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 advan- tage. 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 busi- ness; and the one of them said, That to be a secre- tary, 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 dis- coursed with divers of his friends, that he had no reason to desire to be secretary, in the declination of a monarchy. The first man took hold of it, and found means it was told the Queen; who, hearing of a declination of a 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 nega- tives; as to say, This I do not; as Tigellinus did towards Burrhus, Se non diversas spes, sed incolu- mitatem 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 in 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 mat- ters 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 cun- ning, 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 re- sorts 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 con- clusion, 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 soundness of their own proceed- ings. But Solomon saith, Prudens advertit ad gres- sus suos; stultus divertit ad dolos.
Of 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; specially to thy king and country. It is a poor centre of a man's actions, him- self. It is right earth. For that only stands fast upon his own centre; whereas all things, that have af- finity with the heavens, move upon the centre of another, which they benefit. The referring of all to a man's self, is more tolerable in a sovereign prince; because themselves are not only them- selves, but their good and evil is at the peril of the public fortune. But it is a desperate evil, in a ser- vant 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 ser- vants, as have not this mark; except they mean their service should be made but the accessory. That which maketh the effect more pernicious, is that all proportion is lost.