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intentions are published, it is an alarm to call up all that are against them: the second is, to reserve to a man's self a fair retreat; for if a man engage himself by a manifest declaration, he must go through, or take a fall: the third is, the better to discover the mind of another; for to him that opens himself men will hardly show themselves averse; but will (fair) let him go on, and turn their freedom of speech to freedom of thought; and therefore it is a good shrewd proverb of the Spaniard, "Tell a lie and find a troth;" as if there were no way of discovery but by simulation. There be also three disadvantages to set it even; the first, that simulation and dissimulation commonly carry with them a show of fearfulness, which, in any business, doth spoil the feathers of round flying up to the mark; the second, that it puzzleth and perplexeth the conceits of many, that, perhaps, would otherwise co-operate with him, and makes a man walk almost alone to his own ends; the third, and greatest, is, that it depriveth a man of one of the most principal instruments for action, which is trust and belief. The best composition and tempe
rature is, to have openness in fame and opinion; secrecy in habit; dissimulation in seasonable use; and a power to feign, if there be no remedy.
Parents and Children.
THE joys of parents are secret, and so are their griefs and fears; they cannot utter the one, nor they will not utter the other. Children sweeten labours, but they make misfortunes more bitter; they increase the cares of life, but they mitigate the remembrance of death. The perpetuity by generation is common to beasts; but memory, merit, and noble works, are proper to men: and surely a man shall see the noblest works and foundations have proceeded from childless men, which have sought to express the images of their minds, where those of their bodies have failed; so the care of posterity is most in them that have no posterity. They that are
the first raisers of their houses are most indulgent towards their children, beholding them as the continuance, not only of their kind, but of their work; and so both children and creatures.
The difference in affection of parents towards their several children, is many times unequal, and sometimes unworthy, especially in the mother; as Solomon saith, " A wise son rejoiceth the father, but an ungracious son shames the mother." A man shall see, where there is a house full of children, one or two of the eldest respected, and the youngest made wantons; but in the midst some that are as it were forgotten, who, many times, nevertheless, prove the best. The illiberality of parents, in allowance towards their children, is an harmful error; and makes them base; acquaints them with shifts; makes them sort with mean company; and makes them surfeit more when they come to plenty; and therefore the proof is best when men keep their authority towards their children, but not their purse. Men have a foolish manner, (both parents, and
schoolmasters, and servants,) in creating and breeding an emulation between brothers during childhood, which many times sorteth to discord when they are men, and disturbeth families. The Italians make little difference between children and nephews, or near kinsfolks; but so they be of the lump they care not, though they pass not through their own body; and, to say truth, in nature it is much a like matter; insomuch that we see a nephew sometimes resembleth an uncle, or a kinsman, more than his own parents, as the blood happens. Let parents choose betimes the vocations and courses they mean their children should take, for then they are most flexible; and let them not too much apply themselves to the disposition of their children, as thinking they will take best to that which they have most mind to. It is true, that if the affection, or aptness, of the children be extraordinary, then it is good not to cross it; but generally the precept is good, "optimum elige, suave et facile illud faciet consuetudo." Younger brothers are commonly fortunate, but seldom or never where the elder are disinherited.
Marriage and Single Life.
HE that hath wife and children hath given hostages to fortune; for they are impediments to great enterprizes, either of virtue or mischief. Certainly the best works, and of greatest merit for the public, have proceeded from the unmarried or childless men; which, both in affection and means, have married and endowed the public. Yet it were great reason that those that have children should have greatest care of future times, unto which they know they must transmit their dearest pledges. Some there are, who though they lead a single life, yet their thoughts do end with themselves, and account future times impertinences; nay, there are some other that account wife and children but as bills of charges: nay more, there are some foolish rich covetous men, that take a pride in having no children, because they may be thought so much the richer; for, perhaps, they have heard some talk, "Such an one is a great rich man," and another except to it,