So are there a number of little, and scarce discerned virtues, or rather facul- ties and customs, that make men fortunate. The Italians note some of them, such as a man would little think. When they speak of one that cannot do amiss, they will throw in, into his other conditions, that he hath Poco di matto. And certainly there be not two more fortunate properties, than to have a little of the fool, and not too much of the honest. Therefore extreme lovers of their country or masters, were never fortunate, neither can they be. For when a man placeth his thoughts without himself, he goeth not his own way. An hasty for- tune maketh an enterpriser and remover (the French hath it better, entreprenant, or remuant); but the exercised fortune maketh the able man. Fortune is to be honored and respected, and it be but for her daughters, Confidence and Reputation. For those two, Felicity breedeth; the first within a man's self, the latter in others towards him. All wise men, to decline the envy of their own virtues, use to ascribe them to Providence and Fortune; for so they may the better assume them: and, besides, it is greatness in a man, to be the care of the higher powers. So Caesar said to the pilot in the tempest, Caesarem portas, et fortunam ejus. So Sylla chose the name of Felix, and not of Magnus. And it hath been noted, that those who ascribe openly too much to their own wisdom and policy, end infor- tunate. It is written that Timotheus the Athenian, after he had, in the account he gave to the state of his government, often interlaced this speech, and in this, Fortune had no part, never prospered in anything, he undertook afterwards. Certainly there be, whose fortunes are like Homer's verses, that have a slide and easiness more than the verses of other poets; as Plutarch saith of Timoleon's for- tune, in respect of that of Agesilaus or Epaminon- das. And that this shoulld be, no doubt it is much, in a man's self.

Of Usury

MANY have made witty invectives against usury. They say that it is a pity, the devil should have God's part, which is the tithe. That the usurer is the greatest Sabbath-breaker, because his plough goeth every Sunday. That the usurer is the drone, that Virgil speaketh of;

Ignavum fucos pecus a praesepibus arcent.

That the usurer breaketh the first law, that was made for mankind after the fall, which was, in sudore vultus tui comedes panem tuum; not, in sudore vultus alieni. That usurers should have orange-tawny bonnets, because they do judaize. That it is against nature for money to beget money; and the like. I say this only, that usury is a conces- sum propter duritiem cordis; for since there must be borrowing and lending, and men are so hard of heart, as they will not lend freely, usury must be permitted. Some others, have made suspicious and cunning propositions of banks, discovery of men's estates, and other inventions. But few have spoken of usury usefully. It is good to set before us, the incommodities and commodities of usury, that the good, may be either weighed out or culled out; and warily to provide, that while we make forth to that which is better, we meet not with that which is worse.

The discommodities of usury are, First, that it makes fewer merchants. For were it not for this lazy trade of usury, money would not he still, but would in great part be employed upon merchan- dizing; which is the vena porta of wealth in a state. The second, that it makes poor merchants. For, as a farmer cannot husband his ground so well, if he sit at a great rent; so the merchant cannot drive his trade so well, if he sit at great usury. The third is incident to the other two; and that is the decay of customs of kings or states, which ebb or flow, with merchandizing. The fourth, that it bringeth the treasure of a realm, or state, into a few hands. For the usurer being at certainties, and others at uncer- tainties, at the end of the game, most of the money will be in the box; and ever a state flourisheth, when wealth is more equally spread.

Please Support the Classic Literature Library

Buy Francis Bacon Books from Amazon.com

The Essays Page 52

Francis Bacon

16th Century Literature

Free Books in the public domain from the Classic Literature Library ©

Francis Bacon
Classic Literature Library
Classic Authors

All Pages of This Book