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draw to themselves such natures. Besides, counsellors are not commonly so united, but that one counsellor keepeth centinel over another ; so that if any counsel out of faction or private ends, it commonly comes to the king's ear; but the best remedy is, if princes know their counsellors, as well as their counsellors know them;
Principis est virtus maxima nosse suos."
And, on the other side, counsellors should not be too speculative into their sovereign's person. The true composition of a counsellor is, rather to be skilful in their master's business, than in his nature; for then he is like to advise him, and not to feed his humour. It is of singular use to princes if they take the opinions of their council both separately and together ; for private opinion is more free, but opinion before others is more reverend. In private, men are more bold in their own humours, and in consort men are more obnoxious to others humours, therefore it is good to take both; and of the inferior sort rather in private, to preserve freedom; of the greater, rather 'in consort, to preserve respect. It is in vain for
princes to take counsel concerning inatters, if they take no counsel likewise concerning per
for all matters are as dead images ; and the life of the execution of affairs resteth in the good choice of persons; neither is it enough to consult concerning persons,
“ secundum genera,” as in an idea of mathematical description, what the kind and character of the person should be; for the greatest errors are committed, and the most judgment is shewn, in the choice of individuals. It was truly said, " optimi consiliarii mortui ;” “ books will “ speak plain when counsellors blanch;” therefore it is good to be conversant in them, specially the books of such as themselves have been actors upon the stage.
The councils at this day in most places are but familiar meetings, where matters are rather talked on than debated; and they run too swift to the order or act of council. It were better that in causes of weight the matter were propounded one day and not spoken to till next day ;
« in nocte consilium ;" sỌ was it done in the commission of union between England and Scotland, which was a grave and orderly assembly. I commend set days for
petitions ; for both it gives the suitors more certainty for their attendance, and it frees the meetings for matters of estate, that they may “ hoc agere.” In choice of committees for ripening business for the council, it is better to choose indifferent persons, than to make an indifferency by putting in those that are strong on both sides. I commend also standing commissions; as for trade, for treasure, for war, for suits, for some provinces; for where there be divers particular councils, and but one council of estate, (as it is in Spain,) they are, in effect, no more than standing commissions, save that they have greater authority. Let such as are to inform councils out of their particular professions, (as lawyers, seamen, mintmen, and the like,) be first heard before committees ; and then, as occasion serves, before the council; and let them not come in multitudes, or in a tribunitious manner;
for that is to clamour councils, not to inform them. A long table and a square table, or seats about the walls, seem things of form, but are things of s..bstance ; for at a long table a few at the upper end, in effect, sway all the business; but in the other form there:
is more use of the counsellors' opinions that sit lower. A king, when he presides in council, let him beware how he opens his own inclination too much in that which he propoundeth; for else counsellors will but take the wind of him, and instead of giving free counsel, will sing him a song of “placebo."
FORTune is like the market, where many times, if you can stay a little, the price will fall; and again, it is sometimes like Sibylla's offer, which at first offereth the commodity at full, then consumeth part and part, and still holdeth up the price; for occasion, (as it is in the common verse,) turneth a bad noddle after she hath presented her locks in front, and no hold taken; or, at least, turneth the handle of the bottle first to be received, and after the belly which is hard to clasp. There is surely no greater wisdom than well to time the beginnings and onsets of things. Dangers are no more light, if they once seem light; and more dangers have deceived men than forced them :
nay, it were better to meet some dangers half way, though they come nothing near, than to keep too long a watch upon their approaches; ; for if a man watch too long, it is odds he will fall asleep. On the other side, to be deceived with too long shadows, (as some have been when the moon was low and shone on their enemies back,) and so to shoot off before the time; or to teach dangers to come on by overearly buckling towards them is another extreme. The ripeness or unripeness of the occasion, (as we said,) must ever be well weighed; and generally it is good to commit the beginnings of all great actions to Argos with his hundred eyes,
and the ends to Briareus with his hundred hands ; first to watch, and then to speed; for the helmet of Pluto, which maketh the politic man go invisible, is secrecy in the council, and celerity in the execution, for when things are once come to the execution, there is no secrecy comparable to celerity; like the motion of a bullet in the air, which flieth so: swift as it outruns the eye.