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Sardis, who, by a perfidious message, enticed him to pay him a visit, and on his arrival at Magnesia had him arrested and crucified, B.C. 522. His daughter was so distressed by her dream that she had earnestly but in vain endeavoured to
dissuade him from his journey. 7. 'Thou shalt see me again at Philippi.'
Marcus Brutus was one of the murderers of Julius Cæsar. This prophetic warning of the place of his death is men. tioned by Plutarch. It was fulfilled when, after his ruin.
ous defeat at Philippi, he fell on his own sword and died, 8. "Thou also, Galba, shalt taste of empire.'
Tiberius, the second emperor of Rome (A.D. 14-37) is said by Tacitus (Annals, vi, 20) to have uttered these prophetic words to Galba, a young Roman soldier, who afterwards (A.D. 68) became the ninth emperor of Rome, having, however, but a short reign of six months before he was
assassinated. 9. Tacitus, Histories, v, 13: 'Pluribus persuasio inerat, antiquis
sacerdotum libris contineri, fore ut valesceret oriens, et e Judæa profecti rerum potirentur.' Another remarkable passage to the same effect occurs in Suetonius, Vesp. 4: 'Percrebuerat oriente toto vetus et constans opinio esse in fatis, ut eo tempore Judæa profecti rerum potirentur.'.
Both these writers interpret the prophecies as referring to the Emperor Vespasian (A.D. 69-79), whose victorious military career in Palestine led to his being proclaimed emperor by the soldiers on the death of Otho: he committed to his son Titus the crowning event of the Jewish war—the conquest of Jerusalem—and they both celebrated a splendid triumph at Rome, with spoils of the Temple and trains of captive Jews.
However satisfactory this interpretation may have been to Roman historians, subsequent history has, to say the least, given them a most remarkable interest in connection with
Christianity. 10. "Domitian,' Roman emperor and a reckless despot (A.D. 81.
96), was assassinated in his chamber. To him succeeded,
Commodus (A.D. 180).
Come hither, England's hope. If secret powers
12. "the queen mother'-Catherine de Medicis, wife of Henry II,
King of France, who died in July 1559 from the effects of a wound accidentally inflicted at a magnificent tournament by the Count of Montgomery.
The calculating (or casting) the nativity of a person was a practice derived from very ancient times as a part of the subject of Astrology, the basis of which was a belief that the heavenly bodies were the agents which, according to their different positions, regulated all the events of the world, and also that their position at the time of a man's birth deter. mined what his character and fortune would be. To calculate their position at the time of any person's birth was to cast his nativity. Astrology is alluded to in several passages in Holy Scripture (Isa, xlvii, 13; Dan. i, 20, ii, 2, iv, 7, 26, v, 7), and a trace of it is still found in our common word disaster. When the Copernican system of astronomy had demonstrated that the earth is not, as was once supposed, the centre of the universe, but only one amongst innumerable other and larger bodies, Astrology died a gradual natural death ; but it is a singular fact that the first lunar tables which were constructed on the Newtonian theory were intended to be used in the
calculation of nativities. 13. trivial'—common. See note 2, Essay XII. 14. style'-title, official designation.
On the death of Elizabeth the royal title was changed,
James I being king, not 'of England' but 'of Britain.' 15. Mr Aldis Wright, in his edition of Bacon's Essays, has the
following note upon this prophecy: 'Mr Daniel (Battersea
Early Scottish poetry abounded with such prophecies. In
'Betwixt Temptallon and the Basse
Thou shalt see a right faire sight
upon hight.' In The Prophecies oj Rymour, Beid, and Marlyng, we have:
To gethers ther shall mete with banars bright
Crowned kynges thre,
Tyll one of them slain shalbe.
And be full fayne to flee;
Among innumerable prophecies of Thomas of Erceldoune, a Berwickshire prophet of the thirteenth century, we have:
'Thomas of Asheldon sayeth the egle of the trewe brute shall see åll inglond in peas and rest, both spirituall and temporall; and every estate in thaire degre and the maydens of englonde
bylde your houses of lyme and stone.' 16. "Régiomontanus' – Johann Müller, a famous astronomer,
whose name was rendered into Latin as Regiomontanus from Mons Regius or Königsberg, where he is supposed to have been born. He studied at Leipsic and Vienna, and accom. panied Cardinal Bessarion to Rome, and visited the principal cities of Italy. Sixtus IV made him Archbishop of Ratisbon, and he died at Rome A.D. 1476, aged forty years.
He was a man of remarkable sagacity, and, without contradiction, the most learned astronomer that Europe had then
produced. 17. of'-i.e. as referring to.
Bacon refers to the comedy of Aristophanes called The Knights, in which the demagogue Cleon is held up to ridicule, and completely exposed and put to shame by a sausage maker. One point in the play is that an oracle has declared that a leathern eagle, with crooked claws (i.e. Cleon, whose father was a Paphlagonian tanner), should be conquered by a serpent (i.e. a maker of sausages).
The following translation of the lines of the Greek play referred to will make Bacon's allusion quite clear: ‘Sausage Seller. How then does this refer to me? Teach me. Demosthenes. This Paphlagonian here is the “leathern eagle." S. Seiler. But what is the meaning of the serpent?
Demos. That is very clear; for the serpent is long, and also the sau. sage is long; also both the sausage and the serpent are drinkers of blood. The oracle says, therefore, that the serpent shall immediately conquer the leathern eagle, unless it be cajoled with words.
S. Seller. The oracles delight me. But I wonder how I am able to manage the people.
Demos. Very easily! Do as you do now. Jumble and mince together all state affairs, and always win over the people to your side, coaxing
them with little cookish words.' 18. severe laws made to suppress them.' In the reigns of Henry
VIII, Edward VI, and Elizabeth, several Acts were passed against fond and fantastical prophecies,' which not only often produced public uneasiness, but led to commotion and
turbulence. 19. Coincidence impresses the memory more than disagreement. In
the same way inconvenience is remembered long, while com. fort and good fortune are soon forgotten. When I arrange a picnic for a certain day, which unfortunately is marred with drenching rain, I remember too well the disappointment consequent on my frustrated plans; but I too easily forget in my vexation the many other excursions in which the weather has proved favourable to my plans. Again, if a shower of rain overtakes me when I have no umbrella or shelter, the inconvenience I suffer is remembered vividly, while the occa. sions on which the storm has found me prepared for it are speedily forgotten ; still I have no right to say that whenever
I forget my umbrella there is sure to be rain. 20. Men may from constant observation become able to foresee the
occurrence of some events in the natural world, and then be tempted to regard this calculation or generalisation as a kind of prophecy. And then most men would covet the reputation of being prophets, and would be not unwilling to let others regard as prophecy of the future what is merely the result of careful observation of the past.
This may be amply illustrated by meteorological observation. 21. Plato's Timæus and his Atlanticus.' Bacon here refers to
Plato's Critias, in which a long discourse is held concerning some unknown land called New Atlantis, from which some have conjectured that Plato believed in the existence of a continent beyond the Western Ocean.
ANALYSIS OF ESSAY XXXV. I. Definition of subject :
Not Scriptural prophecies, nor oracles, nor omens, but
remarkable predictions which have historical certainty. II. Examples of such prophecies:
The Pythonissa to Saul.
chievous effect upon people who credit them. IV. Reasons for their influence:
1. Men remember the few occasions on which they prove
true, and forget the many on which they are false. 2. Many of them are not prophecies at all, but only calcula.
tions and probable conjectures. 3. Some of them are merely impudent forgeries, made after XXXVI.-OF AMBITION. (1612, enlarged 1625.)
the events have occurred.
AMBITION 1 is like choler, which is a humour 2 that maketh men active, earnest, full of alacrity, and stirring, if it be not stopped: but if it be stopped, and cannot have his way, it becometh adust,3 and thereby malign and venomous: so ambitious men, if they find the way open for their rising, and still get forward, they are rather busy than dangerous; but if they be checked in their desires, they become secretly discontent,* and look upon men and matters with an evil eye, and are best pleased when things go backward; which is the worst property in a servant of a prince or state : therefore it is good for princes, if they use ambitious men, to handle it5 so, as they be still 6 progressive, and not retrograde ; which, because it cannot be without inconvenience, it is good not to use such natures at all; for if they rise not with their service, they will take order to make their service fall with them.
But since we have said it were good not to use men of ambitious natures, except it be upon necessity, it is fit we speak in what cases they are of necessity. Good commanders in the wars must be taken, be they never 8 so ambitious; for the use of their service dispenseth with 9 the rest: and to take a soldier without Ambition, is to pull off his spurs. There is also great use of ambitious men in being screens to princes in matters of danger and envy;10 for no man will take that part except he be like a seeled 11 dove, that mounts and mounts, because he cannot see about him. There is use also of ambitious men in pulling down the greatness of any subject that overtops; as Tiberius used Macro 12 in the pulling down of Sejanus.
Since, therefore, they must be used in such cases, there resteth to speak how they are to be bridled, that they may be less dangerous. There is less danger of them if they be of mean birth, than if they be noble; and if they be rather harsh of nature, than gracious and popular; and