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Sir Francis Bacon


Essay 55

Of Honour and Reputation.
1 THe Winning of Honour, is but the Reuealing of a Mans Vertue and Worth, without Disaduantage. For some in their Actions, doe Wooe and affect Honour, and Reputation: Which Sort of Men, are commonly much Talked of, but inwardly little Admired. And some, contrariwise, darken their Vertue, in the Shew of it; So as they be vnder-ualued in opinion. If a Man performe that which hath not beene attempted before; Or attempted & giuen ouer; Or hath beene atchieued, but not with so good Circumstance; he shall purchase more Honour, then by Effecting a Matter of greater Difficulty, or Vertue, wherein he is but a Follower. If a Man so temper his Actions, as in some one of them, hee doth content euerie Faction, or Combination of People, the Musicke will bee the fuller. A man is an ill Husband of his Honour, that entreth into any Action, the Failing wherein may disgrace him more, them the Carying of it through can Honor him. Honour, that is gained and broken vpon Another, hath the quickest Reflection; Like Diamonds cut with Fascets. And therefore, let a Man contend, to excell any Competitors of his in Honour, in Out-shooting them, if he can, in their owne Bowe. Discreet Followers and Seruants helpe much to Reputation. Omnis Fama à Domesticis emanat. Enuy, which is the Canker of Honour, is best extinguished, by declaring a Mans Selfe, in his Ends, rather to seeke Merit, then Fame: And by Attributing a Mans Successes, rather to diuine Prouidence and Felicity, then to his owne Vertue or Policy. The true Marshalling of the Degrees of Soueraigne Honour are these. In the First Place are Conditores Imperiorum; Founders of States, and Common-Wealths: Such as were Romulus, Cyrus, Cæsar, Ottoman, Ismael. In the Second Place are Legis-latores, Lawgiuers; which are also called, Second Founders, or Perpetui Principes, because they Gouerne by their Ordinances, after they are gone: Such were Lycurgus, Solon, Iustinian, Eadgar, Alphonsus of Castile, the Wise, that made the Siete Partidas. In the Third Place, are Liberatores, or Saluatores: Such as compound the long Miseries of Ciuill Warres, or deliuer their Countries from Seruitude of Strangers, or Tyrants; As Augustus Cæsar, Vespasianus, Aurelianus, Theodoricus, K. Henry the 7. of England, K. Henry the 4. of France. In the Fourth Place, are Propagatores or Propugnatores Imperij; Such as in Honourable Warres enlarge their Territories, or make Noble defence against Inuaders. And in the Last Place, are Patres Patricæ; which reigne iustly, & make the Times good, wherein they liue. Both which last Kindes, need no Examples, they are in such Number. Degrees of Honour in Subiects are; First , Participes Curarum; Those vpon whom Princes doe discharge the greatest Weight of their Affaires; Their Right Hands, as we call them. The Next are, Duces Belli, Great Leaders; Such as are Princes Lieutenants, and doe them Notable Seruices in the Warres. The Third are, Gratiosi; Fauourites; Such as exceed not this Scantling; To be Solace to the Soueraigne, and Harmelesse to the People. And the Fourth, Negotijs pares; Such as haue great Places vnder Princes, and execute their Places with Sufficiency. There is an Honour likewise, which may be ranked amongst the Greatest, which happeneth rarely: That is, of such as Sacrifice them- selues, to Death or Danger, for the Good of their Countrey: As was M. Regulus, and the Two Decij.

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