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XXVI. OF SEEMING WISE.
It hath been an opinion, that the French are wiser than they seem, and the Spaniards seem wiser than they are. But howsoever it be between nations, certainly it is so between man and man. For as the Apostle saith of godliness, Having a shew of godliness, but denying the power thereof ; so certainly there are in point of wisdom and sufficiency, that do nothing or little very solemnly:1 magno conatu nugas. It is a ridiculous thing and fit for a satire to persons of judgment, to see what shifts these formalists have, and what prospectives 2 to make superficies to seem body that hath depth and bulk. Some are so close and reserved, as they will not shew their wares but by a dark light; and seem always to keep back somewhat ; and when they know within themselves they speak of that they do not well know, would nevertheless seem to others to know of that which they may not well speak. Some help themselves with countenance and gesture, and are wise by signs; as Cicero saith of Piso, that when he answered him, he fetched one of his brows up to his forehead, and bent the other down to his chin; Respondes, altero ad frontem sublato, altero ad mentum depresso supercilio, crudelitatem tibi non placere. Some think to bear it 3 by speaking a great word, and being peremptory; and go on, and take by admittance that which they cannot make good. Some, whatsoever is beyond their reach, will seem to despise or make light of it as
1 ita certe inveniuntur nonnulli qui nugantur solemniter, quum prudentes minime sint.
? et quali utantur arte quasi prospectiva. 8 se valere putant. 4 itaque nihil morantur, et pro admissis accipiunt quæ probare non possunt.
impertinent or curious ; and so would have their igno rance seem judgment. Some are never without a difference, and commonly by amusing men with a subtilty, blanch the matter;of whom A. Gellius saith, Hominem delirum, qui verborum minutiis rerum frangit pondera : [a trifler, that with verbal points and niceties breaks up the mass of matter). Of which kind also, Plato in his Protagoras bringeth in Prodicus in scorn, and maketh him make a speech that consisteth of distinctions from the beginning to the end. Generally, such men in all deliberations find ease to be of the negative side, and affect a credit to object and foretell difficulties ; for when propositions are denied, there is an end of them ; but if they be allowed, it requireth a new work; which false point of wisdom is the bane of business. To conclude, there is no decaying merchant, or inward beggar, hath so many tricks to uphold the credit of their wealth, as these empty persons have to maintain the credit of their sufficiency. Seeming wise men may make shift to get opinion ;3 but let no man choose them for employment; for certainly you were better take for business a man somewhat absurd than over-formal.4
XXVII. OF FRIENDSHIP. It had been hard for him that spake it to have put more truth and untruth together in few words, than in
I rem præterrehuntur.
3 Certe homines hac prudentia proditi opinionem vulgi facile aucupari possunt.
* quam hujusmodi formalistam fastidiosum.
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 aversation towards 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 ; [a great town is a great solitude ;] because in a great town friends are scattered ; so that there is not that fellowship, for the most part, which is in less neighbourhoods. 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 fulness 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 favourites, 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 over-match. For
1 So Ed. 1639. The original edition has flowers. 2 delicatos et imbecillis animi.
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 Cæsar, 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 Cæsar 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 senate2 till his wife had dreamt a better dream. And it seemeth his favour was so great, as Antonius, in a letter which is recited verbatim in one of Cicero's Philippics, calleth him vene
fica, witch ; as if he had enchanted Cæsar. Augustus raised Agrippa (though of mean birth) to that height, as when he consulted with Mæcenas about the marriage of his daughter Julia, Mæcenas 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 Cæsar, Sejanus had ascended to that height,3 as they two were termed and reckoned as a pair of friends. Tiberius in a letter to him saith, hæc pro amicitiâ nostrâ non occultavi ; [these things, as our friendship required, I have not concealed from you ;] and the whole senate dedi
1 Lepidus. See Plutarch in Pompey. But the occasion on which Pompey made the remark in question was Sylla's opposition to his triumph.
2 eum non senatum tam parvi habiturum, ut dimittere illum vellet, &c. 8 Tiberius Cæsar Sejanum tantis honoribus auxit.