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Sir Francis Bacon


Essay 51

Of Faction.
1 MAny haue an Opinion not wise; That for a Prince to Gouerne his Estate; Or for a Great Person to gouerne his Proceedings, according to the Respect of Factions, is a Principall Part of Policy: whereas contrariwise, the Chiefest Wisdome is; either in Ordering those Things, which are Generall, and wherein Men of Seuerall Factions doe neuerthelesse agree; Or in dealing with Correspondence to Particular Persons, one by one. But I say not, that the consideration of Factions, is to be Neglected. Meane Men, in their Rising, must adhere; But Great Men, that haue Strength in themselues, were better to maintaine themselues Indifferent, and Neutrall. Yet euen in beginners, to adhere so moderately, as hee bee a Man of the one Faction, which is most Passable with the other, commonly giueth best Way. The Lower and Weaker Faction, is the firmer in Coniunction: And it is often seene, that a few, that are Stiffe, doe tire out, a greater Number, that are more Moderate. When One of the Factions is Extinguished, the Remaining Subdiuideth: As the Faction, betweene Lucullus, and the Rest of the Nobles of the Senate (which they called Optimates) held out a while, against the Faction of Pompey and Cæsar: But when the Senates Authority was pulled Downe, Cæsar and Pompey soone after brake. The Faction or Partie of Antonius, and Octauianus Cæsar, against Brutus and Cassius, held out likewise for a time: But when Brutus and Cassius were ouerthrowne, then soone after Antonius and Octauianus brake and Subdiuided. These Examples are of Warres, but the same holdeth in Priuate Factions. And therefore, those that are Seconds in Factions, doe many times, when the Faction Subdiuideth, proue Principals: But many times also, they proue Ciphars and Casheer'd: For many a Mans Strength is in opposition; And when that faileth, he groweth out of vse. It is commonly seene, that Men once Placed, take in with the Contrary Faction to that, by which they enter; Thinking belike that they haue the First Sure; And now are Readie for a New Purchase. The Traitour in Faction lightly goeth away with it; For when Matters haue stucke long in Ballancing, the Winning of some one Man casteth them, and he getteth all the Thankes. The Euen Carriage betweene two Factions, proceedeth not alwaies of Moderation, but of a Truenesse to a Mans Selfe, with End to make vse of both. Certainly in Italy, they hold it a little suspect in Popes, when they haue often in their Mouth, Padre commune: And take it, to be a Signe of one, that meaneth to referre all, to the Greatnesse of his owne House. Kings had need beware, how they Side themselues, and make themselues as of a Faction or Partie: For Leagues, within the State, are euer Pernicious to Monarchies; For they raise an Obligation, Paramount to Obligation of Soueraigntie, and make the King, Tanquàm vnus ex nobis: As was to be seene, in the League of France. When Factions are carried too high, and too violently, it is a Signe of Weaknesse in Princes; And much to the Preiudice, both of their Authoritie, and Businesse. The Motions of Factions, vnder Kings, ought to be like the Motions ( as the Astronomers speake) of the Inferiour Orbs; which may haue their Proper Motions, but yet still, are quietly carried, by the Higher Motion, of Primum Mobile.

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