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only of their kind, but of their work ;8 and so both children and creatures.

The difference in affection of parents towards their several children is many times unequal, and sometimes unworthy, especially in the mother; as Solomon saith, A wisé son rejoiceth the father, but an ungracious son shames the mother.'10 A man shall see, where there is a house full of children, one or two of the eldest respected, 11 and the youngest made wantons;12 but in the midst some that are as it were forgotten, who, many times, nevertheless, prove the best.

The illiberality of parents, in allowance towards their children, is a harmful error, makes them base, acquaints them with shifts, makes them sort with mean company, and makes them surfeit13 more when they come to plenty: and, therefore, the proof 14 is best when men keep their authority towards their children, but not their purse.

Men have a foolish manner (both parents, and schoolmasters, and servants), in creating and breeding an emulation between brothers during childhood, which many times sorteth 15 to discord when they are men, and disturbeth families. The Italians make little difference between children and nephews, or near kinsfolk; but so they be of the lump, they care not, though they pass not through their own body; and, to say truth, in nature it is much a like matter; insomuch that we see a nephew sometimes resembleth an uncle or a kinsman, more than his own parent, as the blood happens. Let parents

choose betimes 16 the vocations and courses they mean their children should take, for then they are most flexible, and let them not too much apply themselves to the disposition of their children, as thinking they will take best to that which they have most mind to. It is true, that if the affection, or aptness 17 of the children be extraordinary, then it is good not to cross it; but generally the precept is good, 'Optimum elige, suave et facile illud faciet consuetudo.'18

Younger brothers are commonly fortunate, but seldom or never where the elder are disinherited.

NOTES ON ESSAY VII. 1. nor they will not.' As a rule in English, two negatives make

an affirmative, because the second negative neutralises the first; but here the sentence remains negative and the repetition merely gives emphasis.

'You may deny that you were not the cause'-Richard III.

'He denied you had in him no right'-Comedy of Errors. 2. 'perpetuity by generation'-continuous propagation of ani.

mals, their offspring in due course becoming parents themselves. He says that the having children to survive us is merely a part of our animal life and which we possess in common with other animals, but that the true offspring a man should seek to leave behind him is a name worthy to be remembered ('memory'), a good character and example (merit') and deeds, the happy results of which cannot die

with him (good works '). 3. “proper'-peculiar, naturally and essentially belonging to one.

The word is used in contradistinction to common, just as in

grammar proper and common substantives. 4..foundations'-endowments, endowed institutions; such as

schools, hospitals, churches. Bacon speaks here with prejudice, being himself a childless man ; it is of course only natural that men who have no family cares should have more time and means than others at their disposal to devote to the benefit of posterity, but yet many of the best, greatest, and most permanently influential men the world has known have

been fathers of families. 5. 'to express '—to give expression to, to make apparent. 6. .so the care of posterity'thus we see that anxiety to benefit

those who shall come after us, etc. 7. 'raisers'-founders. 8. kind .... work’-family or kin . . . . and deeds. In

the next sentence children' corresponds to kind,' and

'creatures' to 'work.' 9. several'-separate, different. See note 7, Essay VI. 10. Prov. x, 11. Bacon refers to this passage again (De Aug.

mentis, viii), and explains it to mean that a wise and prudent son is more valued and appreciated by his father than by his mother, but that when a son proves vicious and wicked the sorrow and shame are felt more by his mother,

conscious perhaps that she has spoiled and corrupted him by

her indulgence.' II. respected '—regarded, considered, attended to, not neglected.

The word as used here does not involve any notion of reverence, as in our modern usage. So in King Lear Cordelia says:


'Since that respects of fortune are his love,

I shall not be his wife.' 12. made wantons '-rendered dissolute through indulgence ; be

come loose and unrestrained. 13. 'surfeit'-become riotous and gluttonous. 14. 'proof'-result. 15. sorteth'-leads to, results in, turns out to be. It comes from

the Latin sors, a lot drawn out or shaken out, and is akin to sortie. For Bacon's other use of the verb to sort see a few

lines above, and also note 5, Essay VI. 16. betimes'-early, literally by times; like beside, i.e. by the side,

betwixt, between. 17. affection or aptness'— liking or natural ability (for a certain

calling). 18. Choose what is best, custom will make it easy and pleasant.'

This appears to be a saying of_Pythagoras preserved by
Plutarch (De Exilio, c. 8). But Bp. Jeremy Taylor, in his
Holy Living, quotes as if from Seneca, 'Elige optimam vitam,
consuetudo faciet jucundissimam.'

ANALYSIS OF ESSAY VII. I. The evils of parentage :

1. Children intensify sorrows and anxieties.

2. They give less opportunity for noble works. II. Faults of parents towards their children :

1. Unequal affection.
2. Illiberality.
3. Encouragement of emulation.

4. Unwise choice of future vocation.
III. “Younger brothers are commonly fortunate.'


(1612, slightly enlarged in 1625.) He that hath wife and children hath given hostages to Fortune ; for they are impediments to great enterprises, either of virtue or mischief. Certainly the best works, and of greatest merit for the public, have proceeded from the unmarried or childless men, which both in affection and means3 have married and endowed the public. Yet it were great reason 4 that those that have children should have greatest care of 5 future times, unto which they know they must transmit their dearest pledges. Some there are who, though they lead a single life, yet their thoughts do end with themselves, and account future times impertinences ;6 nay, there are some other that account wife and children but as bills of charges ;? nay, more, there are some foolish rich covetous men, that take a pride in having no children, because they may be thought so much the richer; for, perhaps, they have heard some talk, ‘Such an one is a great rich man,' and another excepto to it, ' Yea, but he hath a great charge of children ;' as if it were an abatement to his riches. But the most ordinary cause of a single life is liberty, especially in certain self-pleasing and humorous 10 minds, which are so sensible of every restraint, as they will go near 11 to think their girdles and garters to be bonds and shackles. Unmarried men are best friends, best masters, best servants; not always best subjects, for they are light to run away, and almost all fugitives are of that condition. 12 A single life doth well with Churchmen,13 for charity will hardly water the ground where it must first fill a pool. It is indifferent14 for Judges and Magistrates; for if they be facile and corrupt, you shall have a servant five times worse than a wife. For15 Soldiers, I find the Generals commonly, in their 'hortatives, 16 put men in mind of their wives and children; and I think the despising of marriage amongst the Turks maketh the vulgar soldier more base.

Certainly wife and children are a kind of discipline of humanity; and single men, though they be many times more charitable, because their means are less exhaust, yet, on the other side, they are more cruel and hardhearted (good to make severe Inquisitors), because their tenderness is not so oft called upon.

Grave natures, led by custom, and therefore constant, are commonly loving husbands, as was said of Ulysses, Vetulam suam prætulit immortalitati.'18

Chaste women are often proud and froward, as presuming upon the merit of their chastity. It is one of



the best bonds, both of chastity and obedience, in the wife, if she think her husband wise, which she will never do if she find him jealous.

Wives are young men's mistresses, 19 companions for middle age, and old men's nurses, so as 20 a man may have a quarrel 21 to marry when he will : but yet he was reputed one of the wise men 22 that made answer to the question when a man should marry : A young man not yet, an elder man not at all.'

It is often seen that bad husbands have very good wives; whether it be that it raiseth the price of their husbands' kindness when it comes, or that the wives take a pride in their patience; but this 23 never fails, if the bad husbands were of their own choosing, against their friends' consent, for then they will be sure to make good their own folly.


1. 'hostages '-pledges or securities entrusted to an enemy. He

means that a married man is entirely in the hands of Fortune, because his wife and children are pledges in her keeping, and she can punish them for his misdeeds and mistakes, so that they hamper him and prevent him from undertaking ‘great enterprises.' The single man succeeds or falls alone : the married man involves others with him in his success or failure. In the same way, a few lines below, he speaks of

children as 'dearest pledges.' 2. “impediments '—hindrances, obstacles ; literally things which

impede, i.e. entangle the feet (Latin pedes).

Here again Bacon, who perhaps was not fortunate in his own married life, makes a general statement that is unwarrantable. History, both national and domestic, records numberless instances in which wives and children have been

the very opposite to impediments. 3. affection and means '—patriotism and liberality; the former

of which has been a kind of marriage of the public, and the

latter an endowment of the public. 4. it were great reason'-it would seem most reasonable and

care of '—anxiety respecting,

The antecedent to the pronoun 'which' following, is ' times.' 6. impertinences '—things which do not pertain to them, or

concern them. Thus, an impertinent remark is not neces

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