(19) Weigh also that excellent taxation of an error, ordinary with counsellors of princes, that they counsel their masters according to the model of their own mind and fortune, and not of their masters. When upon Darius' great offers Parmenio had said, "Surely I would accept these offers were I as Alexander;" saith Alexander, "So would I were I as Parmenio."

(20) Lastly, weigh that quick and acute reply which he made when he gave so large gifts to his friends and servants, and was asked what he did reserve for himself, and he answered, "Hope." Weigh, I say, whether he had not cast up his account aright, because hope must be the portion of all that resolve upon great enterprises; for this was Caesar's portion when he went first into Gaul, his estate being then utterly overthrown with largesses. And this was likewise the portion of that noble prince, howsoever transported with ambition, Henry Duke of Guise, of whom it was usually said that he was the greatest usurer in France, because he had turned all his estate into obligations.

(21) To conclude, therefore, as certain critics are used to say hyperbolically, "That if all sciences were lost they might be found in Virgil," so certainly this may be said truly, there are the prints and footsteps of learning in those few speeches which are reported of this prince, the admiration of whom, when I consider him not as Alexander the Great, but as Aristotle's scholar, hath carried me too far.

(22) As for Julius Caesar, the excellency of his learning needeth not to be argued from his education, or his company, or his speeches; but in a further degree doth declare itself in his writings and works: whereof some are extant and permanent, and some unfortunately perished. For first, we see there is left unto us that excellent history of his own wars, which he entitled only a Commentary, wherein all succeeding times have admired the solid weight of matter, and the real passages and lively images of actions and persons, expressed in the greatest propriety of words and perspicuity of narration that ever was; which that it was not the effect of a natural gift, but of learning and precept, is well witnessed by that work of his entitled De Analogia, being a grammatical philosophy, wherein he did labour to make this same Vox ad placitum to become Vox ad licitum, and to reduce custom of speech to congruity of speech; and took as it were the pictures of words from the life of reason.

(23) So we receive from him, as a monument both of his power and learning, the then reformed computation of the year; well expressing that he took it to be as great a glory to himself to observe and know the law of the heavens, as to give law to men upon the earth.

(24) So likewise in that book of his, Anti-Cato, it may easily appear that he did aspire as well to victory of wit as victory of war: undertaking therein a conflict against the greatest champion with the pen that then lived, Cicero the orator.

(25) So, again, in his book of Apophthegms, which he collected, we see that he esteemed it more honour to make himself but a pair of tables, to take the wise and pithy words of others, than to have every word of his own to be made an apophthegm or an oracle, as vain princes, by custom of flattery, pretend to do. And yet if I should enumerate divers of his speeches, as I did those of Alexander, they are truly such as Solomon noteth, when he saith, Verba sapientum tanquam aculei, et tanquam clavi in altum defixi: whereof I will only recite three, not so delectable for elegancy, but admirable for vigour and efficacy.

(26) As first, it is reason he be thought a master of words, that could with one word appease a mutiny in his army, which was thus: The Romans, when their generals did speak to their army, did use the word Milites, but when the magistrates spake to the people they did use the word Quirites. The soldiers were in tumult, and seditiously prayed to be cashiered; not that they so meant, but by expostulation thereof to draw Caesar to other conditions; wherein he being resolute not to give way, after some silence, he began his speech, Ego Quirites, which did admit them already cashiered--wherewith they were so surprised, crossed, and confused, as they would not suffer him to go on in his speech, but relinquished their demands, and made it their suit to be again called by the name of Milites.

Francis Bacon
Classic Literature Library
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