Francis Bacon, 1st Viscount St Alban, KC (22 January 1561 - 9 April 1626) was an English philosopher, statesman and essayist but is best known for leading the scientific revolution with his new 'observation and experimentation' ...
Certainly, Fame is like a river, that beareth up things light and swollen and drowns things weighty and solid. But if persons of quality and judgement concur, then it is, (as the Scripture saith) Nomen bonum instar unguenti fragrantis : it filleth all round about, and will not easily away. For the odours of ointments are more durable than those of flowers.
The great advantages of simulation and dissimulation are three. First to lay asleep opposition and to surprise. For where a man's intentions are published, it is an alarum to call up all that are against them. The second is to reserve a man's self a fair retreat: for if a man engage himself, by a manifest declaration, he must go through, or take a fall. The third is, the better to discover the mind of another. For to him that opens himself, men will hardly show themselves adverse; but will fair let him go on, and turn their freedom of speech to freedom of thought.
It is as natural to die as to be born; and to a little infant, perhaps, the one is as painful as the other. He that dies in an earnest pursuit, is like one that is wounded in hot blood; who for the time scarce feels the hurt; and therefore a mind fixed and bent upon somewhat that is good, doth aver the dolours of death.
He that hath wife and children hath given hostages to fortune, for they are impediments to great enterprises, either of virtue or mischief. Certainly the best works and of greatest merit for the public have proceeded from the unmarried or childless men, which both in affection and means have married and endowed the public. He was reputed one of the wise men that made answer to the question, when a man should marryA young man not yet, an elder man not at all.
Young men are fitter to invent, than to judge; fitter for execution than for counsel; and fitter for new projects than for settled business; Young men, in the conduct and manage of actions, embrace more than they can hold; stir more than they can quiet; fly to the end, without consideration of the means and degrees; pursue some few principles which they have chanced upon absurdly; care not to innovate, which draws unknown inconveniences; use extreme remedies at first; and that, which doubleth all errors, will not acknowledge or retract them, like an unruly horse, that will neither stop nor turn. Men of age object too much, consult too long, adventure too little, repent too soon, and seldom drive business home to the full period, but content themselves with a mediocrity of success.
The winning of honour is but the revealing of a man's virtue and worth without disadvantage. For some in their actions do woo and affect honour and reputation, which sort of men are commonly much talked of, but inwardly little admired. And some, contrariwise, darken their virtue in the show of it, so as they be undervalued in opinion. . . . Envy, which is the canker of honour, is best extinguished by declaring a man's self in his ends, rather to seek merit than fame, and by attributing a man's successes, rather to divine Providence and felicity, than to his own virtue or policy.
Physicians are some of them so pleasing and conformable to the humour of the patient, as they press not the true cure of the disease; and some are so regular in proceeding according to art for the disease, as they respect not sufficiently the condition of the patient. Take one of a middle temper; or if it may not be found in one man, combine two of either sort; and forget not to call, as well the best acquainted with your body, as the best reputed of for his faculty.
The pencil of the Holy Ghost hath laboured more in describing the afflictions of Job, than the felicities of Solomon. Prosperity is not without many fears and distastes, and adversity is not without comforts and hopes. . . . Certainly, virtue is like precious odours, most fragrant, when they are incensed, or crushed; for prosperity doth best discover vice, but adversity doth best discover virtue.
When a traveller returneth home, let him not leave the countries where he hath travelled altogether behind him, but maintain a correspondence by letters with those of his acquaintance which are of most worth. And let his travel appear rather in his discourse than in his apparel or gesture; and in his discourse let him be rather advised in his answers, than forward to tell stories.
In dealing with cunning persons, we must ever consider their ends, to interpret their speeches; and it is good to say little to them, and that which they least look for. In all negotiations of difficulty, a man may not look to sow and reap at once, but must prepare business, and so ripen it by degrees.