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Sir Francis Bacon


Essay 48

Of Followers and Frends.
1 COstly Followers are not to be liked; Lest while a Man maketh his Traine Longer, hee make his Wings Shorter. I reckon to bee Costly, not them alone, which charge the Purse, but which are Wearisome and Importune in Sutes. Ordinary Followers ought to challenge no Higher Conditions, then Countenance, Recommendation, and Protection from Wrongs. Factious Followers are worse to be liked, which Follow not vpon Affection to him, with whom they range Themselues, but vpon Discontentment Conceiued against some Other: Whereupon commonly ensueth, that Ill Intelligence, that we many times see betweene Great Personages. Likewise Glorious Followers, who make themselues as Trumpets, of the Commendation of those they Follow, are full of Inconuenience; For they taint Businesse through Want of Secrecie; And they Export Honour from a Man, and make him a Returne in Enuie. There is a Kinde of Followers likewise, which are Dangerous, being indeed Espials; which enquire the Secrets of the House, and beare Tales of them to Others. Yet such Men, many times, are in great Fauour; For they are Officious, And Commonly Exchange Tales. The Following by certaine Estates of Men, answerable to that, which a Great Person himselfe professeth, ( as of Soldiers to him that hath been Employed in the Warres, and the like, ) hath euer beene a Thing Ciuill, and well taken euen in Monarchies; So it be without too much Pompe or Popularitie. But the most Honourable Kinde of Following, is to be Followed, as one that apprehendeth, to aduance Vertue and Desert, in all Sorts of Persons. And yet, where there is no Eminent Oddes in Sufficiencie, it is better to take with the more Passable, then with the more Able. And besides, to speake Truth, in Base Times, Actiue Men are of more vse, then Vertuous. It is true, that in Gouernment, it is Good to vse Men of one Rancke equally: for to countenance some extraordinarily, is to make them Insolent, and the rest Discontent; Because they may claime a Due. But contrariwise in Fauour, to vse Men with much Difference and Election, is Good; For it maketh the Persons Preferred more Thankfull, and the Rest more officious; Because all is of Fauour. It is good Discretion, not to make too much of any Man, at the first; Because One cannot hold out that Proportion. To be gouerned (as we call it) by One, is not safe: For it shewes Softnesse, and giues Freedome to Scandall and Disreputation: For those that would not Censure, or Speake ill of a Man immediatly, will talke more boldly of Those, that are so great with them, and thereby Wound their Honour. Yet to be Distracted with many is Worse; For it makes Men, to be of the Last Impression, and full of Change. To take Aduice of some few Frends, is euer Honourable; For Lookers on, many times, see more then Gamesters; And the Vale best discouereth the Hill. There is Little Frendship in the World, and Least of all betweene Equals, which was wont to be Magnified. That that is, is between Superiour and Inferiour, whose Fortunes may Comprehend, the One the Other.

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