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II. clearing'-paying off debts and incumbrances. In doing this,
Bacon says that a man has to choose between two burden. some courses, either instantly to curtail expenses, and sell off what he does not require, no matter how great the incon. venience may be, or to borrow the money for paying the debts, and taking the burden of having to pay this off with interest. Of these two Bacon seems to think the latter course preferable, as more likely to induce the habit of frugality. straits’-difficulties ; lit. =narrow ways (Latin stricta), in opposition to ample means. Cf. 'Sirait is the gate, and
narrow is the way that leadeth to life'—Matt. vii, 14. 13. 'return not’-do not occur periodically. In expenditure on
wines, clothing, and household expenses, a man should restrict himself, because these are constant charges ; but on the marriage of an only child, or the coming of age of his heir, he may be more profuse because these are not occasions that will occur again.
ANALYSIS OF ESSAY XXVIII. I. Riches are to be spent-on extraordinary occasions, liberally ;
on ordinary occasions prudently. II. Rules for regulating expenses :
1. Spend in ordinary charges only a fixed proportion (half
or third) of income.
(a.) Too proud,
(c.) Too fearful
to look after your expenses.
your expenditure to fixed sums.
XXIX.-OF THE TRUE GREATNESS OF KING
DOMS AND ESTATES. (1612, enlarged 1625.) The speech of Themistocles, the Athenian, which was haughty and arrogant, in taking so much to himself, had been a grave and wise observation and censure, applied at large to others. Desired at a feast to touch a lute, he said, 'He could not fiddle, but yet he could make a small town a great city. These words (holpen a little with a metaphor 3) may express two different abilities in those that deal in business of estate ; for if a true survey be taken of counsellors and statesmen, there may be found (though rarely) those which can make a small state great, and yet cannot fiddle: as, on the other side, there will be found a great many that can fiddle very cunningly,4 but yet are so far from being able to make a small state great, as their gift lieth the other way,—to bring a great and flourishing estate to ruin and decay. And certainly, those degenerate arts and shifts5 whereby many counsellors and governors gain both favour with their masters and estimation with the vulgar, deserve no better name than fiddling ; being things rather pleasing for the time, and graceful to themselves only, than tending to the weal and advancement of the state which they serve. There are also (no doubt) counsellors and governors which may be held sufficient, 'negotiis pares,' able to manage affairs, and to keep them from precipices and manifest inconveniences; which, nevertheless, are far from the ability to raise and amplify an estate in power, means, and fortune: but be the workmen what they may be, let us speak of the work; that is, the true greatness of kingdoms and estates, and the means thereof. An argument? fit for great and mighty princes to have in their hand; to the end, that neither by over-measuring their forces, they lose themselves in vain enterprises : nor, on the other side, by undervaluing them, they descend to fearful and pusillanimous counsels.
The greatness of an estate, in bulk and territory, doth fall under measure ;8 and the greatness of finances and revenue doth fall under computation. The population may appear by musters; and the number and greatness of cities and towns by cards and maps; but yet there is not anything amongst civil affairs more subject to error than the right valuation and true judgment concerning the power and forces of an estate. The Kingdom of
Heaven is compared, not to any great kernel, or nut, but to a grain of mustard-seed;9 which is one of the least grains, but hath in it a property and spirit hastily to get up and spread. So are there states great in territory, and yet not apt to enlarge or command; and some that have but a small dimension of stem, and yet apt to be the foundations of great monarchies.
Walled towns, stored arsenals and armories, goodly races of horse, chariots of war, elephants, ordnance, artillery, and the like; all this is but a sheep in a lion's skin, except the breed and disposition of the people be stout 10 and warlike. Nay, number itself in armies importeth not much, where the people is of weak courage; for, as Virgil 11 saith, 'It never troubles a wolf how many the sheep be. The army of the Persians in the plains of Arbela 12 was such a vast sea of people, as it did somewhat astonish the commanders in Alexander's army, who came to him, therefore, and wished him to set upon them by night; but he answered, “He would not pilfer the victory :' and the defeat was easy. When Tigranes, 13 the Armenian, being encamped upon a hill with four hundred thousand men, discovered the army of the Romans, being not above fourteen thousand, marching towards him, he made himself merry with it, and said, • Yonder men are too many for an ambassage, and too few for a fight;' but before the sun set, he found them enow to give him the chase with infinite slaughter. Many are the examples of the great odds 14 between number and courage : so that a man may truly make a judgment, that the principal point of greatness in any state is to have a race of military men. Neither is money the sinews of war (as it is trivially said), where the sinews of men's arms in base and effeminate people are failing : for Solon 15 said well to Cræsus (when in ostentation he showed him his gold), “Sir, if any other come that hath better iron than you, he will be master of all this gold.' Therefore, let any prince, or state, think soberly of his forces, except his militia of natives be of good and valiant soldiers; and let princes, on the other side, that have
subjects of martial disposition, know their own strength, unless they be otherwise wanting unto themselves. As for mercenary 16 forces (which is the help in this case), all examples show that, whatsoever estate, or prince, doth rest upon them, he may spread his feathers for a time, but he will mew them 17 soon after.
The blessing of Judah and Issachar 18 will never meet; that the same people, or nation, should be both the lion's whelp and the ass between burdens; neither will it be, that a people overlaid with taxes should ever become valiant and martial. It is true that taxes, levied by consent of the estate, do abate men's courage less; as it hath been seen notably in the excises of the Low Countries; and, in some degree, in the subsidies of England; for, you must note, that we speak now of the heart, and not of the purse; so that, although the same tribute and tax, laid by consent or by imposing, be all one to the purse, yet it works diversely upon the
courage. So that you may conclude, that no people overcharged with tribute is fit for empire. 19
Let states that aim at greatness take heed how their nobility and gentlemen do multiply too fast; for that maketh the common subject grow to be a peasant and base swain, driven out of heart, and in effect but the gentleman's labourer. Even as you may see in coppice woods; if you leave your staddles 20 too thick, you shall never have clean underwood, but shrubs and bushes. So in countries, if the gentlemen be too many, the commons will be base; and you will bring it to that, that not the hundred poll 21 will be fit for a helmet: especially as to the infantry, which is the nerve of an army; and so there will be great population and little strength. This which I speak of hath been nowhere better seen than by comparing of England and France; whereof England, though far less in territory and population, hath been (nevertheless) an overmatch; in regard 22 the middle people of England make good soldiers, which the peasants of France do not: and herein the device of King Henry the Seventh 23 (whereof I have spoken largely in the his
tory of his life) was profound and admirable; in making farms and houses of husbandry of a standard ; that is, maintained with such a proportion of land unto them as may breed a subject to live in convenient plenty, and no servile condition; and to keep the plough in the hands of the owners, and not mere hirelings; and thus indeed you shall attain to Virgil's character, which he gives to ancient Italy :
• Terra potens armis atque ubere glebæ.' 24 Neither is that state (which, for anything I know, is almost peculiar to England, and hardly to be found anywhere else, except it be, perhaps, in Poland) to be passed over ; I mean the state of free servants and attendants upon noblemen and gentlemen, which are no ways inferior unto the yeomanry for arms; and, therefore, out of all question, the splendour and magnificence, and great retinues, and hospitality of noblemen and gentlemen received into custom, do much conduce unto martial greatness; whereas, contrariwise, the close and reserved "living of noblemen and gentlemen causeth a penury of military forces.
By all means it is to be procured that the trunk of Nebuchadnezzar's tree 25 of monarchy be great enough to bear the branches and the boughs; that is, that the natural subjects of the crown, or state, bear a sufficient proportion to the stranger subjects that they govern; therefore all states that are liberal of naturalisation 26 towards strangers are fit for empire; for to think 27 that a handful of people can, with the greatest courage and policy in the world, embrace too large extent of dominion, it may hold for a time, but it will fail suddenly. The Spartans were a nice 28 people in point of naturalisation ; whereby, while they kept their compass, they stood firnı; but when they did spread, and their boughs were becoming too great for their stem, they became a windfall upon the sudden. Never any state was, in this point, so open to ve strangers into their body as were the Romans; therefore it sorted with them accordingly, for they grew