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Sir Francis Bacon


Essay 11

Of Great Place.
1 MEn in Great Place, are thrice Seruants: Seruants of the Soueraigne or State; Seruants of Fame; and Seruants of Businesse. So as they haue no Freedome; neither in their Persons; nor in their Actions; nor in their Times. It is a strange desire, to seeke Power, and to lose Libertie; Or to seeke Power ouer others, and to loose Power ouer a Mans Selfe. The Rising vnto Place is Laborious; And by Paines Men come to greater Paines; And it is sometimes base; And by Indignities, Men come to Dignities. The standing is slippery, and the Regresse, is either a downefall, or at least an Eclipse, which is a Melancholy Thing. Cùm non sis, qui fueris, non esse, cur velis viuere. Nay, retire Men cannot, when they would; neither will they, when it were Reason: But are impatient of priuatenesse, euen in Age, and Sicknesse, which require the Shadow: Like old Townesmen, that will be still sitting at their Street doore; though thereby they, offer Age to Scorne. Certainly Great Persons, had need to borrow other Mens Opinions; to thinke themselues happy; For if they iudge by their owne Feeling; they cannot finde it: But if they thinke with themselues, what other men thinke of them, and that other men would faine be as they are, then they are happy, as it were by report; When perhaps they finde the Contrary within. For they are the first, that finde their owne Griefs; though they be the last, that finde their owne Faults. Certainly, Men in Great Fortunes, are strangers to themselues, and while they are in the pusle of businesse, they haue no time to tend their Health, either of Body, or Minde. Illi Mors grauis incubat, qui notus nimis omnibus, ignotus moritur sibi. In Place, There is License to doe Good, and Euill; wherof the latter is a Curse; For in Euill, the best condition is, not to will; The Second, not to Can. But Power to doe good, is the true and lawfull End of Aspiring. For good Thoughts ( though God accept them, ) yet towards men, are little better then good Dreames; Except they be put in Act; And that cannot be without Power, and Place; As the Vantage, and Commanding Ground. Merit, and good Works, is the End of Mans Motion; And Conscience of the same, is the Accomplishment of Mans Rest. For if a Man, can be Partaker of Gods Theater, he shall likewise be Partaker of Gods Rest. Et conuersus Deus, vt aspiceret Opera, quæ fecerunt manus suæ, vidit quod omnia essent bona nimis; And then the Sabbath. In the Discharge of thy Place, set before thee the best Examples; For Imitation, is a Globe of Precepts. And after a time, set before thee, thine owne Example; And examine thy selfe strictly, whether thou didst not best at first. Neglect not also the Examples of those, that haue carried themselues ill, in the same Place: Not to set off thy selfe, by taxing their Memory; but to direct thy selfe, what to auoid. Reforme therfore, without Brauerie, or Scandall, of former Times, and Persons; but yet set it downe to thy selfe, as well to create good Presidents, as to follow them. Reduce things, to the first Institution, and obserue, wherin, and how, they haue degenerate; but yet aske Counsell of both Times; Of the Ancient Time, what is best; and of the Latter Time, what is fittest. Seeke to make thy Course Regular; that Men may know before hand, what they may expect: But be not too positiue, and peremptorie; And expresse thy selfe well, when thou digressest from thy Rule. Preserue the Right of thy Place; but stirre not questions of Iurisdiction: And rather assume thy Right, in Silence, and de facto, then voice it, with Claimes and Challenges. Preserue likewise, the Rights of Inferiour Places; And thinke it more Honour to direct in chiefe, then to be busie in all. Embrace, and inuite Helps, and Aduices, touching the Execution of thy Place; And doe not driue away such, as bring thee Information, as Medlers; but accept of them in good part. The vices of Authoritie are chiefly foure: Delaies; Corruption; Roughnesse; and Facilitie. For Delaies; Giue easie Accesse; Keepe times appointed; Goe through with that which is in hand; And interlace not businesse, but of necessitie. For Corruption; Doe not onely binde thine owne Hands, or thy Seruants hands, from taking; but binde the hands of Sutours also from offring. For Integritie vsed doth the one; but Integritie professed, and with a manifest detestation of Bribery, doth the other. And auoid not onely the Fault, but the Suspicion. Whosoeuer is found variable, and changeth manifestly, without manifest Cause, giueth Suspicion of Corruption. Therefore, alwayes, when thou changest thine Opinion, or Course, professe it plainly, and declare it, together with the Reasons, that moue thee to change; And doe not thinke to steale it. A Seruant, or a Fauorite, if hee be inward, and no other apparant Cause of Esteeme, is commonly thought but a By-way, to close Corruption. For Roughnesse; It is a needlesse cause of Discontent: Seueritie breedeth Feare, but Roughnesse breedeth Hate. Euen Reproofes from Authoritie, ought to be Graue, and not Taunting. As for Facilitie; It is worse then Bribery. For Bribes come but now and then; But if Importunitie, or Idle Respects lead a Man, he shall neuer be without. As Salomon saith; To respect Persons, is not good; For such a man will transgresse for a peece of Bread. It is most true, that was anciently spoken; A place sheweth the Man: And it sheweth some to the better, and some to the worse: Omnium consensu, capax Imperij, nisi imperasset; saith Tacitus of Galba: but of Vespasian he saith; Solus Imperantium Vespasianus mutatus in melius. Though the one was meant of Sufficiencie, the other of Manners, and Affection. It is an assured Signe, of a worthy and generous Spirit, whom Honour amends. For Honour is, or should be, the Place of Vertue: And as in Nature, Things moue violently to their Place, and calmely in their Place: So Vertue in Ambition is violent, in Authoritie setled and calme. All Rising to Great Place, is by a winding Staire: And if there be Factions, it is good, to side a Mans selfe, whilest hee is in the Rising: and to ballance Himselfe, when hee is placed. Vse the Memory of thy Predecessour fairely, and tenderly; For if thou dost not, it is a Debt, will sure be paid, when thou art gone. If thou haue Colleagues, respect them, and rather call them, when they looke not for it, then exclude them, when they haue reason to looke to be called. Be not too sensible, or too remembring, of thy Place, in Conuersation, and priuate Answers to Suitors; But let it rather be said; When he sits in Place, he is another Man.

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