacon, and the seemingly incredible inconsistencies which hasty
observers find in his character, have been the themes of much rhetorical
declamation, and even of serious and learned debate. From Ben Jonson in
his own day, to James Spedding the friend of Tennyson, he has not lacked
eminent eulogists, who look up to him as not only the greatest and
wisest, but as among the noblest and most worthy of mankind: while the
famous epigram of Pope, expanded by Macaulay into a stately and eloquent
essay, has impressed on the popular mind the lowest estimate of his
moral nature; and even such careful scholars as Charles de Remusat and
Dean Church, who have devoted careful and instructive volumes to the
survey of Bacon's career and works, insist that with all his
intellectual supremacy, he was a servile courtier, a false friend, and a
corrupt judge. Yet there are few important names in human history of men
who have left us so complete materials for a just judgment of their
conduct; and it is only a lover of paradox who can read these and still
regard Bacon's character as an unsolved problem.

Mr. Spedding has given a long life of intelligent labor to the
collection of every fact and document throwing light upon the motives,
aims, and thoughts of the great "Chancellor of Nature," from the cradle
to the grave. The results are before us in the seven volumes of 'The
Letters and the Life of Francis Bacon,' which form perhaps the most
complete biography ever written. It is a book of absolute candor as well
as infinite research, giving with equal distinctness all the evidence
which makes for its hero's dishonor and that which tends to justify the
writer's reverence for him. Another work by Mr. Spedding, 'Evenings with
a Reviewer,' in two volumes, is an elaborate refutation, from the
original and authentic records, of the most damning charges brought by
Lord Macaulay against Bacon's good fame. It is a complete and
overwhelming exposure of false coloring, of rhetorical artifices, and of
the abuse of evidence, in the famous essay. As one of the most
entertaining and instructive pieces of controversy in our literature, it
deserves to be widely read. The unbiased reader cannot accept the
special pleading by which, in his comments, Spedding makes every failing
of Bacon "lean to virtue's side"; but will form upon the unquestioned
facts presented a clear conception of him, will come to know him as no
other man of an age so remote is known, and will find in his many-sided
and magnificent nature a full explanation of the impressions which
partial views of it have made upon his worshipers and his detractors.

It is only in his maturity, indeed, that we are privileged to enter into
his mind and read his heart. But enough is known of the formative period
of his life to show us the sources of his weaknesses and of his
strength. The child whom high authorities have regarded as endowed with
the mightiest intellect of the human race was born at York House, on the
Strand, in the third year of Elizabeth's reign, January 22d, 1561. He
was the son of the Queen's Lord Keeper of the Seals, Sir Nicholas Bacon,
and his second wife Anne, daughter of Sir Anthony Cook, formerly tutor
of King Edward VI. Mildred, an elder daughter of the same scholar, was
the wife of William Cecil, Lord Burghley, who for the first forty years
of her reign was Elizabeth's chief minister. As a child Bacon was a
favorite at court, and tradition represents him as something of a pet of
the Queen, who called him "my young Lord Keeper." His mother was among
the most learned women of an age when, among women of rank, great
learning was as common and as highly prized as great beauty; and her
influence was a potent intellectual stimulus to the boy, although he
revolted in early youth from the narrow creed which her fierce Puritan
zeal strove to impose on her household. Outside of the nursery, the
atmosphere of his world was that of craft, all directed to one end; for
the Queen was the source of honor, power, and wealth, and advancement in
life meant only a share in the grace distributed through her ministers
and favorites. Apart from the harsh and forbidding religious teachings
of his mother, young Francis had before him neither precept nor example
of an ambition more worthy than that of courting the smiles of power.

[Illustration: SIR FRANCIS BACON.]

At the age of twelve he entered Trinity College, Cambridge (April,
1573), and left it before he was fifteen (Christmas, 1575); the
institution meanwhile having been broken up for more than half a year
(August, 1574, to March, 1575) by the plague, so that his intermittent
university career summed up less than fourteen months. There is no
record of his studies, and the names of his teachers are unknown; for
though Bacon in later years called himself a pupil of Whitgift, and his
biographers assumed that the relation was direct and personal, yet that
great master of Trinity had certainly ended his teaching days before
Bacon went to Cambridge, and had entered as Dean of Lincoln on his
splendid ecclesiastical career. University life was very different from
that of our times. The statutes of Cambridge forbade a student, under
penalties, to use in conversation with another any language but
Latin, Greek, or Hebrew, unless in his private apartments and in hours
of leisure. It was a regular custom at Trinity to bring before the
assembled undergraduates every Thursday evening at seven o'clock such
junior students as had been detected in breaches of the rules during the
week, and to flog them. It would be interesting to know in what
languages young Bacon conversed, and what experiences of discipline
befell him; but his subsequent achievements at least suggest that
Cambridge in the sixteenth century may have afforded more efficient
educational influences than our knowledge of its resources and methods
can explain. For it is certain that, at an age when our most promising
youths are beginning serious study, Bacon's mind was already formed, his
habits and modes of research were fixed, the universe of knowledge was
an open field before him. Thenceforth he was no man's pupil, but in
intellectual independence and solitude he rapidly matured into the
supreme scholar of his age.

After registering as a student of law at Gray's Inn, apparently for the
purpose of a nominal connection with a profession which might aid his
patrons in promoting him at court, Bacon was sent in June, 1576, to
France in the train of the British Ambassador, Sir Amyas Paulet; and for
nearly three years followed the roving embassy around the great cities
of that kingdom. The massacre of St. Bartholomew had taken place four
years before, and the boy's recorded observations on the troubled
society of France and of Europe show remarkable insight into the
character of princes and the sources of political movements. Sir
Nicholas had hitherto directed his son's education and associations with
the purpose of making him an ornament of the court, and had set aside a
fund to provide Francis at the proper time with a handsome estate. But
he died suddenly, February 20th, 1579, without giving legal effect to
this provision, and the sum designed for the young student was divided
equally among the five children, while Francis was excluded from a share
in the rest of the family fortune; and was thus called home to England
to find himself a poor man.

He made himself a bachelor's home at Gray's Inn, and devoted his
energies to the law, with such success that he was soon recognized as
one of the most promising members of the profession. In 1584 he entered
Parliament for Melcombe Regis in Somersetshire, and two years later sat
for Liverpool. During these years the schism between his inner and his
outer life continued to widen. Drawing his first breath in the
atmosphere of the court, bred in the faith that honor and greatness come
from princes' favor, with a native taste for luxury and magnificence
which was fostered by delicate health, he steadily looked for
advancement through the influence of Burghley and the smiles of the
Queen. But Burghley had no sympathy with speculative thought, and
distrusted him for his confidences concerning his higher studies, while
he probably feared in Bacon a dangerous rival of his own son; so that
with expressions of kind interest, he refrained from giving his nephew
practical aid. Elizabeth, too, suspected that a young man who knew so
many things could not be trusted to know his own business well, and
preferred for important professional work others who were lawyers and
nothing besides. Thus Bacon appeared to the world as a disappointed and
uneasy courtier, struggling to keep up a certain splendor of appearance
and associations under a growing load of debt, and servile to a Queen on
whose caprice his prospects of a career must depend. His unquestioned
power at the bar was exercised only in minor causes; his eloquence and
political dexterity found slow recognition in Parliament, where they
represented only themselves; and the question whether he would ever be a
man of note in the kingdom seemed for twenty-five years to turn upon
what the Crown might do for its humble suitor.

Meanwhile this laborious advocate and indefatigable courtier, whose
labors at the bar and in attendance upon his great friends were enough
to fill the days of two ordinary men, led his real life in secret,
unknown to the world, and uncomprehended even by the few in whom he had
divined a capacity for great thought, and whom he had selected for his
confidants. From his childhood at the university, where he felt the
emptiness of the Aristotelian logic, the instrument for attaining truth
which traditional learning had consecrated, he had gradually formed the
conception of a more fruitful process. He had become convinced that the
learning of all past ages was but a poor result of the intellectual
capacities and labors which had been employed upon it; that the human
mind had never yet been properly used; that the methods hitherto adopted
in research were but treadmill work, returning upon itself, or at best
could produce but fragmentary and accidental additions to the sum of
knowledge. All nature is crammed with truth, he believed, which it
concerns man to discover; the intellect of man is constructed for its
discovery, and needs but to be purged of errors of every kind, and
directed in the most efficient employment of its faculties, to make sure
that all the secrets of nature will be revealed, and its powers made
tributary to the health, comfort, enjoyment, and progressive improvement
of mankind.

This stupendous conception, of a revolution which should transform the
world, seems to have taken definite form in Bacon's mind as early as his
twenty-fifth year, when he embodied the outline of it in a Latin
treatise; which he destroyed in later life, unpublished, as immature,
and partly no doubt because he came to recognize in it an unbecoming
arrogance of tone, for its title was 'Temporis Partus Maximus' (The
Greatest Birth of Time.) But six years later he defines these "vast
contemplative ends" in his famous letter to Burghley, asking for
preferment which will enable him to prosecute his grand scheme and to
employ other minds in aid of it. "For I have taken all knowledge to be
my province," he says, "and if I could purge it of two sorts of rovers,
whereof the one with frivolous disputations, confutations, and
verbosities, the other with blind experiments and auricular traditions
and impostures, hath committed so many spoils, I hope I should bring in
industrious observations, grounded conclusions, and profitable
inventions and discoveries: the best state of that province. This,
whether it be curiosity or vain glory, or nature, or (if one take it
favorably) _philanthropia_ is so fixed in my mind as it cannot
be removed."

This letter reveals the secret of Bacon's life, and all that we know of
him, read in the light of it, forms a consistent and harmonious whole.
He was possessed by his vast scheme, for a reformation of the
intellectual world, and through it, of the world of human experience, as
fully as was ever apostle by his faith. Implicitly believing in his own
ability to accomplish it, at least in its grand outlines, and to leave
at his death the community of mind at work, by the method and for the
purposes which he had defined, with the perfection of all science in
full view, he subordinated every other ambition to this; and in seeking
and enjoying place, power, and wealth, still regarded them mainly as
aids in prosecuting his master purpose, and in introducing it to the
world. With this clearly in mind, it is easy to understand his
subsequent career. Its external details may be read in any of the score
of biographies which writers of all grades of merit and demerit have
devoted to him, and there is no space for them here. For our purpose it
is necessary to refer only to the principal crises in his public life.

Until the death of Elizabeth, Bacon had no place in the royal service
worthy of his abilities as a lawyer. Many who, even in the narrowest
professional sense, were far inferior to him, were preferred before him.
Yet he obtained a position recognized by all, and second only in legal
learning to his lifelong rival and constant adversary, Sir Edward Coke.
To-day, it is probable that if the two greatest names in the history of
the common law were to be selected by the suffrages of the profession,
the great majority would be cast for Coke and Bacon. As a master of the
intricacies of precedent and an authority upon the detailed formulas of
"the perfection of reason," the former is unrivaled still; but in the
comprehensive grasp of the law as a system for the maintenance of social
order and the protection of individual rights, Bacon rose far above him.
The cherished aim of his professional career was to survey the whole
body of the laws of England, to produce a digest of them which should
result in a harmonious code, to do away with all that was found obsolete
or inconsistent with the principles of the system, and thus to adapt the
living, progressive body of the law to the wants of the growing nation.
This magnificent plan was beyond the power of any one man, had his life
no other task, but he suggested the method and the aim; and while for
six generations after these legal giants passed away, the minute,
accurate, and profound learning of Coke remained the acknowledged chief
storehouse of British traditional jurisprudence, the seventh generation
took up the work of revision and reform, and from the time of Bentham
and Austin the progress of legal science has been toward codification.
The contest between the aggregation of empirical rules and formulated
customs which Coke taught as the common law, and the broad, harmonious
application of scientific reason to the definition and enforcement of
rights, still goes on; but with constant gains on the side of the
reformers, all of whom with one consent confess that no general and
complete reconstruction of legal doctrine as a science is possible,
except upon the lines laid down by Bacon.

The most memorable case in which Bacon was employed to represent the
Crown during Elizabeth's life was the prosecution of the Earl of Essex
for treason. Essex had been Bacon's friend, patron, and benefactor; and
as long as the earl remained faithful to the Queen and retained her
favor, Bacon served him with ready zeal and splendid efficiency, and
showed himself the wisest and most sincere of counselors. When Essex
rejected his advice, forfeited the Queen's confidence by the follies
from which Bacon had earnestly striven to deter him, and finally plunged
into wanton and reckless rebellion, Bacon, with whom loyalty to his
sovereign had always been the supreme duty, accepted a retainer from the
Crown, and assisted Coke in the prosecution. The crime of Essex was the
greatest of which a subject was capable; it lacked no circumstance of
aggravation; if the most astounding instance of ingratitude and
disloyalty to friendship ever known is to be sought in that age, it will
be found in the conduct of Essex to Bacon's royal mistress. Yet writers
of eloquence have exhausted their rhetorical powers in denouncing
Bacon's faithlessness to his friend. But no impartial reader of the full
story in the documents of the time can doubt that throughout these
events Bacon did his duty and no more, and that in doing it he not
merely made a voluntary sacrifice of his popularity, but a far more
painful sacrifice of his personal feelings.

In 1603 James I. came to the throne, and in spite of the efforts of his
most trusted ministers to keep Bacon in obscurity, soon discovered in
him a man whom he needed. In 1607 he was made Solicitor-General; in
1613 Attorney-General; in March 1617, on the death of Lord Ellesmere, he
received the seals as Lord Keeper; and in January following was made
Lord Chancellor of England. In July 1618 he was raised to the permanent
peerage as Baron Verulam, and in January 1621 received the title of
Viscount St. Albans. During these three years he was the first subject
in the kingdom in dignity, and ought to have been the first in
influence. His advice to the King, and to the Duke of Buckingham who was
the King's king, was always judicious. In certain cardinal points of
policy, it was of the highest statesmanship; and had it been followed,
the history of the Stuart dynasty would have been different, and the
Crown and the Parliament would have wrought together for the good and
the honor of the nation, at least through a generation to come. But the
upstart Buckingham was supreme. He had studied Bacon's strength and
weakness, had laid him under great obligations, had at the same time
attached him by the strongest tie of friendship to his person, and
impressed upon his consciousness the fact that the fate of Bacon was at
all times in his hands. The new Chancellor had entered on his great
office with a fixed purpose to reform its abuses, to speed and cheapen
justice, to free its administration from every influence of wealth and
power. In the first three months of service he brought up the large
arrears of business, tried every cause, heard every petition, and
acquired a splendid reputation as an upright and diligent judge. But
Buckingham was his evil angel. He was without sense of the sanctity of
the judicial character; and regarded the bench, like every other public
office, as an instrument of his own interests and will. On the other
hand, to Bacon the voice of Buckingham was the voice of the King, and he
had been taught from infancy as the beginning of his political creed
that the king can do no wrong. Buckingham began at once to solicit from
Bacon favors for his friends and dependants, and the Chancellor was weak
enough to listen and to answer him. There is no evidence that in any one
instance the favorite asked for the violation of law or the perversion
of justice; much less that Bacon would or did accede to such a request.
But the Duke demanded for one suitor a speedy hearing, for another a
consideration of facts which might not be in evidence, for a third all
the favor consistent with law; and Bacon reported to him the result, and
how far he had been able to oblige him. This persistent tampering with
the source of justice was a disturbing influence in the Chancellor's
court, and unquestionably lowered the dignity of his attitude and
weakened his judicial conscience.

Notwithstanding this, when the Lord Chancellor opened the Parliament in
January, 1621, with a speech in praise of his King and in honor of the
nation, he seemed to be at the summit of earthly prosperity. No voice
had been lifted to question his purity and worth. He was the friend of
the King, one of the chief supports of the throne, a champion indeed of
high prerogative, but an orator of power, a writer of fame, whose
advancement to the highest dignities had been welcomed by public
opinion. Four months later he was a convicted criminal, sentenced for
judicial corruption to imprisonment at the King's pleasure, to a fine of
L40,000, and to perpetual incapacity for any public employment.
Vicissitudes of fortune are commonplaces of history. Many a man once
seemingly pinnacled on the top of greatness has "shot from the zenith
like a falling star," and become a proverb of the fickleness of fate.
Some are torn down by the very traits of mind, passion, or temper, which
have raised them: ambition which overleaps itself, rashness which
hazards all on chances it cannot control, vast abilities not great
enough to achieve the impossible. The plunge of Icarus into the sea, the
murder of Caesar, the imprisonment of Coeur de Lion, the abdication of
Napoleon, the apprehension as a criminal of Jefferson Davis, each was a
startling and impressive contrast to the glory which it followed, yet
each was the natural result of causes which lay in the character and
life of the sufferer, and made his story a consistent whole. But the
pathos of Bacon's fall is the sudden moral ruin of a life which had been
built up in honor for sixty years. An intellect of the first rank, which
from boyhood to old age had been steadfast in the pursuit of truth and
in the noblest services to mankind, which in a feeble body had been
sustained in vigor by all the virtues of prudence and self-reverence; a
genial nature, winning the affection and admiration of associates,
hardly paralleled in the industry with which its energies were devoted
to useful work, a soul exceptional among its contemporaries for piety
and philanthropy--this man is represented to us by popular writers as
having habitually sold justice for money, and as having become in office
"the meanest of mankind."

But this picture, as so often drawn, and as seemingly fixed in the
popular mind, is not only impossible, but is demonstrably false. To
review all the facts which correct it in detail would lead us far beyond
our limits. It must suffice to refer to the great work of Spedding, in
which the entire records of the case are found, and which would long ago
have made the world just to Bacon's fame, but that the author's comment
on his own complete and fair record is itself partial and extravagant.
But the materials for a final judgment are accessible to all in
Spedding's volumes, and a candid reading of them solves the enigma.
Bacon was condemned without a trial, on his own confession, and this
confession was consistent with the tenor of his life. Its substance was
that he had failed to put a stop effectually to the immemorial custom
in his court of receiving presents from suitors, but that he had never
deviated from justice in his decrees. There was no instance in which he
was accused of yielding to the influence of gifts, or passing judgment
for a bribe. No act of his as Chancellor was impeached as illegal, or
reversed as corrupt. Suitors complained that they had sent sums of money
or valuable presents to his court, and had been disappointed in the
result; but no one complained of injustice in a decision. Bacon was a
conspicuous member of the royal party; and when the storm of popular
fury broke in Parliament upon the court, the King and the ministry
abandoned him. He had stood all his life upon the royal favor as the
basis of his strength and hope; and when it was gone from under him, he
sank helplessly, and refused to attempt a defense. But he still in his
humiliation found comfort in the reflection that his ruin would put an
end to "anything that is in the likeness of corruption" among the
judges. And he wrote, in the hour of his deepest distress, that he had
been "the justest Chancellor that hath been in the five changes that
have been since Sir Nicholas Bacon's time." Nor did any man of his time
venture to contradict him, when in later years he summed up his case in
the words, "I was the justest judge that was in England these fifty
years. But it was the justest censure in Parliament that was these two
hundred years."

No revolution of modern times has been more complete than that which the
last two centuries have silently wrought in the customary morality of
British public life, and in the standards by which it is judged. Under
James I. every office of state was held as the private property of its
occupant. The highest places in the government were conferred only on
condition of large payments to the King. He openly sold the honors and
dignities of which he was the source. "The making of a baron," that is,
the right to sell to some rich plebeian a patent of nobility, was a
common grant to favorites, and was actually bestowed on Bacon, to aid
him in maintaining the state of his office. We have the testimony of
James himself that all the lawyers, of whom the judges of the realm were
made, were "so bred and nursed in corruption that they cannot leave it."
But the line between what the King called corruption and that which he
and all his ministers practiced openly and habitually, as part of the
regular work of government, is dim and hard to define. The mind of the
community had not yet firmly grasped the conception of public office as
a trust for the public good, and the general opinion which stimulates
and sustains the official conscience in holding this trust sacred was
still unformed. The courts of justice were the first branch of the
government to feel the pressure of public opinion, and to respond to
the demand for impersonal and impartial right. But this process had only
begun when Bacon, who had never before served as judge, was called to
preside in Chancery. The Chancellor's office was a gradual development:
originally political and administrative rather than judicial, and with
no salary or reward for hearing causes, save the voluntary presents of
suitors who asked its interference with the ordinary courts, it step by
step became the highest tribunal of the equity which limits and corrects
the routine of law, and still the custom of gifts was unchecked. A
careful study of Bacon's career shows that in this, as every other
branch of thought, his theoretic convictions were in advance of his age;
and in his advice to the King and in his inaugural promises as
Chancellor, he foreshadows all the principles on which the wisest
reformers of the public service now insist. But he failed to apply them
with that heroic self-sacrifice which alone would have availed him, and
the forces of custom and example continually encroached upon his views
of duty. Having through a long life sought advancement and wealth for
the purpose of using leisure and independence to carry out his
beneficent plans on the largest scale, he eagerly accepted the
traditional emoluments of his new position, in the conviction that they
would become in his hands the means of vast good to mankind. It was only
the public exposure which fully awakened him to a sense of the
inconsistency and wrong of his conduct; and then he was himself his
severest judge, and made every reparation in his power, by the most
unreserved confession, by pointing out the danger to society of such
weakness as his own in language to whose effectiveness nothing could be
added, and by devoting the remainder of his life to the noblest work
for humanity.

During the years of Bacon's splendor as a member of the government and
as spokesman for the throne, his real life as a thinker, inspired by the
loftiest ambition which ever entered the mind of man, that of creating a
new and better civilization, was not interrupted. It was probably in
1603 that he wrote his fragmentary 'Prooemium de Interpretatione
Naturae,' or 'Preface to a Treatise on Interpreting Nature,' which is
the only piece of autobiography he has left us. It was found among his
papers after his death; and its candor, dignity, and enthusiasm of tone
are in harmony with the imaginative grasp and magnificent suggestiveness
of its thought. Commending the original Latin to all who can appreciate
its eloquence, we cite the first sentences of it in English:--

"Believing that I was born for the service of mankind, and
regarding the care of the Commonwealth as a kind of common
property which, like the air and water, belongs to everybody,
I set myself to consider in what way mankind might be best
served, and what service I was myself best fitted by nature
to perform.

"Now, among all the benefits that could be conferred upon
mankind, I found none so great as the discovery of new arts
for the bettering of human life. For I saw that among the
rude people of early times, inventors and discoverers were
reckoned as gods. It was seen that the works of founders of
States, law-givers, tyrant-destroyers, and heroes cover but
narrow spaces and endure but for a time; while the work of
the inventor, though of less pomp, is felt everywhere and
lasts forever. But above all, if a man could, I do not say
devise some invention, however useful, but kindle a light in
nature--a light which, even in rising, should touch and
illuminate the borders of existing knowledge, and spreading
further on should bring to light all that is most
secret--that man, in my view, would be indeed the benefactor
of mankind, the extender of man's empire over nature, the
champion of freedom, the conqueror of fate.

"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 discern resemblances in things (the main point),
and yet steady enough to distinguish the subtle differences
in them; as being endowed with zeal to seek, patience to
doubt, love of meditation, slowness of assertion, readiness
to reconsider, carefulness to arrange and set in order; and
as being a man that affects not the new nor admires the old,
but hates all imposture. So I thought my nature had a certain
familiarity and kindred with Truth."

During the next two years he applied himself to the composition of the
treatise on the 'Advancement of Learning,' the greatest of his English
writings, and one which contains the seed-thoughts and outline
principles of all his philosophy. From the time of its publication in
1605 to his fall in 1621, he continued to frame the plan of his 'Great
Instauration' of human knowledge, and to write out chapters, books,
passages, sketches, designed to take their places in it as essential
parts. It was to include six great divisions: first, a general survey of
existing knowledge; second, a guide to the use of the intellect in
research, purging it of sources of error, and furnishing it with the new
instrument of inductive logic by which all the laws of nature might be
ascertained; third, a structure of the phenomena of nature, included in
one hundred and thirty particular branches of natural history, as the
materials for the new logic; fourth, a series of types and models of the
entire mental process of discovering truth, "selecting various and
remarkable instances"; fifth, specimens of the new philosophy, or
anticipations of its results, in fragmentary contributions to the sixth
and crowning division, which was to set forth the new philosophy in its
completeness, comprehending the truths to be discovered by a perfected
instrument of reasoning, in interpreting all the phenomena of the world.
Well aware that the scheme, especially in its concluding part, was far
beyond the power and time of any one man, he yet hoped to be the
architect of the final edifice of science, by drawing its plans and
making them intelligible, leaving their perfect execution to an
intellectual world which could not fail to be moved to its supreme
effort by a comprehension of the work before it. The 'Novum Organum,'
itself but a fragment of the second division of the 'Instauration,' the
key to the use of the intellect in the discovery of truth, was published
in Latin at the height of his splendor as Lord Chancellor, in 1620, and
is his most memorable achievement in philosophy. It contains a multitude
of suggestive thoughts on the whole field of science, but is mainly the
exposition of the fallacies by which the intellect is deceived and
misled, and from which it must be purged in order to attain final truth,
and of the new doctrine of "prerogative instances," or crucial
observations and experiments in the work of discovery.

In short, Bacon's entire achievement in science is a plan for an
impossible universe of knowledge. As far as he attempted to advance
particular sciences by applying his method to their detailed phenomena,
he wrought with imperfect knowledge of what had been done, and with
cumbrous and usually misdirected efforts to fill the gaps he recognized.
In a few instances, by what seems an almost superhuman instinct for
truth, rather than the laborious process of investigation which he
taught, he anticipated brilliant discoveries of later centuries. For
example, he clearly pointed out the necessity of regarding heat as a
form of motion in the molecules of matter, and thus foreshadowed,
without any conception of the means of proving it, that which, for
investigators of the nineteenth century, has proved the most direct way
to the secrets of nature. But the testimony of the great teachers of
science is unanimous, that Bacon was not a skilled observer of
phenomena, nor a discoverer of scientific inductions; that he
contributed no important new truth, in the sense of an established law,
to any department of knowledge; and that his method of research and
reasoning is not, in its essential features, that which is fruitfully
pursued by them in extending the boundaries of science, nor was his mind
wholly purged of those "idols of the cave," or forms of personal bias,
whose varying forms as hindrances to the "dry light" of sound reason he
was the first to expose. He never appreciated the mathematics as the
basis of physics, but valued their elements mainly as a mental
discipline. Astronomy meant little to him, since he failed to connect it
directly with human well-being and improvement; to the system of
Copernicus, the beginning of our insight into the heavens, he was
hostile, or at least indifferent; and the splendid discoveries
successively made by Tycho Brahe, Galileo, and Kepler, and brought to
his ears while the 'Great Instauration' filled his mind and heart, met
with but a feeble welcome with him, or none. Why is it, then, that
Bacon's is the foremost name in the history of English, and perhaps, as
many insist, of all modern thought? Why is it that "the Baconian
philosophy" is another phrase, in all the languages of Europe, for that
splendid development of the study and knowledge of the visible universe
which since his time has changed the life of mankind?

A candid answer to these questions will expose an error as wide in the
popular estimate of Bacon's intellectual greatness as that which has
prevailed so generally regarding his character. He is called the
inventor of inductive reasoning, the reformer of logic, the lawgiver of
the world of thought; but he was no one of these. His grasp of the
inductive method was defective; his logic was clumsy and impractical;
his plan for registering all phenomena and selecting and generalizing
from them, making the discovery of truth almost a mechanical process,
was worthless. In short, it is not as a philosopher nor as a man of
science that Bacon has carved his name in the high places of enduring
fame, but rather as a man of letters; as on the whole the greatest
writer of the modern world, outside of the province of imaginative art;
as the Shakespeare of English prose. Does this seem a paradox to the
reader who remembers that Bacon distrusted all modern languages, and
thought to make his 'Advancement of Learning' "live, and be a citizen of
the world," by giving it a Latin form? That his lifelong ambition was to
reconstruct methods of thought, and guide intellect in the way of work
serviceable to comfort and happiness? That the books in which his
English style appears in its perfection, the 'History of Henry VII.,'
the 'Essays,' and the papers on public affairs, were but incidents and
avocations of a life absorbed by a master purpose?

But what is literature? It is creative mind, addressing itself in worthy
expression to the common receptive mind of mankind. Its note is
universality, as distinguished from all that is technical, limited, and
narrow. Thought whose interest is as broad as humanity, suitably clothed
in the language of real life, and thus fitted for access to the general
intelligence, constitutes true literature, to the exclusion of that
which, by its nature or by its expression, appeals only to a special
class or school. The 'Opus Anglicanum' of Duns Scotus, Newton's
'Principia,' Lavoisier's treatise 'Sur la Combustion,' Kant's 'Kritik
der Reinen Vernunft' (Critique of Pure Reason), each made an epoch in
some vast domain of knowledge or belief; but none of them is literature.
Yet the thoughts they, through a limited and specially trained class of
students, introduced to the world, were gradually taken up into the
common stock of mankind, and found their broad, effective, complete
expression in the literature of after generations. If we apply this
test to Bacon's life work, we shall find sufficient justification for
honoring him above all special workers in narrower fields, as next to
Shakespeare the greatest name in the greatest period of English

It was not as an experimenter, investigator, or technical teacher, but
as a thinker and a writer, that he rendered his great service to the
world. This consisted essentially in the contribution of two magnificent
ideas to the common stock of thought: the idea of the utility of
science, as able to subjugate the forces of nature to the use of man;
and the idea of continued and boundless progress in the comfort and
happiness of the individual life, and in the order and dignity of human
society. It has been shown how, from early manhood, he was inspired by
the conception of infinite resources in the material world, for the
discovery and employment of which the human mind is adapted. He never
wearied of pointing out the imperfection and fruitlessness of the
methods of inquiry and of invention hitherto in use, and the splendid
results which could be rapidly attained if a combined and systematic
effort were made to enlarge the boundaries of knowledge. This led him
directly to the conception of an improved and advancing civilization; to
the utterance, in a thousand varied, impressive, and fascinating forms,
of that idea of human progress which is the inspiration, the
characteristic, and the hope of the modern world. Bacon was the first of
men to grasp these ideas in all their comprehensiveness as feasible
purposes, as practical aims; to teach the development of them as the
supreme duty and ambition of his contemporaries, and to look forward
instead of behind him for the Golden Age. Enforcing and applying these
thoughts with a wealth of learning, a keenness of wit, a soundness of
judgment, and a suggestiveness of illustration unequaled by any writer
before him, he became the greatest literary power of modern times to
stimulate minds in every department of life to their noblest efforts and
their worthiest achievements.

Literature has a twofold aspect: its ideal is pure truth, which is the
noblest thought embodied in perfect beauty of form. It is the union of
science and art, the final wedding in which are merged the knowledge
worthy to be known and the highest imagination presenting it. There is a
school calling itself that of pure art, to which substance is nothing
and form is everything. Its measure of merit is applied to the manner
only; and the meanest of subjects, the most trivial and even the most
degraded of ideas or facts, is welcomed to its high places if clothed in
a satisfying garb. But this school, though arrogant in the other arts of
expression, has not yet been welcomed to the judgment-seat in
literature, where indeed it is passing even now to contempt and
oblivion. Bacon's instinct was for substance. His strongest passion was
for utility. The artistic side of his nature was receptive rather than
creative. Splendid passages in the 'Advancement' and 'De Augmentis' show
his profound appreciation of all the arts of expression, but show
likewise his inability to glorify them above that which they express. In
his mind, language is subordinate to thought, and the painting to the
picture, just as the frame is to the painting or the binding to the
book. He writes always in the grand style. He reminds us of "the large
utterance of the early gods." His sentences are weighted with thought,
as suggestive as Plato, as condensed as Thucydides. Full of wit, keen in
discerning analogies, rich in intellectual ornament, he is yet too
concentrated in his attention to the idea to care for the melody of
language. He decorates with fruits, not with flowers. For metrical
movement, for rhythmic harmony, he has no ear nor sense. Inconceivable
as it is that Shakespeare could have written one aphorism of the 'Novum
Organum,' it would be far more absurd to imagine Bacon writing a line of
the Sonnets. With the loftiest imagination, the liveliest fancy, the
keenest sense of precision and appropriateness in words, he lacks the
special gift of poetic form, the faculty divine which finds new
inspiration in the very limitations of measured language, and whose
natural expression is music alike to the ear and to the mind. His powers
were cramped by the fetters of metre, and his attempts to versify even
rich thought and deep feeling were puerile. But his prose is by far the
weightiest, the most lucid, effective, and pleasing of his day. The poet
Sprat justly says:--

"He was a man of strong, clear, and powerful imaginations;
his genius was searching and inimitable; and of this I need
give no other proof than his style itself, which as for the
most part it describes men's minds as well as pictures do
their bodies, so it did his above all men living."

And Ben Jonson, who knew him well, describes his eloquence in terms
which are confirmed by all we know of his Parliamentary career:--

"One, though he be excellent and the chief, is not to be
imitated alone; for no imitator ever grew up to his author:
likeness is always on this side truth. Yet there happened in
my time one noble speaker, who was full of gravity in his
speaking. His language (when he could spare or pass by a
jest) was nobly censorious. No man ever spake more neatly,
more rightly, more weightily, or suffered less emptiness,
less idleness in what he uttered. No member of his speech but
consisted of his own graces. His hearers could not cough or
look aside from him without loss. He commanded when he spoke,
and had his judges angry and pleased at his devotion. No man
had their affections more in his power. The fear of every man
that heard him was lest he should make an end."

The speeches of Bacon are almost wholly lost, his philosophy is an
undeciphered heap of fragments, the ambitions of his life lay in ruins
about his dishonored old age; yet his intellect is one of the great
moving and still vital forces of the modern world, and he remains, for
all ages to come, in the literature which is the final storehouse of the
chief treasures of mankind, one of

"The dead yet sceptered sovereigns who still rule
Our spirits from their urns."


From the 'Essays'

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 labor 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 favor: but a natural though corrupt love of the lie
itself. One of the later school 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 daylight, that doth not show
the masks and mummeries and triumphs of the world half so stately and
daintily as candle-lights. Truth may perhaps come to the price of a
pearl, that showeth best by day; but it will not rise to the price of a
diamond or carbuncle, that showeth 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 men poor shrunken things, full of melancholy and
indisposition, and unpleasing to themselves? One of the fathers, in
great severity, called poesy _vinum doemonum,_ 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.... 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 tossed 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 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.

To pass from theological and philosophical truth to the truth of civil
business: it will be acknowledged even by those that practice it not,
that clear and round dealing is the honor 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 prettily, when he inquired the reason why the
word of the lie should be such a disgrace and such an odious charge.
Saith he, "If it be well weighed, to say that a man lieth, is as much as
to say that he is brave toward God and a coward toward 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 the earth."


From the 'Essays'

Revenge is a kind of wild justice; which the more man's nature runs to,
the more ought law to weed it out. For as for the first wrong, it doth
but offend the law; but the revenge of that wrong putteth the law out of
office. Certainly, in taking revenge, a man is but even with his enemy;
but in passing it over, he is superior: for it is a prince's part to
pardon, and Solomon, I am sure, saith, "It is the glory of a man to pass
by an offense." That which is past is gone and irrevocable, and wise men
have enough to do with things present and to come; therefore, they do
but trifle with themselves that labor in past matters. There is no man
doth a wrong for the wrong's sake; but thereby to purchase himself
profit, or pleasure, or honor, or the like. Therefore, why should I be
angry with a man for loving himself better than me? And if any man
should do wrong merely out of ill-nature, why yet it is but like the
thorn or brier, which prick and scratch because they can do no other.
The most tolerable sort of revenge is for those wrongs which there is no
law to remedy; but then, let a man take heed the revenge be such as
there is no law to punish, else a man's enemy is still beforehand, and
it is two for one. Some, when they take revenge, are desirous the party
should know whence it cometh. This is the more generous; for the delight
seemeth to be not so much in doing the hurt as in making the party
repent. But base and crafty cowards are like the arrow that flieth in
the dark. Cosmus, Duke of Florence, had a desperate saying against
perfidious or neglecting friends, as if those wrongs were unpardonable.
"You shall read," saith he, "that we are commanded to forgive our
enemies; but you never read that we are commanded to forgive our
friends." But yet the spirit of Job was in a better tune: "Shall we,"
saith he, "take good at God's hands, and not be content to take evil
also?" And so of friends in a proportion. This is certain, that a man
that studieth revenge keeps his own wounds green, which otherwise would
heal and do well. Public revenges are for the most part fortunate: as
that for the death of Caesar; for the death of Pertinax; for the death
of Henry the Third of France; and many more. But in private revenges it
is not so. Nay, rather vindictive persons live the life of witches; who,
as they are mischievous, so end they infortunate.


From the 'Essays'

Dissimulation is but a faint kind of policy or wisdom; for it asketh a
strong wit and a strong heart to know when to tell truth, and to do it.
Therefore it is the weaker sort of politicians that are the great

Tacitus saith, "Livia sorted well with the arts of her husband and
dissimulation of her son;" attributing arts of policy to Augustus, and
dissimulation to Tiberius. And again, when Mucianus encourageth
Vespasian to take arms against Vitellius, he saith, "We rise not against
the piercing judgment of Augustus, nor the extreme caution or closeness
of Tiberius." These properties of arts or policy, and dissimulation or
closeness, are indeed habits and faculties several, and to be
distinguished. For if a man have that penetration of judgment as he can
discern what things are to be laid open, and what to be secreted, and
what to be showed at half-lights, and to whom and when, (which indeed
are arts of state and arts of life, as Tacitus well calleth them,) to
him a habit of dissimulation is a hindrance and a poorness. But if a man
cannot obtain to that judgment, then it is left to him generally to be
close, and a dissembler. For where a man cannot choose or vary in
particulars, there it is good to take the safest and wariest way in
general; like the going softly, by one that cannot well see. Certainly
the ablest men that ever were, have had all an openness and frankness of
dealing, and a name of certainty and veracity: but then they were like
horses well managed, for they could tell passing well when to stop or
turn; and at such times when they thought the case indeed required
dissimulation, if then they used it, it came to pass that the former
opinion spread abroad of their good faith and clearness of dealing made
them almost invisible.

There be three degrees of this hiding and veiling of a man's self. The
first, Closeness, Reservation, and Secrecy; when a man leaveth himself
without observation, or without hold to be taken, what he is. The
second, Dissimulation, in the negative; when a man lets fall signs and
arguments, that he is not that he is. And the third, Simulation, in the
affirmative; when a man industriously and expressly feigns and pretends
to be that he is not.

For the first of these, Secrecy: it is indeed the virtue of a confessor.
And assuredly the secret man heareth many confessions; for who will open
himself to a blab or a babbler? But if a man be thought secret, it
inviteth discovery, as the more close air sucketh in the more open; and
as in confession the revealing is not for worldly use, but for the ease
of a man's heart, so secret men come to the knowledge of many things in
that kind: while men rather discharge their minds than impart their
minds. In few words, mysteries are due to secrecy. Besides (to say
truth), nakedness is uncomely, as well in mind as body; and it addeth no
small reverence to men's manners and actions, if they be not altogether
open. As for talkers and futile persons, they are commonly vain and
credulous withal; for he that talketh what he knoweth, will also talk
what he knoweth not. Therefore set it down, that a habit of secrecy is
both politic and moral. And in this part it is good that a man's face
give his tongue leave to speak; for the discovery of a man's self by the
tracts of his countenance is a great weakness and betraying, by how much
it is many times more marked and believed than a man's words.

For the second, which is Dissimulation: it followeth many times upon
secrecy by a necessity; so that he that will be secret must be a
dissembler in some degree. For men are too cunning to suffer a man to
keep an indifferent carriage between both, and to be secret, without
swaying the balance on either side. They will so beset a man with
questions, and draw him on, and pick it out of him, that without an
absurd silence, he must show an inclination one way; or if he do not,
they will gather as much by his silence as by his speech. As for
equivocations, or oraculous speeches, they cannot hold out long. So that
no man can be secret, except he give himself a little scope of
dissimulation; which is, as it were, but the skirts or train of secrecy.

But for the third degree, which is Simulation and false profession:
that I hold more culpable and less politic, except it be in great and
rare matters. And therefore a general custom of simulation (which is
this last degree) is a vice rising either of a natural falseness or
fearfulness, or of a mind that hath some main faults; which because a
man must needs disguise, it maketh him practice simulation in other
things, lest his hand should be out of use.

The great advantages of simulation and dissimulation are three. First,
to lay asleep opposition, and to surprise; for where a man's intentions
are published, it is an alarum to call up all that are against them. The
second is, to reserve to a man's self a fair retreat; for if a man
engage himself by a manifest declaration, he must go through or take a
fall. The third is, the better to discover the mind of another; for to
him that opens himself men will hardly show themselves adverse, but will
fair let him go on, and turn their freedom of speech to freedom of
thought. And therefore it is a good shrewd proverb of the Spaniard,
"Tell a lie and find a troth;" as if there were no way of discovery but
by simulation. There be also three disadvantages to set it even. The
first, that simulation and dissimulation commonly carry with them a show
of fearfulness; which in any business doth spoil the feathers of round
flying up to the mark. The second, that it puzzleth and perplexeth the
conceits of many that perhaps would otherwise co-operate with him, and
makes a man walk almost alone to his own ends. The third and greatest
is, that it depriveth a man of one of the most principal instruments for
action; which is trust and belief. The best composition and temperature
is, to have openness in fame and opinion; secrecy in habit;
dissimulation in seasonable use; and a power to feign if there be
no remedy.


From the 'Essays'

Travel, in the younger sort, is a part of education; in the elder, a
part of experience. He that traveleth into a country before he hath some
entrance into the language, goeth to school, and not to travel. That
young men travel under some tutor or grave servant, I allow well: so
that he be such a one that hath the language, and hath been in the
country before; whereby he may be able to tell them what things are
worthy to be seen in the country where they go, what acquaintances they
are to seek, what exercises or discipline the place yielded. For else
young men shall go hooded, and look abroad little. It is a strange
thing, that in sea voyages, where there is nothing to be seen but sky
and sea, men should make diaries; but in land travel, wherein so much is
to be observed, for the most part they omit it; as if chance were fitter
to be registered than observation. Let diaries therefore be brought in
use. The things to be seen and observed are, the courts of princes,
specially when they give audience to ambassadors; the courts of justice,
while they sit and hear causes; and so of consistories ecclesiastic; the
churches and monasteries, with the monuments which are therein extant;
the walls and fortifications of cities and towns, and so the havens and
harbors; antiquities and ruins; libraries; colleges, disputations, and
lectures, where any are; shipping and navies; houses and gardens of
state and pleasure, near great cities; armories; arsenals; magazines;
exchanges; burses; warehouses; exercises of horsemanship, fencing,
training of soldiers, and the like; comedies, such whereunto the better
sort of persons do resort; treasuries of jewels and robes; cabinets and
rarities: and, to conclude, whatsoever is memorable in the places where
they go. After all which the tutors or servants ought to make diligent
inquiry. As for triumphs, masks, feasts, weddings, funerals, capital
executions, and such shows, men need not to be put in mind of them: yet
are they not to be neglected. If you will have a young man to put his
travel into a little room, and in short time to gather much, this you
must do. First, as was said, he must have some entrance into the
language before he goeth. Then he must have such a servant or tutor as
knoweth the country, as was likewise said. Let him carry with him also
some card or book, describing the country where he traveleth, which will
be a good key to his inquiry. Let him keep also a diary. Let him not
stay long in one city or town; more or less as the place deserveth, but
not long: nay, when he stayeth in one city or town, let him change his
lodging from one end and part of the town to another; which is a great
adamant of acquaintance. Let him sequester himself from the company of
his countrymen, and diet in such places where there is good company of
the nation where he traveleth. Let him upon his removes from one place
to another, procure recommendation to some person of quality residing
in the place whither he removeth; that he may use his favor in those
things he desireth to see or know. Thus he may abridge his travel with
much profit.

As for the acquaintance which is to be sought in travel: that which is
most of all profitable, is acquaintance with the secretaries and
employed men of ambassadors; for so in traveling in one country he shall
suck the experience of many. Let him also see and visit eminent persons
in all kinds, which are of great name abroad; that he may be able to
tell how the life agreeth with the fame. For quarrels, they are with
care and discretion to be avoided. They are commonly for mistresses,
healths, place, and words. And let a man beware how he keepeth company
with choleric and quarrelsome persons; for they will engage him into
their own quarrels. When a traveler returneth home, let him not leave
the countries where he hath traveled altogether behind him, but maintain
a correspondence by letters with those of his acquaintance which are of
most worth. And let his travel appear rather in his discourse than in
his apparel or gesture; and in his discourse let him be rather advised
in his answers, than forward to tell stories; and let it appear that he
doth not change his country manners for those of foreign parts; but only
prick in some flowers of that he hath learned abroad into the customs of
his own country.


From the 'Essays'

It had been hard for him that spake it to have put more truth and
untruth together in few words than in that speech, "Whosoever is
delighted in solitude is either a wild beast or a god." For it is most
true that a natural and secret hatred and aversion toward society in any
man hath somewhat of the savage beast; but it is most untrue that it
should have any character at all of the divine nature, except it
proceed, not out of a pleasure in solitude, but out of a love and desire
to sequester a man's self for a higher conversation: such as is found to
have been falsely and feignedly in some of the heathen, as Epimenides
the Candian, Numa the Roman, Empedocles the Sicilian, and Apollonius of
Tyana; and truly and really in divers of the ancient hermits and holy
fathers of the Church. But little do men perceive what solitude is, and
how far it extendeth. 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. The Latin adage meeteth with it a little: "Magna civitas, magna
solitudo;" because in a great town friends are scattered, so that there
is not that fellowship, for the most part, which is in less
neighborhoods. But we may go further, and affirm most truly that it is a
mere and miserable solitude to want true friends, without which the
world is but a wilderness; and even in this sense also of solitude,
whosoever in the frame of his nature and affections is unfit for
friendship, he taketh it of the beast, and not from humanity.

A principal fruit of friendship is the ease and discharge of the
fullness and swellings of the heart, which passions of all kinds do
cause and induce. We know diseases of stoppings and suffocations are the
most dangerous in the body; and it is not much otherwise in the mind.
You may take sarza to open the liver, steel to open the spleen, flower
of sulphur for the lungs, castoreum for the brain: but no receipt
openeth the heart but a true friend; to whom you may impart griefs,
joys, fears, hopes, suspicions, counsels, and whatsoever lieth upon the
heart to oppress it, in a kind of civil shrift or confession.

It is a strange thing to observe how high a rate great kings and
monarchs do set upon this fruit of friendship whereof we speak; so
great, as they purchase it many times at the hazard of their own safety
and greatness. For princes, in regard of the distance of their fortune
from that of their subjects and servants, cannot gather this fruit,
except (to make themselves capable thereof) they raise some persons to
be as it were companions and almost equals to themselves; which many
times sorteth to inconvenience. The modern languages give unto such
persons the name of favorites, or privadoes; as if it were matter of
grace or conversation. But the Roman name attaineth the true use and
cause thereof, naming them "participes curarum"; for it is that which
tieth the knot. And we see plainly that this hath been done, not by weak
and passionate princes only, but by the wisest and most politic that
ever reigned; who have oftentimes joined to themselves some of their
servants, whom both themselves have called friends, and allowed others
likewise to call them in the same manner, using the word which is
received between private men.

L. Sylla, when he commanded Rome, raised Pompey (after surnamed the
Great) to that height that Pompey vaunted himself for Sylla's overmatch.
For when he had carried the consulship for a friend of his against the
pursuit of Sylla, and that Sylla did a little resent thereat, and began
to speak great, Pompey turned upon him again, and in effect bade him be
quiet; "for that more men adored the sun rising than the sun setting."
With Julius Caesar, Decimus Brutus had obtained that interest, as he set
him down in his testament for heir in remainder after his nephew; and
this was the man that had power with him to draw him forth to his death.
For when Caesar would have discharged the Senate in regard of some ill
presages, and specially a dream of Calpurnia, this man lifted him gently
by the arm out of his chair, telling him he hoped he would not dismiss
the Senate till his wife had dreamt a better dream. And it seemeth his
favor was so great as Antonius, in a letter which is recited verbatim in
one of Cicero's Philippics, calleth him "venefica"--"witch"; as if he
had enchanted Caesar. Augustus raised Agrippa (though of mean birth) to
that height as, when he consulted with Maecenas about the marriage of
his daughter Julia, Maecenas took the liberty to tell him, "that he must
either marry his daughter to Agrippa or take away his life: there was no
third way, he had made him so great." With Tiberius Caesar, Sejanus had
ascended to that height as they two were termed and reckoned as a pair
of friends. Tiberius in a letter to him saith, "Haec pro amicitia nostra
non occultavi" [these things, from our friendship, I have not concealed
from you]; and the whole Senate dedicated an altar to Friendship, as to
a goddess, in respect of the great dearness of friendship between them
two. The like, or more, was between Septimius Severus and Plautianus.
For he forced his eldest son to marry the daughter of Plautianus; and
would often maintain Plautianus in doing affronts to his son; and did
write also, in a letter to the Senate, by these words: "I love the man
so well, as I wish he may over-live me." Now, if these princes had been
as a Trajan or a Marcus Aurelius, a man might have thought that this had
proceeded of an abundant goodness of nature; but being men so wise, of
such strength and severity of mind, and so extreme lovers of themselves,
as all these were, it proveth most plainly that they found their own
felicity (though as great as ever happened to mortal men) but as an
half-piece, except they might have a friend to make it entire: and yet,
which is more, they were princes that had wives, sons, nephews; and yet
all these could not supply the comfort of friendship.

It is not to be forgotten what Comineus observeth of his first master,
Duke Charles the Hardy; namely, that he would communicate his secrets
with none, and least of all those secrets which troubled him most.
Whereupon he goeth on and saith, that toward his latter time "that
closeness did impair and a little perish his understanding." Surely
Comineus mought have made the same judgment also, if it had pleased him,
of his second master Louis the Eleventh, whose closeness was indeed his
tormentor. The parable of Pythagoras is dark, but true: "Cor ne
edito,"--"Eat not the heart." Certainly, if a man would give it a hard
phrase, those that want friends to open themselves unto are cannibals of
their own hearts. But one thing is most admirable (wherewith I will
conclude this first fruit of friendship), 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 halves. 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. So that it is, in truth, of operation upon a man's mind of like
virtue as the alchymists use to attribute to their stone for man's body;
that it worketh all contrary effects, but still to the good and benefit
of nature. But yet without praying in aid of alchymists, there is a
manifest image of this in the ordinary course of nature: for in bodies,
union strengtheneth and cherisheth any natural action, and on the other
side, weakeneth and dulleth any violent impression; and even so it is
of minds.

The second fruit of friendship is healthful and sovereign for the
understanding, as the first is for the affections. For friendship maketh
indeed a fair day in the affections, from storm and tempests, but it
maketh daylight in the understanding, out of darkness and confusion of
thoughts. Neither is this to be understood only of faithful counsel,
which a man receiveth from his friend; but before you come to that,
certain it is that whosoever hath his mind fraught with many thoughts,
his wits and understanding do clarify and break up in the communicating
and discoursing with another; he tosseth his thoughts more easily; he
marshaleth them more orderly; he seeth how they look when they are
turned into words; finally, he waxeth wiser than himself; and that more
by an hour's discourse than by a day's meditation. It was well said by
Themistocles to the King of Persia, "That speech was like cloth of
Arras, opened and put abroad; whereby the imagery doth appear in figure:
whereas in thoughts they lie but as in packs." Neither is this second
fruit of friendship, in opening the understanding, restrained only to
such friends as are able to give a man counsel (they indeed are best);
but even without that, a man learneth of himself, and bringeth his own
thoughts to light, and whetteth his wits as against a stone, which
itself cuts not. In a word, a man were better relate himself to a statue
or picture, than to suffer his thoughts to pass in smother.

Add now, to make this second fruit of friendship complete, that other
point which lieth more open, and falleth within vulgar observation;
which is faithful counsel from a friend. Heraclitus saith well in one of
his enigmas, "Dry light is ever the best;" and certain it is, that the
light that a man receiveth by counsel from another, is drier and purer
than that which cometh from his own understanding and judgment; which is
ever infused and drenched in his affections and customs. So as 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, and there
is no such remedy against flattery of a man's self as the liberty of a
friend. Counsel is of two sorts: the one concerning manners, the other
concerning business. For the first, the best preservative to keep the
mind in health is the faithful admonition of a friend. The calling of a
man's self to a strict account is a medicine sometimes too piercing and
corrosive; reading good books of morality is a little flat and dead;
observing our faults in others is sometimes improper for our case: but
the best receipt (best I say to work and best to take) is the admonition
of a friend. It is a strange thing to behold what gross errors and
extreme absurdities many (especially of the greater sort) do commit for
want of a friend to tell them of them, to the great damage both of their
fame and fortune: for, as St. James saith, they are as men "that look
sometimes into a glass, and presently forget their own shape and favor."
As for business, a man may think, if he will, that two eyes see no more
than one; or, that a gamester seeth always more than a looker-on; or,
that a man in anger is as wise as he that hath said over the
four-and-twenty letters; or, that a musket may be shot off as well upon
the arm as upon a rest; and such other fond and high imaginations, to
think himself all in all: but when all is done, the help of good counsel
is that which setteth business straight: and if any man think that he
will take counsel, but it shall be by pieces; asking counsel in one
business of one man, and in another business of another man, it is well
(that is to say, better, perhaps, than if he asked none at all); but he
runneth two dangers: one, that he shall not be faithfully counseled; for
it is a rare thing, except it be from a perfect and entire friend, to
have counsel given, but such as shall be bowed and crooked to some ends
which he hath that giveth it: the other, that he shall have counsel
given, hurtful and unsafe (though with good meaning), and mixed partly
of mischief, and partly of remedy; even as if you would call a
physician, that is thought good for the cure of the disease you complain
of, but is unacquainted with your body; and therefore may put you in a
way for a present cure, but overthroweth your health in some other kind,
and so cure the disease and kill the patient: but a friend that is
wholly acquainted with a man's estate will beware, by furthering any
present business, how he dasheth upon the other inconvenience. And
therefore, rest not upon scattered counsels: they will rather distract
and mislead, than settle and direct.

After these two noble fruits of friendship (peace in the affections, and
support of the judgment), followeth the last fruit, which is like the
pomegranate, full of many kernels; I mean aid, and bearing a part in all
actions and occasions. Here the best way to represent to life the
manifold use of friendship, is to cast and see how many things there are
which a man cannot do himself: and then it will appear that it was a
sparing speech of the ancients to say, "that a friend is another
himself;" for that a friend is far more than himself. Men have their
time, and die many times in desire of some things which they principally
take to heart; the bestowing of a child, the finishing of a work, or the
like. If a man have a true friend, he may rest almost secure that the
care of those things will continue after him; so that a man hath, as it
were, two lives in his desires. A man hath a body, and that body is
confined to a place; but where friendship is, all offices of life are,
as it were, granted to him and his deputy; for he may exercise them by
his friend. How many things are there, which a man cannot, with any face
or comeliness, say or do himself; A man can scarce allege his own
merits with modesty, much less extol them; a man cannot sometimes brook
to supplicate, or beg, and a number of the like: but all these things
are graceful in a friend's mouth, which are blushing in a man's own. So
again, a man's person hath many proper relations which he cannot put
off. A man cannot speak to his son but as a father; to his wife but as a
husband; to his enemy but upon terms: whereas a friend may speak as the
case requires, and not as it sorteth with the person: but to enumerate
these things were endless; I have given the rule, where a man cannot
fitly play his own part, if he have not a friend he may quit the stage.


From 'The Advancement of Learning' (Book ii.)

Amongst so many great foundations of colleges in Europe, I find it
strange that they are all dedicated to professions, and none left free
to arts and sciences at large. For if men judge that learning should be
referred to action, they judge well: but in this they fall into the
error described in the ancient fable, in which the other parts of the
body did suppose the stomach had been idle, because it neither performed
the office of motion, as the limbs do, nor of sense, as the head doth;
but yet notwithstanding it is the stomach that digesteth and
distributeth to all the rest. So if any man think philosophy and
universality to be idle studies, he doth not consider that all
professions are from thence served and supplied. And this I take to be a
great cause that hath hindered the progression of learning, because
these fundamental knowledges have been studied but in passage. For if
you will have a tree bear more fruit than it hath used to do, it is not
anything you can do to the boughs, but it is the stirring of the earth
and putting new mold about the roots that must work it. Neither is it to
be forgotten, that this dedicating of foundations and dotations to
professory learning hath not only had a malign aspect and influence upon
the growth of sciences, but hath also been prejudicial to States and
governments. For hence it proceedeth that princes find a solitude in
regard of able men to serve them in causes of estate, because there is


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