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Essays (1625)

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Sir Francis Bacon


Essay 25

Of Dispatch.
1 AFected Dispatch, is one of the most dangerous things to Businesse that can be. It is like that, which the Physicians call Predigestion, or Hasty Digestion; which is sure to fill the Body, full of Crudities, and secret Seeds of Diseases. Therefore, measure not Dispatch, by the Times of Sitting, but by the Aduancement of the Businesse. And as in Races, it is not the large stride, or High Lift, that makes the Speed: So in Businesse, the Keeping close to the matter, and not Taking of it too much at once, procureth Dispatch. It is the Care of Some, onely to come off speedily, for the time; Or to contriue some false Periods of Businesse, because they may seeme Men of Dispatch. But it is one Thing, to Abbreuiate by Contracting, Another by Cutting off: And Businesse so handled at seuerall Sittings or Meetings, goeth commonly backward and forward, in an vnsteady Manner. I knew a Wise Man, that had it for a By-word, when he saw Men hasten to a conclusion; Stay a little, that we may make an End the sooner.
2 On the other side, True Dispatch is a rich Thing. For Time is the measure of Businesse, as Money is of Wares: And Businesse is bought at a deare Hand, where there is small dispatch. The Spartans, and Spaniards, haue been noted to be of Small dispatch; Mi venga la Muerte de Spagna; Let my Death come from Spaine; For then it will be sure to be long in comming.
3 Giue good Hearing to those, that giue the first Information in Businesse; And rather direct them in the beginning, then interrupt them in the continuance of their Speeches: for he that is put out of his owne Order, will goe forward and backward, and be more tedious while he waits vpon his Memory, then he could haue been, if he had gone on, in his owne course. But sometimes it is seene, that the Moderator is more troublesome, then the Actor.
4 Iterations are commonly losse of Time: But there is no such Gaine of Time, as to iterate often the State of the Question: For it chaseth away many a Friuolous Speech, as it is comming forth. Long and Curious Speeches, are as fit for Dispatch, as a Robe or Mantle with a long Traine, is for Race. Prefaces, and Passages, and Excusations, and other Speeches of Reference to the Person, are great wasts of Time; And though they seeme to proceed of Modesty, they are Brauery. Yet beware of being too Materiall, when there is any Impediment or Obstruction in Mens Wils; For Pre-occupation of Minde, euer requireth preface of Speech; Like a Fomentation to make the vnguent enter.
5 Aboue all things, Order, and Distribution, and Singling out of Parts, is the life of Dispatch; So as the Distribution be not too subtill: For he that doth not diuide, will neuer enter well into Businesse; And he that diuideth too much, will neuer come out of it clearely. To choose Time, is to saue Time; And an Vnseasonable Motion is but Beating the Ayre. There be three Parts of Businesse: The Preparation; The Debate, or Examination; And the Perfection. Whereof, if you looke for Dispatch, let the Middle onely be the Worke of Many, and the First and Last the Worke of Few. The Proceeding vpon somewhat conceiued in Writing, doth for the most part facilitate Dispatch: For though it should be wholly reiected, yet that Negatiue is more pregnant of Direction, then an Indefinite; As Ashes are more Generatiue then Dust.

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Edited by Ian Lancashire (Dept. of English, University of Toronto) Assisted by Allison Hay.
As published in I. Lancashire, in collaboration with J. Bradley, W. McCarty, M. Stairs, and T. R. Wooldridge. Using TACT and Electronic Texts: Text-Analysis Computing Tools Vers. 2.1 for MS-DOS and PC DOS. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 1996. CD-ROM.
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