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than those that are general. The reparation of a denial is sometimes equal to the first grant, if a man show himself neither dejected nor discontented. 'Iniquum petas, ut aequum feras '' is a good rule where a man hath strength of favour; but otherwise, a man were better rise in his suit, for he that would have ventured at first to have lost! the suitor, will not, in the conclusion, lose both the suitor and his own former favour.
Nothing is thought so easy a request to a great person, as his letter; and yet, if it be not in a good cause, it is so much out of his reputation. There are no worse instruments than these general contrivers of suits, for they are but a kind of poison and infection to public proceedings.
'If it be not in a good cause, it is so much out of his
To this very just and important remark Bacon might have added, that even in 'a good cause,' a recommendation of any one is likely to be regarded as a favour asked, for which a return will be expected. Nor is this, perhaps, altogether unreasonable. For, a Minister of State, for instance, may say, 'If we had wanted your advice for our own sake, we should have consulted you; but if you offer a suggestion unasked, our complying with it must be reckoned a kindness done to you, for which we may expect a return.' And one who has laid himself under an obligation to a Minister, if he is afterwards asked to vote, or to dispense patronage, contrary to his own judgment, must feel it very awkward either to comply or to refuse.
The best course, in general, is to write a letter to the person himself whose views you would promote, expressing your opinion of him, with liberty to show the letter, and to make reference to you for character.
ESSAY L. OF STUDIES.
STUDIES serve for delight, for ornament, and for ability. Their chief use for delight, is in privateness1 and retiring; for ornament, is in discourse; and for ability, is in the judgment and disposition of business. For, expert men can execute, and perhaps judge of particulars, one by one; but the general counsels, and the plots and marshalling of affairs, come best from those that are learned. To spend too much time in studies, is sloth; to use them too much for ornament, is affectation; to make2 judgment wholly by their rules, is the humour of a scholar; they perfect nature, and are perfected by experience—for natural abilities are like natural plants, that need pruning by study; and studies themselves do give forth directions too much at large, except they be bounded in by experience. Crafty men contemn studies, simple men admire them, and wise men use them, for they teach not their own use; but that is a wisdom without them, and above them, won by observation.
Read not to contradict and confute, nor to believe and take for granted, nor to find talk and discourse, but to weigh and consider. Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts; others to be read, but not curiously ;3 and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention. Some books also may be read by deputy, and extracts made of them by others; but that would4 be only in the less important arguments, and the meaner sort of books; else distilled books are, like common distilled waters, flashy things. Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man; and, therefore, if a man write little, he had need have a great memory; if he confer little, he had
need have a present wit; and if he read little, he had need have much cunning, to seem to know that1 he doth not.
Histories make men wise; poets witty; the mathematics subtle; natural philosophy deep; moral, grave; logic and rhetoric, able to contend: 'Abeunt studia in mores' *—nay, there is no stond3 or impediment in the wit, but may be wrought4 out by fit studies, like as diseases of the body may have appropriate exercises—bowling is good for the stone and reins,5 shooting for the lungs and breast, gentle walking for the stomach, riding for the head, and the like. So, if a man's wits be wandering, let him study the mathematics; for in demonstrations, if his wit be called away never so little, he must begin again; if his wit be not apt to distinguish or find differences,6 let him study the schoolmen, for they are 'cymini sectores;'' if he be not apt to beat over matters, and to call upon one thing to prove and illustrate another, let him study the lawyers' cases—so every defect of the mind may have a special receipt.
* Studies serve for delight, for ornament, and for ability. '
We should, then, cultivate, not only the corn-fields of our minds, but the pleasure-grounds also. Every faculty and every study, however worthless they may be, when not employed in the service of God,—however debased and polluted when devoted to the service of sin,—become ennobled and sanctified, when directed, by one whose constraining motive is the love of Christ, towards a good object. Let not the Christian then think 'scorn of the pleasant land.' That land is the field of ancient and modern literature—of philosophy, in almost all its departments—of the arts of reasoning and persuasion. Ever}' part of it may be cultivated with advantage, as the Land of Canaan when bestowed upon God's peculiar People. They were not commanded to let it lie waste, as incurably polluted by the abominations of its first inhabitants; but to cultivate it, and dwell in it, living in obedience to the divine laws, and dedicating its choicest fruits to the Lord their God.
'Crafty men contemn studies. '
It is not unlikely that by the ' crafty ' (in the Latin 'callidi') Bacon meant not exactly what the word now denotes, but—in agreement with the ancient use of the word 'craft,' for an occupation '—what we commonly call practical men;—those expert in the details of business, and exclusively conversant in these. Some such men resemble a clock with a minute-hand but no hour-hand. These are apt to take for granted that a student, and especially an author, must be unfit for business. And the vulgar sometimes go further, and are disposed to give a man credit for practical sagacity, merely on account of his being illiterate.
It is worth observing that some of those who disparage some branch of study in which they are deficient, will often affect more contempt for it than they really feel. And not unfrequently they will take pains to have it thought that they are themselves well versed in it, or that they easily might be, if they thought it worth while;—in short, that it is not from hanging too high that the grapes are called sour.
Thus, Swift, in the person of Gulliver, represents himself, while deriding the extravagant passion for Mathematics among the Laputans, as being a good mathemetician. Yet he betrays his utter ignorance, by speaking of 'a pudding in the form of a cycloid:' evidently taking a cycloid for a figure, instead of a line. This may help to explain the difficulty he is said to have had in obtaining his Degree.
Lord Chesterfield, again, when writing to his son in disparagement of classical studies, gives him to understand that he is himself quite at home in the classics. But when he proceeds to criticise Homer for celebrating the courage of Achilles, who could show none, being invulnerable, he betrays his having never read even a translation of the Iliad. For not only does Homer make no mention of his hero's being invulnerable, but he even represents him as receiving a wound; and a great part of the poem turns on his being detained from the fight for want of his armour.
The contempt of studies, whether of crafty men or narrowminded men, often finds its expression in the word 'smattering;' and the couplet is become almost a proverb,
'A little learning is a dangerous thing;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring.'
But the poet's remedies for the dangers of a little learning are both of them impossible. None can ' drink deep' enough to be, in truth, anything more than very superficial; and every human Being, that is not a downright idiot, must taste.
It is plainly impossible that any man should acquire a knowledge of all that is to be known, on all subjects. But is it then meant that, on each particular subject on which he does learn anything at all, he should be perfectly well informed? Here it may fairly be asked, what is the ' well?'—how much knowledge is to be called 'little' or 'much?' For, in many departments, the very utmost that had been acquired by the greatest proficients, a century and a half back, falls short of what is familiar to many a boarding-school miss now. And it is likely that our