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and foundations are like sacrifices without salt; and but the painted sepulchres of alms, which -soon will putrefy and corrupt inwardly : therefore measure not-.thine advancements by quantity, but frame them by measure : and defer not charities till death ; for, certainly, if a meji weigh it rightly, he that doth so is rather liberal of another man's than of his
XXXV.-OF PROPHECIES. I MEAN not to speak of divine prophecies, nor of leathen oracles, nor of natural predictions; but only of prophetias that have been of certain memory, and from hidden causes. Saith the Pythonissa a to Saul, “ To-morrow thou and thy sons shall be with me." Virgil hath these verses from Homer :
“ Hic domus Æneæ cunctis dominabitur oris,
Et nati natorum, et qui nascentur ab illis.” A prophecy as it seems of the Roman empire. Seneca the tragedian hath these verses :
- Venient annis
Ultima Thule "c a prophecy of the discovery of America. The daughter of Polycratesa dreamed that Jupiter bathed her father, and
“Pythoness,” used in the sense of witch. He alludes to the witch of Endor, and the words in Samuel xxviii. 19. He is, however, mistaken in attributing these words to the witch ; it was the spirit of Samuel that said, “To-morrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me.
b. “But the house of Æneas shall reign over every shore, both his children's children, and those who shall spring from them.”
C“After the lapse of years, ages will come in which Ocean shall relax his chains around the world, and a vast continent shall appear, and Tiphys shall explore new regions, and Thule shall be no longer the utmost verge of earth."
He was king of Samos, and was treacherously put to death by Oroetes, the governor of Magnesia, in Asia Minor. His daughter, in consequence of her dream, attempted to dissuade him from visiting Orætes, but in vain.
Apollo anointed him; and it came to pass that he was crucitied in an open place, where the sun made his body run with sweat, and the rain washed it. Philip of Macedon dreamed he sealed tsp his wife's belly ; whereby he did expound it, that •Itiş' wife should be barren ; but Aristander the soothsayop, told him his wife was with child, because men do not rise to seal vessels that are empty. A phantasm that appeared to M. Brutus in his tent, said to him, “ Philippis iteruin me videbis.”e Tiberius said to Galba, “ Tu quoque; Galba, degustabis imperium."! In Vespasian's time their trent a prophecy in the East, that those that should .come forth of Judea, should reign over the world; which thóngh it may be was meant of our Saviour, yet Tacitus expounds it of Vespasian. Domitian dreamed, the night before he was slain, that a golden head was growing out of the nape of his neck; and indeed the succession that followed him, for many years, made golden times. Henry the Sixth of England said of Henry the Seventh, when he was a lad, and gave him water, “ This is the lad that shall enjoy the crown for which we strive.” When I was in France, I heard from one Dr. Pena, that the queen mother, who was given to curious arts, caused the king her husband's nativity to be calculated under a false name; and the astrologer gave a judgment, that he should be killed in a duel; at which the queen laughed, thinking her husband to be above challenges and duels ; but he was slain upon a course at tilt, the splinters of the staff of Montgomery going in at his beaver. The trivial prophecy which I heard when I was a child, and Queen Elizabeth was in the flower of her years, was,
" When hempo is spunde
England's done : whereby it was generally conceived, that after the princes had reigned which had the principal letters of that word hempe (which were Henry, Edward, Mary, Philip, and Elizabeth), England should come to utter confusion; which thanks be to God, is verified only in the change of the name; for that
e "Thou shalt see me again at Philippi.”
& Catherine de Medicis, the wife of Henry II. of France, who died from a wound accidentally received in a tournament.
the king's style is now no more of England, but of Britain. There was also another prophecy before the year of eightyeight, which I do not well understand.
" There shall be seen upon a day,
Between the Baugh and the May,
For after wars shall you have none." It was generally conceived to be meant of the Spanish fleet that came in eighty-eight: for that the king of Spain's surname, as they say, is Norway. The prediction of Regiomontanus,
“Octogesimus octavus mirabilis annus," was thought likewise accomplished in the sending of that great fleet, being the greatest in strength, though not in number, of all that ever swam upon the sea. As for Cleon's dream, I think it was a jest; it was, that he was devoured of a long dragon : and it was expounded of a maker of sausages, that troubled him exceedingly. There are numbers of the like kind; especially if you include dreams, and predictions of astrology : but I have set down these few only of certain credit, for example. My judgment is, that they ought all to be despised, and ought to serve but for winter talk by the fireside : though when I say despised, I mean it as for belief; for otherwise, the spreading or publishing of them is in no sort to be despised, for they have done much mischief; and I see many severe laws made to suppress
* James I. being the first monarch of Great Britain.
“The eighty-eighth will be a wondrous year.” * Aristophanes, in his Comedy of The Knights, satirizes Cleon, the A thenian demagogue. He introduces a declaration of the oracle that the Eagle of hides (by whom Cleon was meant, his father having been a tanner) should be conquered by a serpent, which Demosthenes, one of the characters in the play, expounds as meaning a maker of sausages. How Lord Bacon could for a moment doubt that this was a mere jest, it is difficult to conjecture. The following is a literal translation of a portion of the passage from The Knights (l. 197) :"But when a leather eagle with crooked talons shall have seized with its jaws a serpent, a stupid creature, a drinker of blood, then the tan-pickle of the Paphlagonians is destroyed; but upon the sellers of sausages the Deity bestows great glory, unless they choose rather to sell sausages."
them. That that hath given them grace, and some credit, consisteth in three things. First, that men mark when they hit, and never mark when they miss ;' as they do, generally, also of dreams. The second is, that probable conjectures, or obscure traditions, many times turn themselves into prophecies ; while the nature of man, which coveteth divination, thinks it no peril to foretell that which indeed they do but collect : as that of Seneca's verse ; for so much was then subject to demonstration, that the globe of the earth had great parts beyond the Atlantic, which might be probably conceived not to be all sea: and adding thereto the tradition in Plato's Timæus, and his Atlanticus,m it might encourage one to turn it to a prediction. The third and last (which is the great one) is, that almost all of them, being infinite in number, have been impostures, and by idle and crafty brains, merely contrived and feigned, after the event past.
XXXVI.--OF AMBITION. AMBITION is like choler, which is a humour that maketh men active, earnest, full of alacrity, and stirring, if it be not stopped : but if it be stopped, and cannot have its
it becometh adust,a and thereby malign and venomous: so ambitious men, if they find the way open for their rising, and still get forward, they are rather busy than dangerous ; but if they be checked in their desires, they become secretly discontent, and look upon men and matters with an evil eye, and are best pleased when things go backward ; which is the worst property in a servant of a prince or state : therefore
1 This is a very just remark. So-called strange coincidences, and wonderful dreams that are verified, when the point is considered, are really not at all marvellous. We never hear of the 999 dreams that are not verified, but the thousandth that happens to precede its fulfilment is blazoned by unthinking people as a marvel. It would be a much more wonderful thing if dreams were not occasionally verified.
m Under this name he alludes to the Critias of Plato, in which an imaginary "terra incognita” is discoursed of under the name of the “New Atlantis.” It has been conjectured from this by some, that Plato really did believe in the existence of a continent on the other side of the globe.
Hot and fiery.
it is good for princes, if they use ambitious men, to handle it so, as they be still progressive, and not retrograde; which, because it cannot be without inconvenience, it is good not to use such natures at all ; for if they rise not with their service, they will take order to make their service fall with them. But since we have said, it were good not of ambitious natures, except it be upon necessity, it is fit we speak in what cases they are of necessity. Good commanders in the wars must be taken, be they never so ambitious ; for the use of their service dispenseth with the rest : and to take a soldier without ambition, is to pull off his spurs. There is also great use of ambitious men in being screens to princes in matters of danger and envy; for no man will take that part except he be like a seeledb dove, that mounts and mounts, because he cannot see about him. There is use also of ambitious men in pulling down the greatness of any subject that overtops; as Tiberius used Macroe in the pulling down of Sejanus. Since, therefore, they must be used in such cases, there resteth to speak how they are to be bridled, that they may be less dangerous. There is less danger of them if they be of mean birth, than if they be noble ; and if they be rather harsh of nature, than gracious and popular ; and if they be rather new raised, than grown cunning and fortified in their greatness. It is counted by some a weakness in princes to have favourites ; but it is, of all others, the best remedy against ambitious great ones ; for t when the way of pleasuring and displeasuring lieth by the favourite, it is impossible any other should be over great. Another means to curb them, is to balance them by others as proud as they : but then there must be some middle counsellors, to keep things steady; for without that ballast the ship will roll too much. At the least, a prince may animate and inure some meaner persons to be, as it were, scourges to ambitious men. As for the having of them obnoxious tod ruin, if they be of fearful natures, it may do well; but if
b With the eyes closed, or blindfolded.
© He was a favourite of Tiberius, to whose murder by Nero he was said to have been an accessary. He afterwards prostituted his own wife to Caligula, by whom he was eventually put to death
d Liable to.