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of hazard. Let these licensed lenders be in number indefinite, but restrained to certain principal cities and towns of merchandizing; for then they will be hardly able to colour1 other men's monies in the country: so as the licence of nine will not suck away the current rate of five; for no man will lend his monies far off, nor put them into unknown hands.
If it be objected that this doth in a sort authorize usury, which before was in some places but permissive; the answer is, that it is better to mitigate usury by declaration, than to suffer it to rage by connivance.
1 Colour. one's own.
XLII. OF YOUTH AND AGE.
A MAN that is young in years may be old in hours, if he have lost no time. But that happeneth rarely. Generally, youth is like the first cogitations, not so wise as the second. For there is a youth in thoughts, as well as in ages. And yet the invention of young men is more lively than that of old; and imaginations stream into their minds better, and as it were more divinely. Natures that have much heat and great and violent desires and perturbations, are not ripe for action till they have passed the meridian of their years; as it was with Julius Cæsar, and Septimius Severus. Of the latter of whom it is said, Juventu
To represent or deal with the property of another as
tem egit erroribus, imo furoribus, plenam.1 And yet he was the ablest emperor, almost, of all the list. But reposed2 natures may do well in youth. As it is seen in Augustus Cæsar, Cosmus Duke of Florence, Gaston de Fois,3 and others. On the other side, heat and vivacity in age is an excellent composition for business. Young men are fitter to invent than to judge; fitter for execution than for counsel; and fitter for new projects than for settled business. For the experience of age, in things that fall within the compass of it, directeth them; but in new things, abuseth 5 them. The errors of young men are the ruin of business; but the errors of aged men amount but to this, that more might have been done, or sooner. 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
1 He spent his youth in errors, nay rather, it was full of madnesses. Quoted with variations. "Juventam plenam furorum, nonnunquam et criminum habuit." Aelius Spartianus. Life of Septimius Severus, Caput 2, in Augustae Historiae Scriptores.
2 Reposed. Calm.
3 Gaston de Fois, Duc de Nemours, 1489-1512, son of Jean de Fois, Vicomte de Narbonne and of Marie d'Orléans, sister of Louis XII., a celebrated French general. He commanded the French armies in Italy against the Spaniards, and was killed in the battle of Ravenna, in 1512.
4 Composition. Temperament. 5 Abuse.
To deceive, to lead astray.
"The Devil hath power
• Manage. Management.
"I commit to your hands The husbandry and manage of my house."
Shakspere. The Merchant of Venice. iii. 4.
upon absurdly; care1 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 unready 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,2 but content themselves with a mediocrity of success. Certainly it is good to compound employments of both; for that will be good for the present, because the virtues of either age may correct the defects of both; and good for succession, that young men may be learners, while men in age are actors; and, lastly, good for extern 3 accidents, because authority followeth old men, and favour and popularity youth. But for the moral part, perhaps youth will have the pre-eminence, as age hath for the politic. A certain rabbin, upon the text, Your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams, inferreth that young men are admitted nearer to God than old, because vision is a clearer revelation than a dream. And certainly, the more a man drinketh of the world, the more it intoxicateth: and age doth profit 5 rather in the powers of understanding, than in the virtues of the will and affections. There be some have an over-early ripe
1 Care not to innovate, are not careful how they innovate, that is to say, young men are incautious, heedless.
3 Extern. External.
"And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions." Joel ii. 28.
5 Profit. To improve. "Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all." I. Timothy iv. 15.
ness in their years, which fadeth betimes. These are, first, such as have brittle wits, the edge whereof is soon turned; such as was Hermogenes1 the rhetorician, whose books are exceeding subtle; who afterwards waxed stupid. A second sort is of those that have some natural dispositions which have better grace in youth than in age; such as is a fluent and luxuriant speech; which becomes youth well, but not age: so Tully saith of Hortensius,2 Idem manebat, neque idem decebat.3 The third is of such as take too high a strain at the first, and are magnanimous more than tract of years can uphold. As was Scipio Africanus,5 of whom Livy 6 saith in effect, Ultima primis cedebant."
1 Hermogenes, of Tarsus, in Cilicia, lived in the second half of the second century, A.D. He was a noted Greek rhetorician, and is said to have lost his memory at the age of twenty-five.
2 Quintus Hortensius, 114-50 B.C., an eminent Roman orator and contemporary of Cicero, who said of him: "Sed quum iam honores et illa senior auctoritas gravius quiddam requireret, remanebat idem nec decebat idem." Marcus Tullius Cicero. Brutus. Caput 95.
3 He remained the same, but the same was no longer becoming. Vivacity which increases with age is little short of folly. La vivacité qui augmente en vieillissant ne va pas loin de la folie. Maximes et Réflexions Morales du duc de La Rochefoucauld. 416. 4 Tract. Course.
"My fancies all be fledde:
And tract of time begins to weave,
Tottel's Miscellany. The aged lover renounceth love. Lord Vaux. This is the ballad from which Shakspere took the gravedigger's song in Hamlet. v. 1.
5 Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus Major, 234-183 (?) B.C., a great Roman general, who defeated the Carthaginians under Hannibal in the battle of Zama, 202 B.C.
• Titus Livius, 59 B.C. to 17 A.D., a great Roman historian. wrote a history of Rome, from the founding of the city to the death of the Roman general Nero Claudius Drusus, brother of Tiberius, 9 B.C. The work consisted of 142 books, of which 35 are extant, 1-10, and 21-45.
The last fell short of the first. Bacon's three Latin words condense fourteen of Livy's. "Vir memorabilis, bellicis tamen quam pacis artibus memorabilior, prima pars vitae quam postrema fuit.”
XLIII. OF BEAUTY.
VIRTUE is like a rich stone, best plain set; and surely virtue is best in a body that is comely, though not of delicate features; and that hath rather dignity of presence, than beauty of aspect. Neither is it almost1 seen, that very beautiful persons are otherwise of great virtue; as if nature were rather busy not to err, than in labour to produce excellency.2 And therefore they prove accomplished, but not of great spirit; and study rather behaviour than virtue. But this holds not always: for Augustus Cæsar, Titus Vespasianus, Philip le Bel3 of France, Edward the Fourth of England, Alcibiades of Athens, Ismael the Sophy of Persia, were all high and great spirits; and yet the most
T. Livii Patavini Historiarum Ab Urbe Condita Liber XXXVIII. Caput 53. He probably recollected the thought, "in effect," not from Livy, but from Ovid:
"Coepisti melius, quam desinis: ultima primis
P. Ovidii Nasonis Heroides.
Epistola IX. Deianira Herculi.
"Alonso of Arragon was wont to say, in commendation of age, That age appeared to be best in four things: Old wood to burn; old wine to drink; old friends to trust; and old authors to read." Bacon. Apophthegmes New and Old. 97 (75).
1 Almost. For the most part.
2 Excellency. Excellence. "Ascribe ye strength unto God: his excellency is over Israel, and his strength is in the clouds." Psalms lxviii. 34.
3 Philippe le Bel, 'Philip the Fair,' Philippe IV. of the House of Capet, 1268-1314, King of France from 1285 to 1314.
Edward IV., 1441-1483, King of England, 1461-1483.
5 Alcibiades, 450(?)-404 B.C., an Athenian politician and general, nephew of Pericles. He was rich, handsome, accomplished, and an admirable orator, but reckless and unsteady in character.
• Ismail I., Shah (Sophy) of Persia, 1487-1524, founder of the Suffarian dynasty.