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20. bravery'-ostentation, boastfulness, bravado. 21. scandal'-scandalising, traducing, defaming. 22. set it down to thyself? -accustom thyself ; set it down as a
rule to be followed. 23. reduce '—used in its etymological sense for lead back, trace
back. 24. degenerate'—for degenerated. See note 17, Essay VIII. In
the distinction which Bacon makes between the 'best' and the fittest,' he implies that men had deteriorated, so that what was once best, in good times gone by, could not be attained to now, and must be replaced by what is fittest, i.e.
the best which a degenerate time will admit of. 25. • regular'—consistent. 26. express thyself well'-clearly explain why you are diverging
from your usual rule. 27. 'voice it'-demand it noisily ; proclaim it aloud. 28. easy access '— facilities for interviews with thyself. 29. `interlace not’-do not mix different businesses together, try.
ing to do several things at the same time. 30. to steal it'—to do it by stealth, to perform it secretly. Thus, in the Taming of the Shrew, Lucentio says to his servant :
Were it not that my fellow schoolmaster
methinks, to steal our marriage.' 31. “inward'-intimate, confidential, secret. 'All my inward
friends abhorred me'-Job xix, 19. 32. a by-way to close corruption' -a side-path used as a convenient means of secret bribery.
•Constant you are,
No lady closer'-SHAKESPEARE. 33. facility'-easiness to be persuaded ; readiness of compliance;
pliancy; but always in a bad sense. 34. 'idle respects '-foolish motives. See note ir, Essay VII.
He means that if a man is swayed by foolish motives, he
will never be without (such motives). 35. Prov. xxviii, 21. 36. It is not known from whom this quotation is made. It has
been attributed to Pittacus of Mitylene, Solon, Bias, Epaminondas. It has the same meaning as the well-known passage in Shakespeare :
• It is the bright day that brings forth the adder,
And that craves wary walking'--Shakespeare, Julius Cæsar. 37. 'By the consent of all he was fit for government if he had never
ruled.' • Of all the emperors Vespasian alone was changed for the better.' Bacon explains that the former sentence refers to 'sufficiency'
(i.e. administrative capacity), the latter to moral improvement. 38. The construction of this sentence is confused and faulty. The
meaning is, ‘The man who is really improved by advancement, shows thereby that he has a worthy and generous
spirit.' 39. 'side a man's self'—join himself to a side or party (but desert
it as soon as he has attained his object). 40. sensible .... remembering '--conscious .... obtrusive.
ANALYSIS OF ESSAY XI.
1. It is a threefold servitude.
1. Study examples, both good and evil.
inferiors. 6. Accept and seek advice of others. III. Vices of authority and their remedies :
(a.) Easy access.
offering bribes. 2. Corruption : the remedies are— (6.) Do not be variable.
(c.) Do not employ con
fidential servants. 3. Roughness--a needless offence.
4. Facility-a constant evil. IV. Concluding remarks :
1. Great place brings out a man's virtue or vice. Galba
Vespasian. 2. A man should take a side in rising. 3. A man should avoid obtruding his public office into his
XII.-OF BOLDNESS. (1625.) IT1 is a trivial? grammar-school text, but yet worthy a wise man's consideration :—Question was asked of Demosthenes, What was the chief parts of an orator ?4 He answered, Action.5 What next ?-Action. What next again ?-Action. He said it that knew it best, and had by nature himself no advantage in that he commended. A strange thing, that that part of an orator which is but superficial, and rather the virtue of a player, should be placed so high above those other noble parts of invention, elocution, and the rest; nay, almost alone, as if it were all in all. But the reason is plain :—there is in human nature generally more of the fool than of the wise; and therefore those faculties by which the foolish part of men's minds is taken are most potent.
Wonderful8 like is the case of Boldness in civil business ; what first?—Boldness; what second and third ? — Boldness: and yet Boldness is a child of ignorance and baseness, far inferior to other parts : but, nevertheless, it doth fascinate, and bind hand and foot those that are either shallow in judgment or weak in courage, which are the greatest part;' yea, and prevaileth with wise men at weak times; therefore we see it hath done wonders in popular States, 10 but with Senates 11 and Princes less; and more, ever upon the first entrance of bold persons into action than soon after; for Boldness is an ill keeper of promise. Surely as there are Mountebanks12 for the natural body, so are there Mountebanks for the politic body; men that undertake great cures, and perhaps have been lucky in two or three experiments, but want the grounds of science, and therefore cannot hold out; nay, you shall see a bold fellow many times do Mahomet’s miracle. Mahomet made the people believe that he would call a hill to him, and from the top of it offer up
his prayers for the observers of his law. The people assembled: Mahomet called the hill to come to him again and again ; and when the hill stood still, he was never a whit abashed, but said, 'If the hill will not come to Mahomet, Mahomet will go to the hill.' So these men, when they have promised great matters and failed most shamefully, yet (if they have the perfection of Boldness) they will but slight it over, and make a turn, 13 and no more ado.
Certainly to men of great judgment, 14 bold persons are a sport to behold; nay, and to the vulgar also Boldness hath somewhat of the ridiculous; for if absurdity be the subject of laughter, doubt you not but great Boldness is seldom without some absurdity; especially it is a sport to see when a bold fellow is out of countenance, 15 for that puts his face into a most shrunken and wooden posture, as needs it must; for in bashfulness the spirits do a little go and come; but with bold men, upon like occasion, they stand at a stay; like a Stale 16 at chess, where it is no Mate, but yet the game cannot stir; but this last were fitter for a satire than for a serious observation.
This is well to be weighed, that Boldness is ever blind; for it seeth not dangers and inconveniences: therefore it is ill in counsel, good in execution; so that the right use of bold persons is, that they never command in chief, but be seconds and under the direction of others; for in counsel it is good to see dangers, and in execution not to see them except they be very great.
NOTES ON ESSAY XII. 1. 'It.' The antecedent to this pronoun is the anecdote following,
which is called a text because it is quoted in illustration of
the subject in hand. 2. trivial' —common-place, well-known. The word is derived
from the Latin trivium, the name anciently given to the three elementary studies of the schools-grammar, logic, and rhetoric; the more advanced arts constituted the quadrivium -music, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy; and these made
up together the seven liberal arts. 3. part'-talent, faculty, necessary qualification. So, a little
further on, he tells us that boldness is 'inferior to other parts.' 4. 'orator.' Oratory or rhetoric is the use of language in such a
way as to make it effective in persuading the hearers to a certain opinion. The great thing aimed at is effect, and the
truth or correctness is of secondary importance, and valued only so far as it conduces to the result the orator desires to bring about
The reader will notice a few lines below that it is to oratory in this sense that Bacon refers ; and he compares it to boldness, spoken of in a bad sense for impudence or shame
lessness. 5. 'action'—including all the accompaniments to the delivery of
a speech, not only gesticulation or appropriate movement of the hands and body, but management of the voice and
features. 6. ‘no advantage.' Demosthenes (B.C. 385-322) was certainly
the greatest orator of antiquity. At the age of seventeen, when he first resolved to study eloquence, he had a weak voice, his speech was indistinct and inarticulate, and his gait and gestures were awkward. These natural impediments, however, he conquered by marvellous perseverance, and at length in the vigour and beauty of his eloquence sur
passed all other orators. 7. 'in that'-in what, or, in that which. 8. wonderful'—for adverb wonderfully. We use the word
merely as a strengthened form of very; but here it literally means that the resemblance is so close as to be a matter of
positive wonder. 9. 'greatest part'-most numerous. 10. 'popular States'-democracies, republics, states governed by
the people. II, Senates' — lit. assemblies of aged counsellors, and therefore
less likely to be taken in by the mere gloss of oratory. 12. "Mountebanks. A mountebank is really, as the name itself
shows, one who mounts a bench. The name was applied to quacks or charlatans, who in markets or other public places boasted impudently of their skill in curing diseases, and deluded ignorant people into purchasing from
them medicines represented as infallible remedies.
To such worthless impostors mere chance and good luck have often given a temporary run of success, but they fail ultimately, as Bacon says, through not knowing the grounds'
(i.e. principles) of science. 13. ‘make a turn'-turn it off (as we say), i.e. cleverly divert
attention from the case of failure. 14. judgment’-power of discrimination, insight. 15. out of countenance'-put to shame by exposure. 16. “Stale'-probably connected with still and stall. This use of
the word is derived from the game of chess, where it denotes the position of the king when, being required to move, though not in check, he cannot move without being placed in check.