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ticulars, one by one; but the general counsels, and the plots and marshalling of affairs, come best from those that are learned.
To spend too much time in studies, is sloth; to use them too much for ornament, is affectation; to make judgment wholly by their rule, is the humour of a scholar; they perfect nature, and are perfected by experience
for natural abilities are like natural plants, that need pruning by study; and studies themselves do give forth directions too much at large, except they be bounded in by experience. Crafty men contemn studies, simple men admire them, and wise men use them; for they teach not their own use; but that is a wisdom without them, and above them, won by observation. Read not to contradict and confute, nor to believe and take for granted, nor to find talk and discourse, but to weigh and consider.
Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested : that is, some books are to be read only in parts; others to be read, but not curiously; and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention. Some books also may be read by deputy, and extracts made of them by others; but that would be only in the less important arguments, and the meaner sort of books; else distilled books are, like common distilled waters, flashy things.
Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man; and, therefore, if a man write little, he had need have a great memory; if he confer little, he had need have a present wit; and if he read little, he had need have much cunning, to seem to know that he doth not.
Advantage of having the Counsel of a friend.
There is as much difference between the counsel that a friend giveth, and that a man giveth himself, as there is between the counsel of a friend and of a flatterer; for there is no such flatterer as is a man's self, and there is no such remedy against flattery of a man's self as the liberty of a friend. Counsel is of two sorts; the one concerning manners, the other concerning business.
For the first, the best preservative to keep the mind in health is the faithful admonition of a friend. The calling of a man's self to a strict account, is a medicine sometimes too piercing and corrosive; reading good books of morality is a little flat and dead; observing our faults in others is sometimes improper for our case; but the best receipt (best, I say, to work, and best to take) is the admonition of a friend. It is a strange thing to behold what gross errors and extreme absurdities many (especially of the greater sort) do commit, for want of a friend to tell them of them, to the great damage both of their fame and fortune ; for, as Saint James saith, they are as men“ that look sometimes into a glass, and presently forget their own shape and favour.”
As for business, a man may think, if he will, that two eyes see no more than one; or that a gamester seeth always more than a looker on; or that a man in anger is as wise as he that hath said over the fourand-twenty letters; or, that a musket may be shot off
upon the arm as upon a rest; and such other fond and high imaginations, to think himself all in all :
but when all is done, the help of good counsel is that which setteth business straight; and if any man think that he will take counsel, but it shall be by pieces; asking counsel in one business of one man, and in another business of another man; it is as well (that is to say, better, perhaps, than if he asked none at all), but he runneth two dangers; one, that he shall not be faithfully counselled—for it is a rare thing, except it be from a perfect and entire friend, to have counsel given but such as shall be bowed and crooked to some ends which he hath that giveth it; the other, that he shall have counsel given, hurtful and unsafe (though with good meaning), and mixed partly of mischief and partly of remedy-even as if you would call a physician that is thought good for the cure of the disease you complain of but is unacquainted with your body — and therefore, may put you in a way for present cure, but overthroweth your health in some other kind, and so cure the disease and kill the patient: but a friend, that is wholly acquainted with a man's estate, will beware, by furthering any present business, how he dasheth upon other inconvenienceand therefore rest not upon scattered counsels, for they will rather distract and mislead than settle and direct.
What is Truth ? said jesting Pilate, and would not stay for an answer. Certainly there be, that delight in giddiness, and count it a bondage to fix a belief; affecting free-will in thinking, as well as acting. And though the sects of philosophers of that kind be gone, yet there remain certain discoursing wits, which are of the same veins, though there be not so much blood in them as was in those of the ancients. But it is not only the difficulty and labour which men take in finding out of truth; nor again, that when it is found, it imposeth upon men's thoughts, that doth bring lies in favour; but a natural, though corrupt love, of the lie itself. One of the latter schools of the Grecians examineth the matter, and is at a stand, to think what should be in it that men should love lies; where neither they make for pleasure, as with poets, nor for advantage, as with the merchant, but for the lie's sake. But I cannot tell. This same truth is a naked and open daylight, that does not show the masks, and mummeries, and triumphs of the world, half so stately and daintily as candle-light. Truth may perhaps come to the price of a pearl, that showeth best by day; but it will not rise to the price of a diamond or carbuncle, that showeth best in varied lights. A mixture of a lie doth ever add pleasure. Doth any man ever doubt, that if there were taken out of men's minds vain opinions, flattering hopes, false valuations, imaginations as one would, and the like; but it would leave the minds of a number of men, poor shrunken things, full of melancholy and indisposition, and unpleasing to themselves?
But it is not the lie that passeth through the mind, but the lie that sinketh in, and settleth in it, that doth the hurt, such as we spake of before. But howsoever these things are thus in men's depraved judgments and affections ; yet truth, which only doth judge itself, teacheth, that the enquiry of truth, which is the love. making, or wooing of it: the knowledge of truth, which is the presence of it; and the belief of truth, which is the enjoying of it, is the sovereign good of human nature. The first creature of God in the works of the days, was the light of the sense; the last was the light of reason; and his Sabbath-work ever since, is the illumination of his spirit. First, he breathed light upon the face of the matter of chaos; then he breathed light into the face of man; and still he breatheth and inspireth light into the face of his chosen. The poet saith excellently well: “ It is a pleasure to stand upon the shore, and to see ships tossed upon the sea; a pleasure to stand in the window of a castle and to see a battle, and the adventure thereof below: but no pleasure is comparable to the standing upon the vantage-ground of truth: (an hill not to be commanded, and where the air is always clear and serene :) and to see the errors and wanderings, and mists, and tempests in the vale below:” so always that this prospect be with pity, and not with swelling or pride. Certainly it is heaven upon earth, to have a man's mind move in charity, rest in Providence, and turn upon the poles of truth.
To pass from theological and philosophical truth, to the truth of civil business, it will be acknowledged, even by those that practise it not, that clear and round dealing is the honour of man's nature, and that mixture of falsehood is like alloy in coin of gold and silver, which may make the metal work the better, but it embaseth it. For these winding and crooked courses are the goings of the serpent, which goeth basely upon the belly, and not upon the feet. There is no vice that doth so cover a man with shame, as to be found false