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things concerning the nature of fame. Fame is of that force, as1 there is scarcely any great action wherein it hath not a great part, especially in the war. Mucianus undid* Vitellius by a fame that he scattered, that Vitellius had in purpose to move the legions of Syria into Germany, and the legions of Germany into Syria; whereupon the legions of Syria were infinitely inflamed.* Julius Caesar took Pompey unprovided, and laid asleep his industry and preparations by a fame that he cunningly gave out, how Caesar's own soldiers loved him not; and being wearied with the wars, and laden with the spoils of Gaul, would forsake him as soon as he came into Italy.4 Livia settled all things for the succession of her son Tiberius, by continually giving out that her husband Augustus was upon recovery and amendment; * and it is a usual thing with the bashaws to conceal the death of the great Turk from the janizaries and men of war, to save the sacking of Constantinople, and other towns, as their manner is. Themistocles made Xerxes, King of Persia, post apace" out of Grecia,7 by giving out that the Grecians had a purpose to break his bridge of ships which he had made athwart9 the Hellespont.9 There be a thousand such like examples, and the more they are, the less they need to be repeated, because a man meeteth with them everywhere; wherefore, let all wise governors have as great a watch and care over fames, as they have of the actions and designs themselves.
1 As. That. See page 23.
s Undid. Ruined. (Not so frequently used in this sense as are the other tenses of the verb *to undo.')
'Where, with like haste, through several ways they run, Some to undo, and some to be undone.'—Denham. 'Tacit. Hist. ii. 80. * Cass, de Bell. Civ. i. 6.
6 Tacit. Ann. i. 5.
* Apace. Speedily.
'Ay, quoth my uncle Glo'ster,
7 Grecia. Greece. 'Through his riches he shall stir up all against the realm of Grecia.'—Dan. xi. 2.
8 Athwart. Acrots.
• Vid. Herod, viii. 108, 109.
[This Essay is reckoned a fragment, as it is supposed Bacon must have written much more on the subject: but it is complete as far as it goes; and there are many of the other Essays that would have borne to be much enlarged.]
'Fame is of that force as there is scarcely any great action wherein it hath not a great part, as .... a man meeteth with them everywhere.'
By 'fame,' Bacon means what we call 'report/ or 'rumour/ or the French on dit.
One remarkable instance of the effects produced by rumours might be added to those Bacon mentions. When Buonaparte's return from Elba was plotted, his partisans went all about France, pretending to seek to purchase land; and when in treaty for a field, and seemingly about to close the bargain, they inquired about the title; and when they found, as they generally did, that it was land which had been confiscated at the Revolution, they broke off at once, declaring that the title was insecure: thus spreading throughout France the notion that the Bourbons meditated the resumption of all those lands—the chief part of France—to restore them to the former owners. And thus, most of the proprietors were eager for their downfall.
Some remarks on political predictions, already made in my notes on the Essay 'Of Prophecies,' might come in under this head.
'Let all wise governors have as great a watch and care over fames as they have of the actions and designs themselves.'
The necessity of this watchfulness from the effects produced by them seems to have been recognised at a very early period in our legislative history. We have before noticed a statute respecting them made in the reign of Edward the First. It enacts that'forasmuch as there have been oftentimes found in the country Devisors of Tales, whereby discord [or occasion] of discord hath arisen many times between the King and his people, or great men of this realm; for the damage that hath and may thereof ensue; it is commanded, that from henceforth none be so hardy to tell or publish any false news or tales, whereby discord, or [matter] of discord or slander may grow between the King and his people, or the great men of the realm; and he that doth so shall be taken and kept in prison, until he hath brought him into the Court which was the first which did speak the same.'—3 Edw. I. Stat. Westmonast. 1, c. xxxiv.
The framing and circulating of 'politic fames' might have been set down by Bacon as one of the points of cunning.
THE PRAISE OF KNOWLEDGE.
SILENCE were the best celebration of that which I mean to commend; for who would not use silence, where silence is not made? and what crier can make silence in such a noise and tumult of vain and popular opinions? My praise shall be dedicated to the mind itself. The mind is the man, and the knowledge of the mind. A man is but what he knoweth. The mind itself is but an accident to knowledge, for knowledge is a double of that which is. The truth of being, and the truth of knowing, is all one; and the pleasures of the affections greater than the pleasures of the senses. And are not the pleasures of the intellect greater than the pleasures of the affections? Is it not a true and only natural pleasure, whereof there is no satiety? Is it not knowledge that doth alone clear the mind of all perturbations? How many things are there which we imagine not! How many things do we esteem and value otherwise than they are! This ill-proportioned estimation, these vain imaginations, these be the clouds of error that turn into the storms of perturbation. Is there any such happiness as for a man's mind to be raised above the confusion of things, where he may have the prospect of the order of nature, and the error of men? Is this but a vein only of delight, and not of discovery ?—of contentment and not of benefit? Shall we not as well discern the riches of nature's warehouse as the benefit of her shop? Is truth ever barren? Shall we not be able thereby to produce worthy effects, and to endow the life of man with infinite commodities? But shall I make this garland to be put upon a wrong head? Would anybody believe me if I should verify this, upon the knowledge that is now in use? Are we the richer by one poor invention, by reason of all the learning that hath been these many hundred years? The industry of artificers maketh some small improvement of things invented; and chance sometimes, in experimenting,1 maketh us to stumble upon some1 Experimenting. To make experiments. 'Francisco Redi, by experimenting found that . . . .'—Ray.
what which is new; but all the disputation of the learned never brought to light one effect of nature before unknown. When things are known and found out, then they can descant upon them, they can knit them into certain causes, they can reduce them to their principles. If any instance of experience stand against them, they can range it in order by some distinctions. But all this is but a web of the wit;' it can work nothing. I do not doubt but that common notions, which we call reason, and the knitting of them together, which we call logic, are the art of reason and studies. But they rather cast obscurity, than gain light to2 the contemplation of nature.
All the philosophy of nature which is now received, is either the philosophy of the Grecians, or that of the alchemists. That of the Grecians hath the foundations in words, in ostentation, in confutation, in sects, in schools, in disputations. The Grecians were, as one of themselves saith, you Grecians, ever children? They knew little antiquity; they knew, except fables, not much above five hundred years before themselves. They knew but a small portion of the world. That of the alchemists hath the foundation in imposture, in auricular traditions and obscurity. It was catching hold of religion, but the principle of it is, Populus vult decipi* So that I know no great difference between these great philosophers, but that the one is a loud crying folly, and the other is a whispering folly. The one is gathered out of a few vulgar observations, and the other out of a few experiments of a furnace. The one never faileth to multiply words, and the other ever faileth to multiply gold. Who would not smile at Aristotle, when he admireth the eternity and invariableness of the heavens, as there were not the like in the bowels of the earth? Those be the confines and borders of these two kingdoms, where the continual alteration and incursion are. The superficies and upper parts of the earth are full of varieties. The superficies and lower parts of the heavens, which we call the middle region of the air, are full of variety. There is much spirit in the one part that cannot be brought into mass. There is much massy body in the other
1 Wit. Intellect. 'Will puts in practice what the wit deviscth.'—Davits. * To. For. Seepage 248.
3 Plato. See Advancement of Learning, book i.
4 The people wish to be deceived.