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Sir Francis Bacon

Essay 49

Of Sutours.
1 MAny ill Matters and Proiects are vndertaken; And Priuate Sutes doe Putrifie the Publique Good. Many Good Matters are vndertaken with Bad Mindes; I meane not onely Corrupt Mindes, but Craftie Mindes, that intend not Performance. Some embrace Sutes, which neuer meane to deale effectually in them; But if they see, there may be life in the Matter, by some other meane, they will be content to winne a Thanke, or take a Second Reward, or at least to make Vse, in the meane time, of the Sutours Hopes. Some take hold of Sutes, onely for an Occasion, to Crosse some other; Or to make an Information, whereof they could not otherwise haue apt Pretext; without Care what become of the Sute, when that Turne is serued: Or generally, to make other Mens Businesse, a Kinde of Entertainment, to bring in their owne. Nay, some vndertake Sutes, with a full Purpose, to let them fall; To the end, to gratifie the Aduerse Partie, or Competitour. Surely, there is, in some sort, a Right in euery Sute: Either a Right of Equity, if it be a Sute of Controuersie; Or a Right of Desert, if it be a Sute of Petition. If Affection lead a Man, to fauour the Wrong Side in Iustice, let him rather vse his Countenance, to Compound the Matter, then to Carry it. If Affection lead a Man, to fauour the lesse Worthy in Desert, let him doe it without Deprauing or Disabling the Better Deseruer. In Sutes, which a man doth not well vnderstand, it is good to referre them, to some Frend of Trust and Iudgement, that may report whether hee may deale in them with Honour: But let him chuse well his Referendaries, for else he may be led by the Nose. Sutours are so distasted with Delayes, and Abuses, that PIaine Dealing, in denying to deale in Sutes at first, and Reporting the Successe barely, and in Challenging no mero Thanks then one hath deserued, is grwon not onely Honourable, but also Gracious. In Sutes of Fauour, the first Comming ought to take little Place: So farre forth Consideration may bee had of his Trust, that if Intelligence of the Matter, could not otherwise haue beene had, but by him, Aduantage bee not taken of the Note, but the Partie left to his other Meanes; and, in some sort, Recompenced for his Discouerie. To be Ignorant of the value of a Sute, is Simplicitie; As well as to be Ignorant of the Right thereof, is Want of Conscience. Secrecie in Sutes, is a great Meane of Obtaining; For voycing them, to bee in Forwardnesse, may discourage some Kinde of Sutours; But doth Quicken and Awake Others. But Timing of the Sute, is the Principall. Timing, I say, not onely in respect of the Person, that should graunt it, but in respect of those, which are like to Crosse it. Let a Man, in the choice of his Meane, rather chuse the Fittest Meane, then the Greatest Meane: And rather them, that deale in certaine Things, then those that are Generall. The Reparation of a Deniall, is somtimes EqualI to the first Grant; If a Man shew himselfe, neither deiected, nor discontented. Iniquum petas, vt AEquum feras; is a good Rule, where a Man hath Strength of Fauour: But otherwise, a man were better rise in his Sute; For he that would haue ventured at first to haue lost the Sutour, will not in the Conclusion, lose both the Sutour, and his owne former Fauour. Nothing is thought so Easie a Request, to a great Person, as his Letter; And yet, if it be not in a Good Cause, it is so much out of his Reputation. There are no worse Instruments, then these Generall Contriuers of Sutes: For they are but a Kinde of Poyson and Infection to Publique Proceedings.

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