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*It was but such a likeness as an imperfect glass doth give; answer. able enough in some features and colours, but erring in others '-SIDNEY.
-Milton, Paradise Lost, xii, 581.
14. "civil'—consistent with good government and with the interests
of private citizens.
The cautious way in which Bacon speaks of such military retainers shows that he well knew how it was quite possible for them to lose their civil character and become a formidable military power. In the reign of Henry VII many laws were passed forbidding the enlistment of retainers by the nobility, since it was found that the nobles used them in
riots, violence, and all kinds of disorder. 15. take with'-employ. 16. passable'-tolerable; not deserving commendation, but still
just good enough to pass muster. 17. virtuous'-able, clever. 18. election' - we should say selection. 19. He means that it is unwise to show too much favour and kind
ness at the first to a man whom one is going to employ, because this cannot last long, for the time will come when instead of receiving favour he will have to submit to direc
tion and restriction. 20. "softness'—weakness and indecision of character, 21. of the last impression'-changeable; influenced and im
pressed most, not by what is best, but by what he has hap
pened to hear last. 22. It is easier to take a correct and general view of a place when
removed to a little distance from it; and the hills are best seen, not from themselves, but from the valleys beneath them ; so also juster opinions are formed of matters of business by those who consider them from the outside, than by those
who are engaged and interested in them. 23. comprehend –include ; involve ; where the success of the
superior necessarily involves that of the inferior.
Bacon makes a very hasty generalisation here, in stating that friendship between equals is rare. There can be little doubt that some of the closest and most lasting friendships in all ages have been those between persons of the same age and rank, and great men who have been careful observers of human life have expressed themselves as of the opposite opinion to Lord Bacon. In ancient times Aristotle (Ethics, book viii, cap. 7) said that when affection is proportional, then there is in a manner an equality, which seems to be the property of friendship;' and again : It is evident that if there is a great distance between the parties, in virtue, or vice,
or wealth, or anything else, they are no longer friends, and they do not even expect it.' And in modern days Dr Johnson (Rambler, 64) says, 'Friendship is seldom lasting but between equals, or where the superiority on one side is reduced by some equivalent advantage on the other.'
ANALYSIS OF ESSAY XLVIII.
1. Followers to be disliked :
(a.) Expensive to maintain.
(6.) Importunate in requests.
(c.) Protection from wrongs.
(a.) Spoil business through want of secrecy.
(6.) Decrease honour and increase envy. 5. Talebearing followers who
(a.) Carry abroad secrets, and yet
(6.) Are in great favour because they are obliging. II. Followers to be employed, viz., those
1. Of same profession as their employer.
(a.) They are thankful, while
(6.) The others are more serviceable. III. General rules in employing followers :
1. Do not make too much of men at first,
(a.) Being governed by the dictation of one.
(6.) Being distracted by the adverse opinions of many. IV. Friendship :
1. It is well to take counsel of a few friends.
XLIX.-OF SUITORS.1 (1597, enlarged 1625.)
MANY ill matters and projects are undertaken; and private suits do putrefy the public good. Many good matters are undertaken with bad minds; I mean not only corrupt minds, but crafty minds, that intend not performance.
Some embrace 3 suits, which never mean to deal effectually in them; but if they see there may be life in the matter 4 by some other mean they will be content to win a thank, or take a second 5 reward, or at least, to make use in the meantime of the Suitor's hopes. Some take hold of suits only for an occasion to cross some other, or to make an information, whereof they could not otherwise have apt pretext, without care what become of the suit when that turn is served ; or, generally, to make other men's business a kind of entertainment 8 to bring in their own: nay, some undertake suits with a full purpose to let them fall, to the end to gratify the adverse party, or competitor.
Surely there is in some sort a right in every suit; either a right of equity, if it be a suit of controversy, or a right of desert
, if it be a suit of petition. If affection lead a man to favour the wrong side in justice, let him rather use his countenance to compound the matter than to carry
it. 1 If affection lead a man to favour the less worthy in desert, let him do it without depraving or disabling 11 the better deserver. In suits which a man doth not well understand, it is good to refer them to some friend of trust and judgment, that may report whether he may deal in them with honour: but let him choose well his referendaries, 12 for else he may be led by the nose. Suitors are so distasted 13 with delays and abuses, that plain dealing in denying to deal in suits at first, and reporting the success barely, 14 and in challenging no more thanks than one hath deserved, is grown not only honourable but also gracious. 15 In suits of favour, the first coming 16 ought to take little place ; 17 far forth 18 consideration may be had of his 19 trust, that if intelligence of the matter could not otherwise have been had but by him, advantage be not taken of the note, 20 but the party left to his other means; and in some sort recompensed for his discovery.21 To be
ignorant of the value of a suit, is simplicity; as well as to be ignorant of the right thereof, is want of conscience.
Secrecy in suits is a great mean of obtaining; for voicing them to be in forwardness 22 may discourage some kind of suitors, but doth quicken and awake others: but timing of the suit is the principal ; timing I say not only in respect of the person that should grant it, but in respect of those which are like to cross it. Let a man, in the choice of his mean,23 rather choose the fittest mean, than the greatest mean; and rather them that deal in certain 24 things, than those that are general. The reparation of a denial 25 is sometimes equal to the first grant, if a man show himself neither dejected nor discontented. ' Iniquum petas, ut æquum feras,' 26 is a good rule, where a man hath strength of favour : but otherwise a man were better rise in his suit ; 27 for he that would have ventured at first to have lost the suitor, will not, in the conclusion, lose both the suitor and his own former favour. Nothing is thought so easy a request to a great person, as his letter; and yet if it be not in a good cause, it is so much out of his reputation.28 There are no worse instruments than these general contrivers 29 of suits; for they are but a kind of poison and infection to public proceedings.
NOTES ON ESSAY XLIX.
1. "Suitors '-petitioners. The word comes from the verb to sue
in the sense of to beg, entreat, petition. 2. He means that persons often desire to obtain ends which are
really unadvisable, and such as, if obtained, would be injuri
ous to general interest. 3. embrace '--attach themselves to; promise aid for. 4. • life in the matter’-probability of success, not by reason of
their professed aid, but by the help of others who are really
earnest in their support. 5. second '- secondary, not the most valuable. We have the
same use in speaking of a second prize. 6. cross''-thwart, disappoint. The figure involved in the word
is that of interposing obstruction by placing an obstacle across the path.
7. make an information’-give intelligence ; divulge informa
tion. So also an informer is one who gives evidence tending
to the discovery and conviction of an offender. 8. .entertainment’-pretext, introduction. 9. Every petition admits of a just decision. If it be a petition in
which two parties are opposed to each other, justice must lie either on one side or on the other ; if it be a simple petition to which there is no opposition, justice is presumably in its
favour. 10. If his personal inclination goes against the petition, though he
knows it to be a just one, let him rather grant it partially
than deny it wholly. 11. depraving or disabling'_defaming or injuring.
' Fashion-monging boys, That lie, and cog, and flout, deprave and slander
-Much Ado about Nothing, V, i. • Who lives that's not depraved or depraves?'
- Timon of Athens, I, ii. * I have disabled mine estate'-Merchant of Venice, I, i. .Disable all the benefits of your own country'
-As You Like It, IV, i.
12. referendaries '--referees ; those to whose opinion a case is
referred. 13. distasted'-disgusted. 14. “reporting the success barely'—not raising false hopes by
exaggerating the success which has attended a suit. 15. 'gracious'-meriting thanks ; calling forth thankfulness. In
the same way we speak of a grateful shade when we mean
one that calls forth gratitude. 16. ‘first coming’-priority of presentation. Each petition ought
to be considered on its own merits, not with reference to the
fact that it may have happened to be presented first. 17. “take little place '—have little effect; not go for much. 18. so far forth'-to this extent. 19. his '—the presenter's. He means that when a man trusts to
your honour and fidelity in putting his private affairs into your keeping, whatever view you may take of the merits of his petition, still you are bound to keep his secret, and can
not in any case use it against him. 20. note'-information ; knowledge acquired.
• discovery'-disclosure. 22. Loudly proclaiming that they are progressing towards a success
ful issue. 23. his mean'—the one to whom he entrusts the management
and advocacy of his suit. 24. certain '-special, definite, few. So in medicine or surgery