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and body. Therefore, since custom is the principal magistrate of man's life let men by all means endeavour to obtain good 'customs. Certainly custom is most perfect when it beginneth in young years: this we call education; which is, in effect, but an early custom. So we see, in languages the tongue is more pliant to all expressions and sounds, the joints are more supple to all feats of activity and motions, in youth than afterwards. For it is true that late learners cannot so well take the ply;1 except it be in some minds that have not suffered themselves to fix, but have kept themselves open and prepared to receive continual amendment, which is exceeding rare. But if the force of custom simple and separate be great, the force of custom copulate 2 and conjoined and collegiate3 is far greater.X For there example teacheth, company comforteth, emulation quickeneth, glory raiseth: so as in such places the force of custom is in his exaltation. Certainly the great multiplication of virtues upon human na


1 Ply.

Bent, direction.

2 Copulate. Connected, united.

3 Collegiate. Of or belonging to colleagues; corporate.

4 Comfort, in the Latin sense, to strengthen much. "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me." Psalms xxiii. 4. "Be comfortable to my mother, your mistress, and make much of her." Shakspere. All's Well that Ends Well. i. 1. Its. The pronoun 'its' first appeared in print in John Florio's A Worlde of Wordes, 1598. It does not occur in King James's Bible of 1611, nor in any work of Shakspere published during his lifetime. There are, however, nine 'it's' and one 'its' in the Shakspere folio of 1623. The essay Of Custom and Education first saw the light in the second edition of the Essays, in 1612.

5 His.

6 Exaltation. In astrological language, a planet was said to be in exaltation when it was in that sign of the zodiac where it was supposed to exert its strongest influence.

7 Multiplication upon. Compare the language of the Collect for the fourth Sunday after Trinity in The Book of Common Prayer: "Increase and multiply upon us thy mercy."

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ture resteth upon societies well ordained and disciplined. For commonwealths and good governments do nourish virtue grown, but do not much mend the seeds. But the misery is, that the most effectual means are now applied to the ends least to be desired.


It cannot be denied, but outward accidents conduce much to fortune; favour, opportunity, death of others, occasion fitting virtue. But chiefly, the mould of a man's fortune is in his own hands. Faber quisque fortunæ suæ,1 saith the poet. And the most frequent of external causes is, that the folly of one man is the fortune of another. For no man prospers so suddenly as by others' errors. Serpens nisi serpentem comederit non fit draco.2 Overt and apparent3 virtues bring forth praise; but there be secret and hidden virtues that bring forth fortune; certain deliveries of a man's self, which have no

1 Every man is the maker of his own fortune. It is a Latin epigram of Bacon's, making in four words a short cut through eight words of Plautus:

Nam sapiens quidem pol ipsus fingit fortunam sibi.

15 Jana sé For indeed the wise man really makes his own fortune for him*** self. Plautus. Trinummus. II. ii. 82.

2 Unless the serpent has devoured a serpent, it does not become a dragon.

3 Apparent.

Manifest to the understanding, evident, plain.
"It may be, these apparent prodigies,
The unaccustom'd terror of this night,
And the persuasion of his augurers,
May hold him from the Capitol to-day."

Shakspere. Julius Caesar. ii. 1.


The Spanish name, desemboltura,1 partly expresseth them; when there be not stonds nor restiveness in a man's nature; but that the wheels of his mind keep way2 with the wheels of his fortune. For so Livy (after he had described Cato Major3 in these words, In illo viro tantum robur corporis et animi fuit, ut quocunque loco natus esset, fortunam sibi facturus videretur) falleth upon that, that he had versatile ingenium.5 Therefore if a man look sharply and attentively, he shall see Fortune: for though she be blind, yet she is not invisible. The way of fortune is like the milken way in the sky; which is a meeting or knot of a number of small stars; not seen asunder, but giving light together. So are there a number of little and scarce discerned virtues, or rather faculties and customs, that make men fortunate. The Italians note some of them, such as a man would little think. When they speak of one that cannot do amiss, they will throw in into his other conditions, that he hath Poco di matto." And certainly there be not two more fortunate properties, than to have a little of the fool, and not


1 Desemboltura for desenvoltura (from desenvolver, to unroll, unfold). Graceful and easy delivery of one's sentiments and thoughts.

2 Keep way. To keep pace.

3 Marcus Porcius Cato, surnamed 'the Censor' and Priscus, 234-149 B.C., Roman statesman, general, and writer.

4 In that man there was so much strength of body and of mind, that in whatever place he had been born, it seems he would have made a fortune for himself. (In hoc viro tanta vis animi ingeniique fuit, ut quocunque loco natus esset, fortunam sibi ipse facturus fuisse videretur. T. Livii Patavini Historiarum Ab Urbe Condita Liber XXXIX. Caput 40.)

5 A mind easily turned from one thing to another. 6 Milken way. The galaxy, or milky way; a luminous band or track encircling the heavens irregularly, and known to consist of innumerable stars perceptible only by means of the telescope.

A little of the fool.


too much of the honest. Therefore extreme lovers of their country or masters were never fortunate, neither can they be. For when a man placeth his thoughts without himself, he goeth not his own way. An hasty fortune maketh an enterpriser1 and remover; 2 (the French hath it better, entreprenant, or remuant;) but the exercised fortune maketh the able man. Fortune is to be honoured and respected, and it be but for her daughters, Confidence and Reputation. For those two felicity breedeth; the first within a man's self, the latter in others towards him. All wise men, to decline3 the envy of their own virtues, use to ascribe them to Providence and Fortune; for so they may the better assume them: and, besides, it is greatness in a man to be the care of the higher powers. So Cæsar said to the pilot in the tempest, Cæsarem portas, et fortunam ejus. So Sylla chose the name of Felix, and not of Magnus.5 And it hath been noted, that those who ascribe openly too much to their own wisdom and policy, end infortunate. It is written that Timotheus the Athenian, after he had, in the account he gave to the state of his government, often interlaced this speech, and in this Fortune had no part, never prospered in any thing he undertook afterwards. Certainly there be, whose fortunes are like Homer's verses, that have a slide and easiness more than

1 Enterpriser.

2 Remover. An agitator.

One who attempts an undertaking; an adventurer.

3 Decline. To avoid; to turn aside.

4 You carry Caesar and his fortune. Plutarch. Life of Caesar.

5 'Fortunate' and not of 'Great.' Plutarch. Life of Sulla. Timotheus, died 354 B.C., Athenian naval commander.

7 Slide. Fluency.

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the verses of other poets; as Plutarch saith of Timoleon's1 fortune, in respect of that of Agesilaus or Epaminondas.2 And that this should be, no. doubt it is much in a man's self.


MANY have made witty invectives against Usury.3 They say that it is a pity the devil should have God's part, which is the tithe. That the usurer is the greatest sabbath-breaker, because his plough goeth every Sunday. That the usurer is the drone that Virgil speaketh of:

Ignavum fucos pecus a præsepibus arcent.1

That the usurer breaketh the first law that was made for mankind after the fall, which was, in sudore vultus tui comedes panem tuum; not, in sudore vultús alieni.5 That usurers should have orangetawny bonnets, because they do judaize. That it

1 Timoleon, died 337 or 336 B.C., a celebrated Corinthian general and statesman.

2 Epaminondas, 418 (?)-362 B.C., Theban general and statesman, victorious but mortally wounded in the battle of Mantinea, 362 B.C.

3 Usury formerly meant interest on money only, as in the parable, Luke xix. 23: "Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury?" Usury now means an illegal or exorbitant rate of interest for lent money.

4 They drive from the hives the drones in lazy swarm. P. Vergili Maronis Georgicon Liber IV. 168.

5 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat thy bread; not in the sweat of the face of another. Bacon has in mind the curse of Adam after the fall, Genesis iii. 19: "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken for dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return."

6 Coryats Crudities, Vol. I. Observations of Venice, pp. 370872, ed. 1905, records the "orange-tawny bonnets" of the Jews, which

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