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called strikes; too high wages and too low wages are both evils to be dreaded as utterly incompatible with permanent prosperity in trade; if low wages deteriorate workmanship, trade suffers, though in the interim employers may perhaps have made large profits; and if strikes or other combinations force wages up abnormally high, so that trade is driven out of the country, the workmen themselves must ultimately suffer, although in the interim they may have temporarily
secured a very high rate of wages. 4. ‘right earth'-exactly what the earth does, maintains itself as
the centre of the universe. Bacon here distinctly adopts the
Right is here an adverb (Latin recte), as in Go right on;
right against Jericho'-7 osh. iii, 16. 5. his own'—for its own, as we should now say. But its is a
modern and really incorrect word of very rare occurrence in the literature of this period. We have now made it the possessive case of the neuter pronoun it, corresponding to the masculine and feminine his and her. Before the form its was coined the old form it was used :
*Do, child, go to it grandam'- Shakespeare's King John.
-Matt. vi, 34 (Geneva ver.).
The iron gate opened unto them of his own accord'-Acts xii, 10. 6. Because the public interests are more directly involved with their
7. desperate'-heinous, extremely bad. 8. eccentric to'—not coinciding with.
His master's or the public interests revolve around a certain centre, his own interests around another centre, so that they must necessarily
cross and clash with one another. 9. 'mark'-characteristic of selfishness. If he does choose a
self-seeking servant he must know that just as two circles with different centres can only partially coincide with one another, so he must expect his own interests to be 'accessary,' i.e. disregarded except when they happen to coincide with
his servant's interests. 10. Thus, a corrupt judge will thwart the ends of justice (which is
a very serious matter) for the sake of pocketing a bribe himself (which is a very paltry matter).
But the evils referred to may perhaps be best seen in some department of life, the actual administration of which has to be entirely entrusted to others, and which therefore is very liable to be vitiated by want of integrity in the subordinates employed-horse-racing for example. There can be no doubt that this sport, in itself legitimate and beneficial, has been thoroughly demoralised and degraded in the public estimation, mainly by the unprincipled practices that are too often associated with it. The owner of the best horse in the field may lose the race, and thousands of pounds in consequence, if the jockey employed to ride for him is an unprincipled man, whose bets or bribe will bring him in an additional fiity
pounds in the event of his own master losing. 11. bias upon their bowl'—what, in cricket and other like games,
is called 'giving the ball a twist,' i.e. sending it in a different direction from that of the propelling force. Bacon's illustra
tion is taken from the game of bowls. 12. 'an it were'-if it were, even were it. An is said by some philo
logists to be the imperative of an Old English verb unnan, to grant or give; just as from give we get if (formerly gif) and gin (=given; gin a body kiss a body'—Popular song).
It may however be nothing more than the common conjunction and, and equivalent to even.
* It dies, and if (even if) it had a thousand lives '-1 Henry VI, V, iv, 75. 13. 'Lovers of themselves without a rival.'
ANALYSIS OF ESSAY XXIII. 1. Self-love ought to be co-ordinate with love for others. 2. In kings it is excusable, but in their subordinates pernicious. 3. Self-love is a depraved thing (most fitly compared to instincts
of rats, foxes, crocodiles), and often ruinous to its practiser.
XXIV.-OF INNOVATIONS.1 (1625.) As the births2 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 ;3 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 course4 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;5 and those things which have long gone together, are, as it were, confederate within themselves; whereas new things piece not so well ; 6 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 so round, that a froward retention 8 of custom is as turbulento 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 11 other; and he that is holpen,12 takes it for a fortune, 13 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 necessity 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 14 the reformation; and lastly, that the novelty, though it be not rejected, yet be held for a suspect,15 and, as the Scripture saith, ' 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.' 16
NOTES ON ESSAY XXIV. 1. 'innovations '—the introduction of changes or novelties into
anything established by custom.
The naturally conservative tendencies of mankind have made the word innovation almost always synonymous with a change for the worse. Bacon's reserence below to medicine as “an innovation,' is so apologetic, that it can hardly be
regarded as an exception to the rule. 2. .births '-offspring, young. The word birth, commonly used
to denote the act of coming into life, is here used for that which is born.
‘Poets are far rarer births than kings'-BEN JONSON. 3. seldom attained by imitation'-i.e. the excellence of that
which comes first is seldom equalled by what follows.
Bacon's belief, according to what he says immediately afterwards, is, that man's nature is so perverse and depraved that nothing but evil can have a permanently strong influence over him ; and that goodness is never natural to him (being
a forced motion'), and its influence gets weaker and weaker. This is a very gloomy, and, it is to be hoped, incorrect doctrine: the truth seems to be that both good and evil impulses act at first with more energy and violence, but that afterwards the impulses become moulded into habits ('in continuance'), which are far stronger, but work with less
violence. 4. of course'-in its natural course. 5. “it is fit?—other things have settled down in conformity with
it, and though in theory it may seem indesensible, yet in practice it is found to work very well.
Thus the system of purchase in the army was in theory thoroughly unsound, and yet it worked well, and gave to the army the inestimable advantage of thoroughly excellent and high-class officers.
And the 'pocket-boroughs,' as part of a supposed system of election of members of Parliament, were a great scandal, but there can be no doubt that in very many instances they were the means of sending to Parliament men of greater abilities, higher statesmanship, and larger and more solid knowledge of political affairs, than many of those who are now returned
by a system of thoroughly popular election. 6. piece not so well’-do not fit in so exactly with other pieces. 7. 'admired'-wondered at.
You have displaced the mirth, broke the good meeting,
8. froward retention '-obstinate retaining (of things which
really need removal). 9. •turbulent'_troublesome, irksome. 10. "scorn'-laughing-stock, object of scorn.
pairs '-impairs, injures. So pairer is an obsolete word for injurer, and pairment for injury.
The verbs pair and impair seem used as synonymous by Spenser. They have different origin, pair in this sense being connected with French pire, Latin pejor, and impair with Latin par, paris.
'Despair breeds not (quoth he) where faith is staid.
-Faerie Queene, vii, 41. 12. holpen '—now obsolete ; but certainly more euphonious than
the modern word helped, which moreover is ambiguous, the
same form standing for past tense and perfect participle. 13. • fortune'-stroke of good luck. 14. • pretendeth'-is used as a pretext for. 15. suspect'-person under suspicion. If a novelty is forced on
you, yet you should regard it as a thing untried, and of whose fitness it is well to be suspicious.
We also use convict for a convicted person ; content (House of Lords) for a contented person ; and graduate for a person
who has graduated. 16. Quoted, but not accurately, from Jer. vi, 16.
ANALYSIS OF ESSAY XXIV.
1. They are necessitated by the course of time.
3. They are suitable for the cure of new evils.
1. They remove things which, if not good, are yet fit.
1. To change very gradually, as time does.
not vice versa.