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that good is after the model of their master's fortune: and certainly it is the nature of extreme self-lovers, as they will set an house on fire, and it were but to roast their eggs and yet these men many times hold credit with their masters, because their study is but to please them, and profit themselves; and for either respect they will abandon the good of their affairs.
Wisdom for a man's self is, in many branches thereof, a depraved thing: it is the wisdom of rats, that will be sure to leave a house sometime before it fall: it is the wisdom of the fox, that thrusts out the badger, who digged and made room for him: it is the wisdom of crocodiles, that shed tears when they would devour. But that which is specially to be noted is, that those which (as Cicero says of Pompey) are," sui amantes sine rivali,” are many times unfortunate; and whereas they have all their time sacrificed to themselves, they become in the end themselves sacrifices to the inconstancy of fortune, whose wings they thought by their self-wisdom to have pinioned.
As the births of living creatures at first are ill-shapen, so are all innovations, which are the births of time; yet, notwithstanding, as those that first bring honour into their family are commonly more worthy than most that succeed, so the first precedent (if it be good) is seldom attained by imitation; for ill, to man's nature as it stands perverted, hath a natural motion strongest in continuance; but good, as a forced motion, strongest at first. Surely every medicine is an innovation, and he that will not apply new remedies must expect new evils; for time is the greatest innovator; and if time of course alter things to the worse, and wisdom and counsel shall not alter them to the better, what shall be the end? It is true, that what is settled by custom, though it be not good, yet at least it is fit; and those things which have long gone together, are, as it were, confederate within themselves; whereas new things piece
not so well; but, though they help by their utility, yet they trouble by their inconformity: besides, they are like strangers, more admired, and less favoured. All this is true, if time stood still; which, contrariwise, moveth so round, that a froward retention of custom is as turbulent a thing as an innovation; and they that reverence too much old times, are but a scorn to the new. It were good, therefore, that men, in their innovations, would follow the example of time itself, which indeed innovateth greatly, but quietly, and by degrees scarce to be perceived; for otherwise, whatsoever is new is unlooked for; and ever it mends some, and pairs others; and he that is holpen takes it for a fortune, and thanks the time; and he that is hurt for a wrong, and imputeth it to the author. It is good also not to try experiments in states, except the necessity be urgent, or the utility evident; and well to beware that it be the reformation that draweth on the change, and not the desire of change that pretendeth the reformation; and, lastly, that the novelty, though it be not rejected, yet be held for a suspect; and, as the scripture saith, "That
we make a stand upon the ancient way, and then look about us, and discover what is the straight and right way, and so to walk in it."
AFFECTED dispatch is one of the most dangerous things to business that can be: it is like that which the physicians call predigestion, or hasty digestion; which is sure to fill the body full of crudities, and secret seeds of diseases: therefore measure not dispatch by the time of sitting, but by the advancement of the business: and as, in races, it is not the large stride, or high lift, that makes the speed; so, in business, the keeping close to the matter, and not taking of it too much at once, procureth dispatch. It is the care of some only to come off speedily for the time, or to contrive some false periods of business, because they may seem men of dispatch: but it is one thing to abbreviate by contracting, another by cutting off; and busi
ness so handled at several sittings, or meetings, goeth commonly backward and forward in an unsteady manner. I knew a wise man, that had it for a by-word, when he saw men hasten to a conclusion, Stay a little, that we may make an end the sooner."
On the other side, true dispatch is a rich thing; for time is the measure of business, as money is of wares; and business is bought at a dear hand where there is small dispatch. The Spartans and Spaniards have been noted to be of small dispatch: "Mi venga la muerte de Spagna;" "Let my death come from Spain," for then it will be sure to be long in coming.
Give good hearing to those that give the first information in business, and rather direct them in the beginning, than interrupt them in the continuance of their speeches; for he that is put out of his own order will go forward and backward, and be more tedious while he waits upon his memory, than he could have been if he had gone on in his own course: but sometimes it is seen that the