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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 coun- .
sel, 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.
We take cunning for a sinister or crooked wisdom; and, certainly, there is a great difference between a cunning man and a wise man, not only in point of honesty, but in point of ability. There be that can pack the cards, and yet cannot play well; so there are some that are good in canvasses and factions, that are otherwise weak men. Again, it is one thing to understand persons, and another thing to understand matters; for many are perfect in men's humours, that are not greatly capable of the real part of business, which is the constitution of one that hath studied men more than books. Such men are fitter for practice than for counsel, and they are good but in their own alley: turn them to new men, and they have lost their aim ; so as the old rule to know a fool from a wise man, “ Mitte ambos nudos ad ig“notos, et videbis,” doth scarce hold for them; and, because these cunning men are like haberdashers of small wares, it is not amiss to set forth their shop.
It is a point of cunning to wait upon him with whom you speak with your eye, as the Jesuits give it in precept: for there be many wise men that have secret hearts and transparent countenances: yet this would be done with a demure abasing of your eye sometimes, as the Jesuits also do use.
Another is, that when you have any thing to obtain of present despatch, you entertain and amuse the party with whom you deal with some other discourse, that he be not too much awake to make objections. I knew a counsellor and secretary, that never came to queen Elizabeth of England with bills to sign, but he would always first put her into some discourse of state, that she might the less mind the bills.
The like surprise may be made by moving things when the party is in haste, and cannot stay to consider advisedly of that is moved.
If a man would cross a business that he doubts some other would handsomely and efsectively move, let him pretend to wish it well, and move it himself in such sort as may soil it.
The breaking off in the midst of that one