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those things which of themselves they are desirous to utter.
It is a point of cunning, to let fall those words in a man's own name which he would have another man learn and use, and thereupon take advantage. I knew two that were competitors for the secretary's place, in Queen Elizabeth's time, and yet kept good quarter between themselves, and would confer one with another upon the business; and the one of them said, that to be a secretary in the declination of a monarchy was a ticklish thing, and that he did not affect it: the other straight caught up those words, and discoursed with divers of his friends, that he had no reason to desire to be secretary in the declining of a monarchy. The first man took hold of it, and found means it was told the queen; who, hearing of a declination of monarchy, took it so ill, as she would never after hear of the other's suit.
There is a cunning, which we in England call “The turning of the cat in the pan;" which is, when that which a man says to another, he lays it as if another had said it to
him; and, to say truth, it is not easy, when such a matter passed between two, to make it appear from which of them it first moved and began.
It is a way that some men have, to glance and dart at others by justifying themselves by negatives; as to say, "This I do not;" as Tigellinus did towards Burrhus, se non diversas spes, sed incolumitatem imperatoris simpliciter spectare."
Some have in readiness so many tales and stories, as there is nothing they would insinuate, but they can wrap it into a tale; which serveth both to keep themselves more on guard, and to make others carry it with more pleasure.
It is a good point of cunning for a man to shape the answer he would have in his own words and propositions; for it makes the other party stick the less.
It is strange how long some men will lie in wait to speak somewhat they desire to say; and how far about they will fetch, and how
many other matters they will beat over to come near it it is a thing of great patience, but yet of much use.
A sudden, bold, and unexpected question doth many times surprise a man, and lay him open. Like to him, that, having changed his name, and walking in Paul's, another suddenly came behind him and called him by his true name, whereat straightways he looked - back.
But these small wares and petty points of cunning are infinite, and it were a good deed to make a list of them; for that nothing doth more hurt in a state than that cunning men pass for wise.
But certainly some there are that know the resorts and falls of business, that cannot sink into the main of it; like a house that hath convenient stairs and entries, but never a fair room: therefore you shall see them find out pretty looses in the conclusion, but are no ways able to examine or debate matters: and yet commonly they take advantage of their
inability, and would be thought wits of direction. Some build rather upon the abusing of others, and (as we now say) putting tricks upon them, than upon the soundness of their own proceedings: but Solomon saith, "Prudens advertit ad gressus suos: stultus divertit ad dolos."
Wisdom for a Man's self.
An ant is a wise creature for itself, but it is a shrewd thing in an orchard or garden; and certainly men that are great lovers of themselves waste the public. Divide with reason between self-love and society; and be so true to thyself, as thou be not false to others, especially to thy king and country. It is a poor centre of a man's actions, himself. It is right earth; for that only stands fast upon its own centre; whereas all things that have affinity with the heavens, move upon the centre of another, which they benefit. The referring of all to a man's self, is more toler
able in a sovereign prince, because themselves are not only themselves, but their good and evil is at the peril of the public fortune: but it is a desperate evil in a servant to a prince, or a citizen in a republic; for whatsoever affairs pass such a man's hands, he crooketh them to his own ends; which must needs be often eccentric, to the ends of his master or state: therefore let princes, or states, choose such servants as have not this mark; except they mean their service should be made but the accessary. That which maketh the effect more pernicious is, that all proportion is lost; it were disproportion enough for the servant's good, to be preferred before the master's; but yet it is a greater extreme, when a little good of the servant shall carry things against the great good of the master: and yet that is the case of bad officers, treasurers, ambassadors, generals, and other false and corrupt servants; which set a bias upon their bowl, of their own petty ends and envies, to the overthrow of their master's great and important affairs: and, for the most part, the good such servants receive is after the model of their own fortune; but the hurt they sell for