Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

For the second, which is dissimulation, it followeth many times upon secrecy by a necessity ; 23 so that he that will be 24 secret must be a dissembler in some degree; for men are too cunning 25 to suffer a man to keep an indifferent carriage 26 between both, and to be secret, without swaying the balance on either side. They will so beset a man with questions, and draw him on, and pick it out of him, that without an absurd silence he must show an inclination one way; or if he do not, they will gather as much by his silence as by his speech. As for equivocations, or oraculous speeches, 27 they cannot hold out long : so that no man can be secret, except he give himself a little scope of dissimulation, which is, as it were, but the skirts or train of secrecy.

But for the third degree, which is simulation and false profession, that I hold more culpable,28 and less politic, except it be in great and rare matters: and, therefore, a general custom of simulation (which is this last degree) is a vice rising either of a natural falseness, or fearfulness, or of a mind that hath some main faults; which, because a man must needs disguise, it maketh him practise simulation in other things, lest his hand should be out of ure. 29

The advantages of simulation and dissimulation are three: first, to lay asleep opposition, and to surprise ; for where a man's intentions are published, it is an alarum 30 to call up all that are against them : the second is, to reserve to a man's self a fair retreat ;31 for if a man engage himself by a manifest declaration, he must go through, or take a fall: the third is, the better to discover 32 the mind of another; for to him that opens himself men will hardly show themselves adverse; but will (fair) 33 let him go on, and turn their freedom of speech to freedom of thought;34 and therefore it is a good shrewd proverb of the Spaniard, 'Tell a lie and find a truth;' as if there were no way of discovery but by simulation. There be also three disadvantages to set it even; the first, that simulation and dissimulation commonly carry with them a show of fearfulness, which in any business doth spoil the feathers of round 35 flying up to the mark; the second, that it puzzleth and perplexeth the conceits 36 of many, that, perhaps, would otherwise co-operate with him, and makes a man walk almost alone to his own ends; the third, and greatest, is, that it depriveth a man of one of the most principal instruments for action, which is trust and belief. The best composition and temperature is, to have openness in fame and opinion ; secrecy in habit; dissimulation in seasonable use; and a power to feign if there be no remedy.

37

NOTES ON ESSAY VI.

1. • Dissimulation.' As explained in the third paragraph of this

essay, Bacon distinguishes between three things, each of which is treated of in its place-secrecy, dissimulation, and simulation. According to his distinction, secrecy is a man's concealment of his true character or object; dissimulation consists of artifices intended, without direct falsehood, to mislead others as to that character and object; simulation is downright hypocrisy, by which a man pretends and explicitly professes to be other than what he really is.

Perhaps his distinction can be best exhibited by illustration: In a case of smuggling, if the smugglers attempt to land their goods without observation by any one in the darkness of night, that would be secrecy; if they attempted it in broad daylight, seeking to avoid detection by a mere affectation of carelessness and openness, that would be dissimula. tion; if they pretended to be engaged in fishing, and made pretence of using their nets so as to avoid detection, that would be simulation. Or again, if an important private meeting is to be held, and some unauthorised person who wishes to be present hides himself in the room, in order to hear the proceedings, Bacon would call that secrecy; if he attempted to gain admittance by boldly and openly walking in just as if he had a right to enter, that would be dissimulation; if he got in by presenting a forged ticket of admission, and actually pretended that he had a right of entry, that

would be simulation or hypocrisy. 2. faint'—weak, spiritless, cowardly. So in the proverb, 'Faint 5. sorted'-agreed. So the verb to sort, when used transitively,

heart never won fair hand.' 3. “it'—the antecedent to this pronoun is the infinitive phrase

that follows-'to know when to tell truth and to do it.' 4. politics '-politicians.

means to arrange or group in classes things that agree together,

which classes themselves constitute sorts. 6. 'he saith.' Tacitus, Annals, v, I, and ii, 76. 7. several'—different, distinct.

*Four several armies to the field are led'-DRYDEN. 8. 'that. as'-such .... that. 9. "half-lights '—not fully hidden nor wholly disclosed, but

having some amount of light thrown on them. (So twilight

-i.e. doubtful light). 10. arts of state and arts of life'-accomplishments necessary

both for statesmanship, and also for ordinary life. II. 'generally' -- always, invariably, without exception. Our

present use of the word generally for frequently is liable to mislead us in the English of the seventeenth century. 'I counsel that Israel be generally gathered together'2 Sam. xvii, 2; also in the Prayer-Book, 'generally (i.e. unexceptionably) necessary to salvation,''this kingdom in general (i.e. the whole kingdom).

Bacon uses the word (like 'in general immediately afterwards) in contradistinction to 'in particulars;' the one referring to all cases, the other to individual cases; and says that if a man is not shrewd enough to discern readily those cases in which it would be well to be open, from those in which he should be secret, the only alternative open to him is generally (i.e. always) to be secret; to have a general (i.e. invariable) rule of caution ; just as persons who are partially

blind have to acquire the habit of always walking cautiously. 12. invisible'-unsuspected. 13. 'industriously'-intentionally, purposely. 14. Confessor- -a priest who hears private confessions. 15. discovery'-disclosure. 16. Men usually keep their affairs and their secrets to themselves,

not caring to impart them to others except when they are burdensome, in which case they are often glad to be discharged

of them. 17. mysteries are due to secrecy'-1.e. the habit of secrecy not

only invites confession of others' secrets (mysteries '), but

claims them as its due. 18. •futile persons '_blabbers, talkative or loquacious persons.

So also Bacon says: 'One futile person that maketh it his glory to tell, will do more hurt than many that know it their

duty to conceal-Essay XX, Of Counsel. 19. moral'—mannerly, as it should be, belonging to good manners. 26. i.e. that a man should never betray his secrets by his face, but should 23. i.e. the secret man is often compelled to be a dissembler. He

always look impassive, and make disclosures only by his tongrie.

discovery'-disclosure; 'tracts'—traits. 22. marked'-observed, noticed.

21.

means the same thing a few lines below when he says that

'dissimulations are but the skirts or train of secrecy.' 24. • will be '-wishes to be. 25. cunning'-clever, shrewd, knowing. 26. .indifferent carriage '_impartial bearing, a demeanour be

traying no leaning to either party. 27. equivocations or oraculous speeches '-ambiguities; like

the ancient oracles, that generaily had two meanings, one of which would seem to come true, whatever the issue might be. Shakespeare, in his Macbeth, gives us the history of a man whose ruin was brought about entirely by these am

biguous speeches, 'that palter with us in a double sense.' W 28. more culpable. The reader cannot but be painfully impressed

with the low moral tone of this essay, a tone for which, doubtless, Bacon himself is in some measure personally responsible, but which belongs especially to the age in which he lived. At that time trickery was considered an essential part of statesmanship, and policy presupposed 'secrecy, dissimulation, and simulation. This is, perhaps, to be mainly attributed to Machiavelli's work, Del Principe, published in Florence in 1532, five years after Machiavelli's death, in which are expounded the obnoxious principles of policy since designated by the opprobrious name, Machiavellian.

The highest moral eminence to which Bacon attains in this essay is an admission by implication that dissimulation is culpable!! ure-practice. This word, now obsolete, except in the verb inure, has no etymological connection with the word use, though, as here, synonymous with it; but it comes from the French heur (=luck, good fortune), which again probably is derived from the Latin augurium. The word is sometimes used as a verb: 'The French soldiers from their youth have

been practised and ured in feats of arms '—SIR J. MORE. 30. • alarum.' From the Italian all'arme, to arms. 31. "fair retreat'-open road for withdrawal, in case it should be

necessary. 32.

• discover_find out. This use of the word is rare in Bacon,

who generally uses it (see note 21 above) for disclose; also

note 16, Essay V.
33. "fair'--simply, quietly.

Fair fall (i.e. quietly rest) the bones that took the pains for me'-King John. 34. • freedom of thought.' Instead of criticising the speaker in

words, they keep silent, but criticise him all the more severely

in their thoughts. 35. 'round '— direct, precise, straightforward. See note 28, Essay

I. The figure is evidently borrowed from archery.

[ocr errors]

29.

36. conceits '— thoughts, opinions, conceptions. 37. composition and temperature'—using and habit, or combina.

tion and blending.

ANALYSIS OF ESSAY VI.
I. Dissimulation is a mark of weakness.
II. Secrecy-

1. Exacts confession.
2. Is comely and decent (like clothing).
3. Checks vanity.

4. Prevents betrayal.
III. Dissimulation is often a necessary consequence of secrecy.
IV. Simulation-

1. Is more culpable.

2. When habitual is a real vice.
V. Advantages of simulation and dissimulation :

1. They lay asleep opposition.
2. They secure a man a safe retreat.

3. They help one to find out the mind of another. VI. Their disadvantages :

1. They prevent promptness in any business.
2. Deprive a man of co-operation.
3. Make trust and belief impossible.

VII.-OF PARENTS AND CHILDREN.

(1612, enlarged 1625.) The joys of parents are secret, and so are their griefs and fears; they cannot utter the one, nor they will not utter the other. Children sweeten labours, but they make misfortunes more bitter; they increase the cares of life, but they mitigate the remembrance of death. The perpetuity by generation is common to beasts; but memory, merit, and noble works, are proper3 to men : and surely a man shall see the noblest works and foundations4 have proceeded from childless men, which have sought to express the images of their minds where those of their bodies have failed, so the care of posterity is most in them that have no posterity. They that are the first raisers? of their houses are most indulgent towards their children, beholding them as the continuance, not

« ZurückWeiter »