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that no man is called hard-hearted for not letting his land or his house rent-free, or for requiring to be paid for the use of his horse, or his ship, or any other kind of property.
As for the lending of money making 'fewer merchants,' and causing money to lie still,' it is evident that this is the very reverse of the fact; as indeed is hinted in the Essay. Great part of the trade and manufactures in every prosperous country is carried on with borrowed capital, lent by those who have not the skill and leisure to carry on such business themselves; and who, if they were prevented from thus investing their capital, would be driven either to let their money lie still’in a strong box, or else to engage in a business for which they were not fitted.
If I build a mill or a ship, and let it to a manufacturer or merchant, every one would allow that this is a very fair way of investing capital ; quite as fair, and much wiser, than if, being ignorant of manufactures and trade, I were to set up as a manufacturer or merchant. Now, if instead of this, I lend a merchant money to buy or build a ship for himself, or advance money to the manufacturer to erect his buildings and machinery, he will probably suit himself better than if I had taken this on myself, without his experience.
No doubt, advantage is often taken of a man's extreme necessity, to demand high interest, and exact payment with rigour. But it is equally true that advantage is taken, in some crowded town, of a man's extreme need of a night's lodging. And it is but too well known, that where there is an excessive competition for land, as almost the sole mode of obtaining a subsistence, it is likely that an exorbitant rent will be asked, and that this will be exacted with unbending severity. But who would thereupon propose that the letting of land should be prohibited, or that a maximum of rent should be fixed by law ? For, legislative interposition in dealings between man and man, except for the prevention of fraud, generally increases the evil it seeks to remedy. A prohibition of interest, or—which is only a minor degree of the same error-a prohibition of any beyond a certain fixed rate of interest, has an effect similar to that of a like interference between the buyers and sellers of any other commodity. If, for example, in a time of scarcity it were enacted, on the ground that cheap food is desirable, that bread
and meat should not be sold beyond such and such a price, the result would be that every one would be driven-unless he would submit to be starved—to evade the law; and he would have to pay for his food more than he otherwise would, to cover (1) the cost of the contrivances for the evasion of the law, and (2) a compensation to the seller for the risk, and also for the discredit, of that evasion. Even so, a man who is in want of money, and can find no one to lend it him at legal interest, is either driven (as Bacon himself remarks), to sell his property at a ruinous loss, or else he borrows of some Jew, who contrives to evade the law; and he has to pay for that evasion. Suppose, for instance, he could borrow (if there were no usury laws) at eight per cent., he will have to pay, perhaps, virtually, twelve per cent., because (1) he has to resort to a man who incurs disgrace by his trade, and who will require a greater profit to compensate for the discredit; and (2) he will have to receive part of his loan in goods which he does not want, at an exorbitant price, or in some other way to receive less, really, than he does nominally.
ESSAY XLII. OF YOUTH AND AGE.
MAN that is young in years may be old in hours, if he A have lost no time; but that happeneth rarely. Generally, youth is like the first cogitations, not so wise as the second, for there is a youth in thoughts as well as in ages ; and yet the invention of young men is more lively than that of old, and imaginations stream into their minds better, and, as it were, more divinely. Natures that have much heat, and great and violent desires and perturbations, are not ripe for action till they have passed the meridian of their years; as it was with Julius Cæsar and Septimius Severus, of the latter of whom it is said, • Juventutem egit, erroribus, imo furoribus plenam :'' and yet he was the ablest emperor almost of all the list; but reposed ? natures may do well in youth, as it is seen in Augustus Cæsar, Cosmus Duke of Florence, Gaston de Fois, and others. On the other side, heat and vivacity in age is an excellent composition 3 for business. Young men are fitter to invent than to judge, fitter for execution than for counsel, and fitter for new projects than for settled business ; for the experience of age, in things that fall within the compass of it, directeth them, but in new things abuseth * them. The errors of young men are the ruin of business, but the errors of aged men amount but to this—that more might have been done, or sooner. Young men, in the conduct and manages of actions, embrace more than they can hold; stir more than they can quiet; fly to the end, without consideration of the means and degrees; pursue some few principles which they have chanced upon, absurdly; care not to innovate, which
1. His youth was not only full of errors, but of frantic passions.'—Spartian, Vit. Sev.
2 Reposed. Calm. With wondrous reposedness of mind, and gentle words, Reputation answered.'-- Translation of Boccalini, 1626.
3 Composition. Temperament. See page 354. * Abuse. To deceive; to lead astray.
Nor be with all those tempting words abused.?—Pope, s Manage. Management.
•The manage of my state.'--Shakespire. 6 Care not. Are not cautious.
worse, when no superior and purifying principle has been implanted. Some people fancy that a man grows good by growing old, without taking any particular pains about it. But .The older the crab-tree, the more crabs it bears,' says the proverb. Unless a correcting principle be engrafted, though a man may, perhaps, outgrow the vices and follies of youth, other vices, and even worse, will come in their stead. If, indeed, a wilding tree be grafted, when young, with a good fruit tree, then, the older it is, if it be kept well pruned, the more good fruit it will
'A man that is young in years may be old in hours, if he have lost
no time.' Many are apt to overlook, with regard to mental qualifications, what Bacon has here said, that the junior in years may be the senior in experience. And this may be, not only from bis having had better opportunities, but also from his understanding better how to learn from experience. “Several different men, who have all had equal, or even the very same, experience,—that is, have been witnesses or agents in the same transactions,—will often be found to resemble so many different men looking at the same book: one, perhaps, though he distinctly sees black marks on white paper, has never learned his letters; another can read, but is a stranger to the language in which the book is written; another has an acquaintance with the language, but understands it imperfectly; another is familiar with the language, but is a stranger to the subject of the book, and lacks power or previous instruction to enable him fully to take in the author's drift; while another again perfectly comprehends the whole.
• The object that strikes the eye is to all of these persons the same; the difference of the impressions produced on the mind of each is referable to the differences in their minds.' . And this explains the fact, which I have already touched upon in the notes on the Essay Of seeming Wise,' namely, the great discrepancy that we find in the results of what are called Experience and Common-sense, as contradistinguished from Theory.
i Political Economy, Lect. iii.
• Men are apt not to consider with sufficient attention, what it is that constitutes Experience in each point; so that frequently one man shall have credit for much Experience in what relates to the matter in hand, and another, who, perhaps, possesses as much, or more, shall be underrated as wanting it. The vulgar, of all ranks, need to be warned, first, that time alone does not constitute Experience; so that many years may have passed over a man's head, without his even having had the same opportunities of acquiring it, as another, much younger : secondly, that the longest practice in conducting any business in one way, does not necessarily confer any experience in conducting it in a different way. For instance, an experienced Husbandman, or Minister of State, in Persia, would be much at a loss in Europe; and if they had some things less to learn than an entire novice, on the other hand they would have much to unlearn; and, thirdly, that merely being conversant about a certain class of subjects, does not confer Experience in a case, where the Operations, and the End proposed, are different. It is said that there was an Amsterdam merchant, who had dealt largely in corn all his life, who had never seen a field of wheat growing: this man had doubtless acquired, by Experience, an accurate judgment of the qualities of each description of corn, -of the best methods of storing it,—of the arts of buying and selling it at proper times, &c.; but he would have been greatly at a loss in its cultivation ; though he had been, in a certain way, long conversant about corn. Nearly similar is the Experience of a practised lawyer, (supposing him to be nothing more,) in a case of Legislation. Because he has been long conversant about Law, the unreflecting attribute great weight to his legislative judgment; whereas his constant habits of fixing his thoughts on what the law is, and withdrawing it from the irrelevant question of what the law ought to be ;-his careful observance of a multitude of rules, (which afford the more scope for the display of his skill, in proportion as they are arbitrary and unaccountable,) with a studied indifference as to that which is foreign from his business, the convenience or inconvenience of those Rules—may be expected to operate unfavourably on his judgment in questions of Legis lation : and are likely to counterbalance the advantages of his superior knowledge, even in such points as do bear on the question.