« AnteriorContinuar »
1. To deceive men's expectations generally with cautel, argueth a staid mind, and unexpected constancy : viz. in matters of fear, anger, sudden joy, or grief, and all things which may affect or alter the mind in public or sudden accidents, or such like.
2. It is necessary to use a steadfast countenance, not wavering with action, as in moving the head or hand too much, which sheweth a fantastical, light, and fickle operation of the spirit, and consequently like mind as gesture : only it is sufficient, with leisure, to use a modest action in either.
3. In all kinds of speech, either pleasant, grave, severe, or ordinary, it is convenient to speak leisurely, and rather drawingly, than hastily; because hasty speech confounds the memory, and oftentimes, besides unseeiliness, drives a man either to a nonplus or unseemly stammering, harping upon
that which should follow ; whereas a slow speech confirmeth the memory, addeth a conceit of wisdom to the hearers, besides a seemliness of speech and countenance.
SHORT NOTES FOR CIVIL CONVERSATION.
4. To desire in discourse to hold all arguments, is ridiculous, wanting true judgment; for in all things no man can be exquisite.
5, 6. To have common places to discourse, and to want variety, is both tedious to the hearers, and shows a shallowness of conceit: therefore it is good to vary, and suit speeches with the present occasions ; and to have a moderation in all our speeches, especially in jesting of religion, state, great persons, weighty and important business, poverty, or any thing deserving pity.
7. A long continued speech, without a good speech of interlocution, sheweth slowness: and a good reply, without a good set speech, showeth shallowness and weakness.
8. To use many circumstances, ere you come to the matter, is wearisome; and to use none at all, is but blunt.
9. Bashfulness is a great hindrance to a man, both. of uttering his conceit, and understanding what is propounded unto him; wherefore it is good to press himself forwards with discretion, both in speech and company of the better sort.
Usus promptos facit.
Bacon's collection of Apophthegms, though a sick man's task, ought not to be regarded as a work merely of amusement ; still less as a jest-book. It was meant for a contribution, though a slight one, towards the supply of what he had long considered as a desideratum in literature. In the Advancement of Learning he had mentioned Apophthegms with respect, along with Orations and Letters, as one of the appendices to Civil History ; regretting the loss of Cæsar's collection ; " for
! as for those which are collected by others (he said) either I have no taste in such matters, or their choice hath not been happy. This was in 1605. In revising and enlarging that treatise in 1623, he had spoken of their use and worth rather more fully.
They serve (he said) not for pleasure only and ornament, but also for action and business ; being, as one called them, mucrones verborum, — speeches with a point or edge, whereby knots in business are pierced and severed. And as former occasions are continually recurring, that which served once will often serve again, either produced as a man's own or cited as of ancient authority. Nor can there be any doubt of the utility in business of a thing which Cæsar the Dictator thought worthy of his own labour ; whose
1 Advancement of Learning, Book II. T 9.