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Sir Francis Bacon

Essay 28

Of Expence.
1 RIches are for Spending; And Spending for Honour and good Actions. Therefore Extraordinary Expence must be limitted by the Worth of the Occasion: For Voluntary Vndoing, may be aswell for a Mans Country, as for the Kingdome of Heauen. But Ordinary Expence ought to be limitted by a Mans Estate; And gouerned with such regard, as it be within his Compasse; And not subiect to Deceit and Abuse of Seruants; And ordered to the best Shew, that the Bils may be lesse, then the Estimation abroad. Certainly, if a Man will keep but of Euen hand, his Ordinary Expences ought to be, but to the Halfe of his Receipts; And if he thinke to waxe Rich, but to the Third Part. It is no Basenesse, for the Greatest, to descend and looke, into their owne Estate. Some forbeare it, not vpon Negligence alone, But doubting to bring Themselues into Melancholy, in respect they shall finde it Broken. But Wounds cannot be Cured without Searching. He that cannot looke into his own Estate at all, had need both Choose well, those whom he employeth, and change them often: For New are more Timorous, and lesse Subtile. He that can looke into his Estate but seldome, it behoueth him to turne all to Certainties. A Man had need, if he be Plentifull, in some kinde of Expence, to be as Sauing againe, in some other. As if he be Plentifull in Diet, to be Sauing in Apparell: If he be Plentifull in the Hall, to be Sauing in the Stable: And the like. For he that is Plentifull in Expences of all Kindes, will hardly be preserued from Decay. In Clearing of a Mans Estate, he may as well hurt Himselfe in being too sudden, as in letting it runne on too long. For hasty Selling is commonly as Disaduantageable as Interest. Besides, he that cleares at once, will relapse; For finding himselfe out of Straights, he will reuert to his Customes: But hee that cleareth by Degrees, induceth a Habite of Frugalitie, and gaineth as well vpon his Minde, as vpon his Estate. Certainly, who hath a State to repaire, may not despise small Things: And commonly, it is lesse dishonourable, to abridge pettie Charges, then to stoope to pettie Gettings. A Man ought warily to beginne Charges, which once begun will Continue: But in Matters, that returne not, he may be more Magnificent.

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Edited by Ian Lancashire (Dept. of English, University of Toronto) Assisted by Allison Hay.
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