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have secret hearts and transparent countenances; yet this would be done with a demure abasing of your eye sometimes, as the Jesuits also do use.
Another is, that when you have any thing to obtain of present dispatch, you entertain and amuse the party with whom you deal with some other discourse, that he be not too much awake to make objections. I knew a counsellor and secretary that never came to Queen Elizabeth of England, with bills to sign, but he would always first put her into some discourse of estate," that she might the less mind the bills.
The like surprise may be made by moving things, when the party is in haste, and cannot stay to consider advisedly of that is moved.
If a man would cross a business that he doubts some other would handsomely and effectually move, let him pretend to wish it well, and move it himself, in such sort as may foil it.
The breaking off in the midst of that one was about to say, as if he took himself up, breeds a greater appetite in him with whom you confer to know more.
And because it works better when any thing seemeth to be gotten from you by question than if you offer it of yourself, you may lay a bait for a question, by showing another visage and countenance than you are wont; to the end, to give occasion for the party to ask what the matter is of the change, as Nehemiah 8 did: “ And I had not, before that time, been sad before the king."
In things that are tender and unpleasing, it is good to break the ice by some whose words are of less weight, and to reserve the more weighty voice to come in as by chance, so that he may be asked the question upon the other's speech ; as Narcissus did, in relating to Claudius the marriage of Messalina and Silius.
2 Discussing matters. 8 He refers to the occasion when Nehemiah, on presenting the wine, as cup-bearer to King Artaxerxes, appeared sorrowful, and, on being asked the reason of it, entreated the king to allow Jerusalem to be rebuilt. - Nehemiah ii. 1.
In things that a man would not be seen in himself, it is a point of cunning to borrow the name of the world; as to say, “ The world says,” or “ There is a speech abroad.”
I knew one, that when he wrote a letter, he would put that which was most material in a postscript, as if it had been a by-matter.
I knew another, that when he came to have speech,2 he would pass over that that he intended most; and go forth and come back again, and speak of it as of a thing that he had almost forgot.
Some procure themselves to be surprised at such times as it is like the party that they work upon will suddenly come upon them, and to be found with a letter in their hand, or doing somewhat which they are not accustomed, to the end they may be apposed of those things which of themselves they are desirous to utter.
It is a point of cunning to let fall those words in a man's own name, which he would have another man learn and use, and thereupon take advantage. I knew two that were competitors for the secretary's place in Queen Elizabeth's time, and yet kept good
1 This can hardly be called a marriage, as, at the time of the intrigue, Messalina was the wife of Claudius; but she forced Caius Silius, of whom she was deeply enamored, to divorce his own wife, that she herself might enjoy his society. The intrigue was disclosed to Claudius by Narcissus, who was his freedman, and the pander to his infamous vices; on which Silius was put to death: -Vide Tac. Ann. xi. 29, seq. 2 To speak in his turn.
8 Be questioned upon.
quarter? between themselves, and would confer one with another upon the business; and the one of them said, that to be a secretary in the declination of a monarchy was a ticklish thing, and that he did not affect it ; 2 the other straight caught up those words, and discoursed with divers of his friends, that he had no reason to desire to be secretary in the declination of a monarchy. The first man took hold of it, and found means it was told the queen; who, hearing of a declination of a monarchy, took it so ill, as she would never after hear of the other's suit.
There is a cunning, which we in England call " the turning of the cat in the pan ;” which is, when that which a man says to another, he lays it as if another had said it to him ; and, to say truth, it is not easy, when such a matter passed between two, to make it appear from which of them it first moved and began.
It is a way that some men have, to glance and dart at others by justifying themselves by negatives; as to say, “ This I do not;” as Tigellinus did towards Burrhus: “ Se non diversas spes, sed incolumitatem imperatoris simpliciter spectare.” 8
Some have in readiness so many tales and stories, as there is nothing they would insinuate, but they can wrap it into a tale ; 4 which serveth both to keep themselves more in guard, and to make others carry it with more pleasure.
It is a good point of cunning for a man to shape the answer he would have in his own words and propositions ; for it makes the other party stick the less. )
1 Kept on good terms.
2 Desire it. 3“ That he did not have various hopes in view, but solely the safety of the emperor.” Tigellinus was the profligate minister of Nero, and Africanus Burrhus was the chief of the Prætorian Guards. — Tac. Ann. xiv. 57.
4 As Nathan did, when he reproved David for his criminality with Bathsheba. – 2 Samuel xii.
It is strange how long some men will lie in wait to speak somewhat they desire to say ; and how far about they will fetch, and how many other matters they will beat over to come near it. It is a thing of great patience, but yet of much use.
A sudden, bold, and unexpected question doth many times surprise a man, and lay him open. Like to him, that, having changed his name, and walking in Paul's,2 another suddenly came behind him and called him by his true name, whereat straightways he looked back.
But these small wares and petty points of cunning are infinite, and it were a good deed to make a list of them ; for that nothing doth more hurt in a state than that cunning men pass for wise.
But certainly, some there are that know the resorts 8 and falls 4 of business that cannot sink into the main of it; 5 like a house that hath convenient stairs and entries, but never a fair room. Therefore you shall see them find out pretty looses in the conclusion, but are noways able to examine or debate matters; and yet commonly they take advantage of their inability, and would be thought wits of direction. Some build rather upon the abusing of others, and (as we now say) putting tricks upon them, than upon soundness of their own proceedings; but Solomon saith : “Prudens advertit ad gressus suos ; stultus divertit ad dolos."?
1 Use indirect stratagems.
2 He alludes to the old Cathedral of St. Paul, in London, which, in the sixteenth century, was a common lounge for idlers.
8 Movements, or springs. 4 Chances, or vicissitudes. 5 Enter deeply into.
6 Faults, or weak points. 7" The wise man gives
own footsteps; the fool turneth aside to the snare." No doubt he here alludes to Ecclesiastes xiv. 2, which passage is thus rendered in our version: “ The wise man's eyes are in his head; but the fool walketh in darkness."
XXIII.--OF WISDOM FOR A MAN'S SELF. An ant is a wise creature for itself, but it is a shrewd thing in an orchard or garden; and certainly, men that are great lovers of themselves waste the public. Divide with reason between self-love and society; and be so true to thyself as thou be not false to others, specially to thy king and country. It is a poor centre of a man's actions, himself. It is right earth : for that only stands fast upon his own centre; 2 whereas all things that have affinity with the heavens, move upon the centre of another, which they benefit. The referring of all to a man's self is more tolerable in a sovereign prince, because themselves are not only themselves, but their good and evil is at the peril of the public fortune; but it is a desperate evil in a servant to a prince, or a citizen in a republic; for whatsoever affairs pass such a man's hands, he crooketh them to his own ends, which must needs be often eccentric to the ends of his master or state. Therefore, let princes or states choose such servants as have not this mark; except they mean their service should be made but the accessary. That which maketh the effect more pernicious is, that all proportion is lost. It were disproportion enough for the servant's good to be preferred before the master's ; but yet it is a greater extreme, when a little good of the servant shall carry things against a great good of the master's. And yet that is the case of bad officers,
2 It must be remembered that Bacon was not a favorer of the Copernican system.