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14. “Malignity'-i.e. as there is a natural benevolence and benefi.
cence, so there is a natural malevolence and maleficence; the
term malignity seems to include the two latter. 15. crossness desire of thwarting ; 'frowardness '-obstinacy;
aptness to oppose '--disposition to go against what other persons wish; difficileness?-intractability, the conduct of
one who is difficult to deal with. 16. mere mischief' — downright injuriousness. See note 16,
Essay II. 17. 'in season'—in their element, contented and happy. Another
figure by which we express the same thing is the phrase 'at
home.' 18. •loading part'-on the side of aggravating the troubles of
others. 19. still’-always. See note 6, Essay IX. 20. 'misanthropi' for misanthropists—i.e. haters of mankind, the
opposite to philanthropists, or lovers of mankind.
The reference is to Timon of Athens, who lived during the Peloponnesian war. Disappointments, and the faithlessness of friends, soured his nature, and led him to conceive a bitter hatred for all mankind, and he retired into solitude. A story preserved of him by Plutarch (from whom Shakespeare derived the incident, Timon of Athens, Act V, sc. ii), is that on one occasion he addressed an assembly of Athenians thus : ‘My lords of Athens, I have a little garden to my house, where there groweth a fig-tree, on the which many citizens have hanged themselves, and because I mean to make some building on the place, I thought good to let you all know it, so that before the tree be cut down, if any of you be desperate, you may there in time go and hang yourselves.'
Bacon means that these 'misanthropi' are worse than Timon, for he would have given men a chance of escaping from their miseries by death; but these men delight in tormenting others, and giving them no release-keeping them in perpetual misery, like felons on the eve of execution, but with no intention of putting them out of their misery. errors of human nature'- most unnatural men. It is evident from this and many other passages, that Bacon had a very
low estimate of the politics and politicians of his day.
politics '-politicians. 23. knee timber'—crooked wood, bent as the leg is at the knee. 24. citizen of the world'—a cosmopolitan; one whose sympathies
are not restricted to his own nation, but who professes alliance
to all the human race. 25. noble tree '—the myrrh-tree, or some other from which the
odorous resin is obtained by incision. 26. 'shot'-injured, vexed, annoyed : injuries cannot hurt him,
because he forgives and forgets them.'
27. trash'-rubbish; the valueless gifts they may offer. The
word trash is allied with thrash; it was originally applied to the loppings of trees, and is preserved in a similar sense in the sugar plantations of the West Indies, where field-trash denotes the decayed leaves and stems of the canes, and cane
trash, their bruised and macerated rind. 28. Rom. ix, 3.
ANALYSIS OF ESSAY XIII. 1. What goodness is: its relation to goodness of nature, humanity,
philanthropy, charity. II. The nature of goodness :
1. It may be mistaken, but cannot be excessive.
if not on men.
1. Seek the real good of others—not to gratify their whims
or your own. 2. Let your benevolence take a form suitable to the needs of
the person you wish to benefit. 3. Do not neglect duties that take precedence of benevolence. IV. The opposite to 'goodness' is malignity:
1. Lighter (obstinacy, crossness, etc.).
anthropists like Timon.
1. Courtesy shows a large heart.
XIV.-OF NOBILITY. (1612, re-wriiten 1625.) We will speak of Nobility first as a portion of an estate, then as a condition of particular persons.
A Monarchy, where there is no Nobility at all, is ever a pure and absolute tyranny, as that of the Turks; for Nobility attempers 2 sovereignty, and draws the eyes of the people somewhat aside from the line royal: but for Democracies they need it not; and they are commonly more quiet and less subject to sedition than where there are stirps; of nobles; for men's eyes are upon the business, and not upon the persons; or if upon the persons, it is for the business' sake, as fittest, and not for flags * and pedigree. We see the Switzers last well, notwithstanding their diversity of religion and of cantons; for utility is their bond, and not respects. The United Provinces of the Low Countries in their government excel; for where there is an equality the consultations are more indifferent, and the payments and tributes more cheerful.
A great and potent Nobility addeth majesty to a monarch, but diminisheth power, 8 and putteth life and spirit into the people, but presseth their fortune. It is well when nobles are not too great for sovereignty nor for justice;' and yet maintained in that height, as the insolency of inferiors may be broken upon them 10 before it come on too fast upon the majesty of kings. A numerous Nobility causeth poverty and inconvenience in a state, for it is a surchargell of expense; and, besides, it being of necessity that many of the Nobility fall in time to be weak in fortune, it maketh a kind of disproportion between honour and means. 12
As for Nobility in particular persons, it is a reverend thing to see an ancient castle or building not in decay, or to see a fair timber-tree sound and perfect; how much more to behold an ancient noble family, which hath stood against the waves and weathers 13 of time! for new Nobility is but the act of power, but ancient Nobility is the act of time. Those that are first raised to Nobility are commonly more virtuous, but less innocent,14 than their descendants; for there is rarely any rising but by a commixture of good and evil arts ;15 but it is reason the memory of their virtues remain 16 to their posterity, and their faults die with themselves. Nobility of birth commonly abateth industry; and he that is not industrious, envieth him that is; besides, noble persons cannot go much higher; and he that standeth at a stay when others rise, can hardly avoid motions of envy. On the other side, Nobility extinguisheth the passive envy 18 from others towards them, because they are in possession of honour. Certainly, kings that have able
men of their Nobility shall find ease 19 in employing them, and a better slide into their business ;20 for people naturally bend to them as born in some sort to command.
NOTES ON ESSAY XIV. 1. "estata'—i.e. state, constitution; the general body politic ;
or, as we say, 'the state.' Ćf. the common expression,
Church and State.' 2. 'attempers'—modifies, moderates. The nobles being nearer in
degree to the monarch than other subjects are, the monarchy
is less likely to become a despotism. 3. 'stirps '—families, races; literally stems, stocks (Latin stirps,
stirpis). Bacon uses the Latin word without any alteration,
except that he here makes it plural. 4. flags'—armorial bearings; the arms of noble houses. 5. pedigree'-descent, lineage, line of ancestors. The word is
a corruption of the French par degrés, by degrees, pedigree really being a genealogical table showing in all their degrees
the relationships of the members of a family. 6. "utility . . . . respects.' Their object as a nation is to secure
and advance the common interests ('utility'), and not personal considerations ('respects '), i.e. to favour and enrich certain
privileged individuals in the state. 7. 'consultations are more indifferent.' The deliberations and
decisions (of the government) are more impartial (in those states in which all men are upon an equal footing) than in countries where the government is in the hands of one class.
Cf. “Truly and indifferently minister justice'—Prayer for
Church militant in Communion Service. 8. diminisheth power’-puts a check upon the power of the
sovereign, and prevents his authority from becoming arbitrary. 9. too great for sovereignty nor for justice'- -so powerful as to
be beyond the control of the king, and out of the reach of the laws.
The Dukes of Burgundy and Brittany were often too powerful to be submissive to the French king. In Scotch history, when Bothwell was tried for the murder of Lord Darnley, he came to the court with such a number of armed attendants, that an impartial and just trial was an im
possibility. 10. broken upon them'-spend its whole force upon the nobles,
and thus lose itself before reaching the sovereign. 11. surcharge'-overcharge, great expense, overload.
charge is still the legal term used to denote the putting of more cattle to graze on a common than the con moner has a right to, or more than the herbage will sustain.
The prefix sur is merely the Latin super, shortened in passage through the French, as in surcease, surface, surname, surfeit, surmount, survey, surprise, surrender, etc. disproportion between honour and means. In the reign of Edward IV, George Neville, Duke of Bedford, was degraded from his noble rank because his means were adjudged too
poor to support his dignity. 13. "weathers'-winds, tempests. So also weather.cock, to indicate
the direction of the wind ; weather-board, for the windward side of a ship; the weather of a windmill
, i.e. the obliquity of its sail. In weather-bow, weather-brace, weather-helm, and most other nautical terms in which it occurs, weather denotes
wholly or chiefly the wind. 14. more virtuous but less innocent ?-having more of the
sterner qualities (“ virtues ’), courage, zeal, perseverance, etc. ;
but less of integrity, kindness, justice ('innocence'). 15. arts '--practices. 16. remain. Subjunctive mood : the indicative would be remains. 17. "motions of envy'-incitements to envy. So in the Prayer
Book: 'We may ever obey Thy godly motions.'. 'Let a good man obey every good motion rising in his heart, knowing that every such motion proceeds from God'-South.
We have a trace of the same use of the word in emotion,
and in the verb to move, for to arouse, to excite. 18. "passive envy'-i.e. being envied. 19. • ease '—help, ease from difficulty or labour. 20. better slide into their business'-gentler and safer means
for maintaining their authority and carrying on their govern
ANALYSIS OF ESSAY XIV.
I. Nob as part of an estate:
1. Its effects are beneficial in
(a.) Modifying the power of a sovereign.
(2.) Impartiality (Netherlands).
(a.) Danger of becoming too powerful for justice.
(6.) Causing poverty.
1. An old nobility is venerable.
have been attained originally through crime.