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Sir Francis Bacon

Essay 31

Of Suspicion.
1 SVspicions amongst Thoughts, are like Bats amongst Birds, they euer fly by Twilight. Certainly, they are to be repressed, or, at the least, well guarded: For they cloud the Minde; they leese Frends; and they checke with Businesse, whereby Businesse cannot goe on, currantly, and constantly. They dispose Kings to Tyranny, Husbands to Iealousie, Wise Men to Irresolution and Melancholy. They are Defects, not in the Heart, but in the Braine; For they take Place in the Stoutest Natures: As in the Example of Henry the Seuenth of England: There was not a more Suspicious Man, nor a more Stout. And in such a Composition, they doe small Hurt. For commonly they are not admitted, but with Examination, whether they be likely or no? But in fearefull Natures, they gaine Ground too fast. There is Nothing makes a Man Suspect much, more then to Know little: And therefore Men should remedy Suspicion, by procuring to know more, and not to keep their Suspicions in Smother. What would Men haue? Doe they thinke, those they employ and deale with, are Saints? Doe they not thinke, they will haue their owne Ends, and be truer to Themselues, then to them? Therefore, there is no better Way to moderate Suspicions, then to account vpon such Suspicions as true, and yet to bridle them, as false. For so farre, a Man ought to make vse of Suspicions, as to prouide, as if that should be true, that he Suspects, yet it may doe him no Hurt. Suspicions, that the Minde, of it selfe, gathers, are but Buzzes; But Suspicions, that are artificially nourished, and put into Mens Heads, by the Tales, and Whisprings of others, haue Stings. Certainly, the best Meane, to cleare the Way, in this same Wood of Suspicions, is franckly to communicate them, with the Partie, that he Suspects: For thereby, he shall be sure, to know more of the Truth of them, then he did before; And withall, shall make that Party, more circumspect, not to giue further Cause of Suspicion. But this would not be done to Men of base Natures: For they, if they finde themselues once suspected, will neuer be true. The Italian saies: Sospetto licentia fede: As if Suspicion did giue a Pasport to Faith: But it ought rather to kindle it, to discharge it selfe.

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