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Ceremonies and Respects.
He that is only real, had need have exceeding great parts of virtue; as the stone had need to be rich that is set without foil: but if a man mark it well, it is in praise and commendation of men, as it is in gettings and gains: for the proverb is true, "That light gains make heavy purses;" for light gains come thick, whereas great come but now and then: so it is true, that small matters win great commendation, because they are continually in use and in note: whereas the occasion of any great virtue cometh but on festivals: therefore it doth much add to a man's reputation, and is, (as Queen Isabella said,) like perpetual letters commendatory, to have good forms: to attain them, it almost sufficeth not to despise them; for so shall a man observe them in others; and let him trust himself with the rest; for if he labour too much to express them, he shall lose their grace; which is to be natural and unaffected.
Some men's behaviour is like a verse, wherein every syllable is measured; how can a man comprehend great matters, that breaketh his mind too much to small observations? Not to use ceremonies at all, is to teach others not to use them again; and so diminisheth respect to himself; especially they are not to be omitted to strangers and formal natures: but the dwelling upon them, and exalting them above the moon, is not only tedious, but doth diminish the faith and credit of him that speaks: and, certainly, there is a kind of conveying of effectual and imprinting passages amongst cmopliments, which is of singular use, if a man can hit upon it. Amongst a man's years, a man shall be sure of familiarity; and therefore it is good a little to keep state: amongst a man's inferiors, one shall be sure of reverence; and therefore it is good a little to be familiar. He that is too much in any thing, so that he giveth another occasion of society, maketh himself cheap. To apply oneself to others, is good; so it be with demonstration, that a man doth it upon regard, and not upon facility. It is a good precept, generally in seconding another, yet
to add somewhat of one's own: as if you will grant his opinion, let it be with some distinċtion; if you will follow his motion, let it be with condition; if you allow his counsel, let it be with alleging farther reason. Men had need beware how they be too perfect in compliments; for be they never so sufficient otherwise, their enviers will be sure to give them that attribute, to the disadvantage of their greater virtues. It is loss also in business to be too full of respects, or to be too curious in observing times and opportunities. Solomon saith, "He that considereth the wind shall not sow, and he that looketh to the clouds shall not reap." A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds. Men's behaviour should be like their apparel, not too strait or point device, but free for exercise or motion.
PRAISE is the reflection of virtue, but it is as the glass, or body, which giveth the reflection; if it be from the common people, it is commonly false and nought, and rather followeth vain persons than virtuous: for the common people understand not many excellent virtues: the lowest virtues draw praise from them, the middle virtues work in them astonishment or admiration; but of the highest virtues they have no sense or perceiving at all; but shows and " species virtutibus similes," serve best with them. Certainly, fame is like a river, that beareth up things light and swollen, and drown things weighty and solid; but if persons of quality and judgment concur, then it is (as the scripture saith,)" Nomen bonum instar unguenti fragrantis;" it filleth all round about, and will not easily away; for the odours of ointments are more durable than those of flowers. There be so many false points of praise, that
a man may justly hold it in suspect. Some praises proceed merely of flattery; and if he be an ordinary flatterer, he will have certain common attributes, which may serve every man; if he be a cunning flatterer, he will follow the arch-flatterer, which is a man's self, and wherein a man thinketh best of himself, therein the flatterer will uphold him most: but if he be an impudent flatterer, look wherein a man is conscious to himself that he is most defective, and is most out of countenance in himself, that will the flatterer entitle him to perforce, Spreta conscientia." Some praises come of good wishes and respects, which is a form due in civility to kings and great persons, "laudando præcipere;" when by telling men what they are, they represent to them what they should be: some men are praised maliciously to their hurt, thereby to stir envy and jealousy towards them; "pessimum genus inimicorum laudantium;" insomuch as it was a proverb amongst the Grecians, that "He that was praised to his hurt, should have a push rise upon his nose;" as we say, that a blister will rise upon one's tongue that tells a lie;