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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, 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 Wife.
But certainly, some there are, that know the Resorts and Falls of Business, that cannot sink into the Main of it: 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 no ways 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 Salomon faith; Prudens advertit ad Gressus suos : Stultus divertit ad Dolos.
N Ant is a wife Creature for it Self;
but it is a shrewd Thing, in an Orchard, or Garden.
And certainly, Men that are great Lovers of Themselves, waste the Publick. Divide with reason between Self-love, and Society: and be so true to thy Self, 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 ; 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 publick Fortune. But it is a desperate Evil in a Servant to a Prince, or a Citizen in a Republick. For whatsoever Affairs pass such a Man's Hands, he crooketh them to his own Ends : which must needs be often Eccentrick to the Ends of his Master, or State. Therefore let Princes, or States, choose fuch 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, Treasurers, Ambassadors, Generals, and other false and corrupt Servants ; which set a Bias upon their Bowl, of their own petty Ends, and Envies, to the overthrow of their Master's great and important Affairs. And for the most part, the Good such Servants receive, is after the Model of their own Fortune; but the Hurt they sell for that Good, is after the Model of their Master's Fortune. And certainly, it is the Nature of extreme Self-Lovers; as they will set an House on Fire, and it were but to roast their Eggs : and yet these Men, many times, hold credit with their Masters; because their Study is but to please Them, and profit Themselves : and for either respect, they will abandon the Good of their Affairs. Wisdom for a Man's Self, is in many
Branches thereof, a depraved Thing. It is the Wisdom of Rats, that will be sure to leave a House, somewhat before it fall. It is the Wisdom of the Fox, that thrusts out the Badger, who digged and made Room for him. It is the Wisdom of Crocodiles, that shed tears, when they would devour. But that which is specially to be noted is, that those, which (as Cicero fays of Pompey) are, Sui Amantes fine Rivali, are many times unfortunate. And whereas they have all their time sacrificed to Themselves, they become in the end themselves Sacrifices to the Inconstancy of Fortune; whose Wings they thought, by their Self-Wisdom, to have pinioned.
xxiv. Of Innovations.
S the Births of Living Creatures, at first, are ill shapen; so are all Innovations, which are the Births of Time. Yet
notwithstanding, as those that first bring Honour into their family, are commonly more worthy, than most that succeed; so the first Precedent (if it be good) is seldom attained by Imitation. For Ill, to Man's Nature, as it stands perverted, hath a natural Motion, strongest in continuance: but Good, as a forced Motion, strongest at first. Surely every Medicine is an Innovation; and he that will not apply new Remedies, must expect new Evils : for Time is the greatest Innovator : and if Time, of course, alter Things to the worse, and Wisdom, and Counsel shall not alter them to the better, what shall be the End ? It is true, that what is settled by Custom, though it be not good, yet at least it is fit. And those Things, which have long gone together, are as it were confederate within themselves : whereas new Things piece not so well; but though they help by their utility, yet they trouble, by their Inconformity. Besides, they are like Strangers; more admired, and less favoured. All this is true, if Time stood still ; which contrariwise moveth fo round, that a froward Retention of Custom, is as turbulent a Thing, as an Innovation : and they that reverence too much Old Times, are but a Scorn
to the New. It were good therefore, that Men in their Innovations, would follow the Example of Time itself; which indeed innovateth greatly, but quietly, and by degrees, scarce to be perceived : for otherwise, whatsoever is new, is unlooked for; and ever it mends some, and pairs other : and he that is holpen, takes it for a Fortune, and thanks the Time; and he that is hurt, for a wrong, and imputeth it to the Author. It is good also, not to try Experiments in States ; except the Neceffity be urgent, or the Utility evident: and well to beware, that it be the Reformation, that draweth on the Change ; and not the desire of Change, that pretendeth the Reformation. And lastly, that the Novelty, though it be not rejected, yet be held for a Suspect : and, as the Scripture faith; That we make a stand upon the Ancient Way, and then look about us, and discover, what is the straight, and right way, and so to walk in it.
xxv. Of Dispatch.
FFECTED Dispatch is one of the most dangerous things to Business that can be. It is like that, which the Phyfi
cians call Predigestion, or Hasły Digestion ; which is sure to fill the Body, full of Crudities, and secret Seeds of Diseases. Therefore, measure no Dispatch, by the Times of Sitting, but by the Advancement of the Business. And as in