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preserve respect. It is in vain for princes to take Counsel concerning matters, if they take no Counsel likewise concerning persons: for all matters are as dead images; and the life of the execution of affairs resteth in the good choice of persons. Neither is it enough to consult concerning persons, "according to their kinds," as in an idea or mathematical description, what the kind and character of the person should be; for the greatest errors are committed, and the most judgment is shown in the choice of individuals. It was truly said: "The best Counsellors are dead ones, namely, books:" books will speak plain when Counsellors blanch. Therefore it is good to be conversant in them, especially the books of such as themselves have been actors upon the stage.
The Councils at this day in most places are but familiar meetings, where matters are rather talked on than debated. And they run too swift to the order or act of Counsel. It were better, that in causes of weight, the matter were propounded one day, and not spoke i till the next day: "There is wisdom in taking a night to consider." So was it done in the Commission of Union between England and Scotland, which was a grave and orderly assembly. I commend set days for petitions: for it gives both the suitors more certainty for their attendance, and it frees the meetings for matters of state, that they may " mind the especial business of the moment and no other." la choice of committees for ripening business for the Council, it is better to choose indifferent persons, than to make an indifferency, by putting in those that are strong on both sides. I commend also standing Commissions; as for trade, for treasure, for war, for suits, for some provinces: for where there b divers particular Councils, and but one Council of State (as it is in Spain), they are in effect no more than standing Commissions; save that they have greater authority. Let such as are to inform Councils out of their particular professions (as lawyers, seamen, mintmen, and the like) be first heard before Committees, and then, as occasion serves, before the Council. And let them not come in multitudes, or in a tribunitious manner; for that is to clamour Councils, not to inform them. A long table, and a square table, or seats about the walls, seem things of form, but are things of substance; for at a long table, a few at the upper end in effect sway all the business; but in the other form, there is more use of the Counsellors' opinions that sit lower. A king, when he presides in Council, let him beware how he opens his own inclination too much in that which he propounded); for else Counsellors will but take the wind of him, and, instead of giving free Counsel, sing him a song of " which they conceive will not displease."
Jr ORTUNE is like the market, where many times if you can stay a little, the price will fall. And again, it is somesimes like Sibylla's offer, which at first offereth the commodity at full, then consumeth part and part, and still holdeth up the price. For Occasion (as it is in the common verse) " turneth a bald noddle, after she hath presented her locks in front, and no hold taken;" or at least turneth the handle of the bottle first to be received, and after the belly, which is hard to clasp. There is surely no greater wisdom, than well to time the beginnings and onsets of things. Dangers are no more light, if they once seem light; and more dangers have deceived men, than forced them. Nay, it were better to meet some dangers half way, though they come nothing near, than to keep too long a watch upon their approaches; for if a man watch too long, it is odds he will fall asleep. On the other side, to be deceived with two long shadows, (as some have been, when the moon was low, and shone on their enemies' back) and so to shoot off before the time; or to teach dangers to come on, by overearly buckling towards them, is another extreme. The ripeness or unripeness of the occasion (as we said) must ever be well weighed; and generally it is good to commit the beginnings of all great actions to Argus with his hundred eyes, and the ends to Briareus with his hundred hands; first to watch, and then to speed. For the helmet of Pluto, which maketh the politic man go invisible, is secrecy in the counsel, and celerity in the execution. For when things are once come to the execution, there is no secrecy comparable to celerity; like the motion of a bullet in the air, which flieth so swift, as it outruns the eye.
W E take Cunning for a sinister or crooked wisdom. And certainly there is great difference between a cunning man and a wise man, not only in point of honesty, but in point of ability. There be that can pack the cards, and yet cannot play well: so there are some that are good in canvasses and factions, that are otherwise weak meD. Again it is one thing to understand persons, and another thing to understand matters; for many are perfect in men's humours, that are not greatly capable of the real part of business, which is the constitution of one that hath studied men more than books. Such men are fitter for practice than for counsel: and they are good but in their own alley; turn them to new men, and they have lost their aim: so as the old rule to know a fool from a wise man, "Send them both naked before strangers, and then you will see what they are," doth scarce hold for them. And because these Cunning Men are like haberdashers of small wares, it is not amiss to set forth their shop.
It is a point of Cunning to wait upon him with whom you speak, with your eye, as the Jesuits give it in precept: for there may be many wise men that 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.