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xx. Of Counsel.;
HE greatest Trust between Man and
mit the parts of life, their Lands, their Goods, their Children, their Credit, some particular Affair, but to such as they make their Counsellors they commit the whole : by how much the more, they are obliged to all Faith and Integrity. The wisest Princes need not think it any Diminution to their Greatness, or Derogation to their Sufficiency to rely upon Counsel. God himself is not without; but hath made it one of the great Names, of his blessed Son, The Counsellor.. Solomon hath pronounced that In Counsel is Stability. 3 Things will have their first or second Agitation ; if they be not tossed upon the Arguments of Counfel, they will be tossed upon the Waves of Fortune ; and be full of Inconftancy, doing and undoing, like the Reeling of a drunken Man. Solomon's Son found the Force of Counsel, as his Father saw the Necessity of it: for the beloved Kingdom of God was first rent and broken by ill Counsel; upon which Counsel there are set for our Instruction the two Marks whereby Bad Counsel is for ever best difcerned: that it was young Counsel for the Persons ; and violent Counsel for the Matter.
See Antitheta, No. 44. 3 Proverbs xx. 18.
* Isaiah ix. 6.
The ancient Times do set forth in Figure both the Incorporation and inseparable Conjunction of Counsel with Kings, and the wise and politic use of Counsel by Kings: the one, in that they say Jupiter did marry Metis, which signifieth Counsel; whereby they intend that Sovereignty is married to Counfel: the other, in that which followeth, which was thus: They say, after Jupiter was married to Metis, she conceived by him and was with Child; but Jupiter suffered her not to stay till she brought forth, but eat her up; whereby he became himself with Child, and was delivered of Pallas Armed, out of his Head.5 Which monstrous Fable containeth a Secret of Empire; how Kings are to make use of their Counsel of State : that first, they ought to refer Matters unto them, which is the first Begetting or Impregnation ; but when they are elaborate, moulded and shaped in the Womb of their Council, and grow ripe and ready to be brought forth, that then they suffer not their Council to go through with the Resolution and Direction, as if it depended on them; but take the Matter back into their own Hands, and make it appear to the World, that the Decrees and final Directions (which, because they come forth with Prudence and Power, are resembled to Pallas Armed) proceeded from themselves, and not only from their Authority, but(the more to add Reputation to themselves) from their Head and Device.
Let us now speak of the Inconveniences of Counsel, and of the Remedies. The Inconveniences, that
5 Hefiod. Theog. 886. See De Sap. Vet. XXI.
have been noted in calling and using Counsel are three. First, the Revealing of Affairs, whereby they become less Secret. Secondly, the Weakening of the Authority of Princes, as if they were less of themselves. Thirdly, the Danger of being unfaithfully counselled, and more for the good of them that counsel than of him that is counselled : for which Inconveniences, the Doctrine of Italy, and Practice of France in fome Kings' times, hath introduced Cabinet Councils ;6 a Remedy worse than the Disease.
As to Secrecy; Princes are not bound to communicate all Matters with all Counsellors, but may extract and select : neither is it necessary that he that consulteth what he should do, should declare what he will do: but let Princes beware that the unfecreting of their Affairs comes not from themselves. And as for Cabinet Councils, it may be their Motto, Plenus rimarum fum :7 one futile person that maketh it his glory to tell will do more Hurt than many that know it their Duty to conceal.
It is true, there be some Affairs which require extreme Secrecy, which will hardly go beyond one or two Persons besides the King: neither are those Counsels unprosperous; for besides the Secrecy, they commonly go on constantly in one Spirit of Direction without Distraction : but then it must be a prudent King, such as is able to grind with a Hand-Mill ;8 and those inward Counsellors
By “ Cabinet Councils” Bacon means private meetings of selected advisers in the privy chamber of the king. 9 Terent. Eun. J. ii. 25.
That is, without a complicated machinery of government.
had need also be Wise Men, and especially true and trusty to the King's Ends; as it was with King Henry the Seventh of England, who in his greatest Business imparted himself to none, except it were to Morton, and Fox.
For Weakening of Authority; the Fable sheweth the Remedy. Nay the Majesty of Kings is rather exalted than diminished when they are in the Chair of Council : neither was there ever Prince bereaved of his Dependencies by his Council, except where there hath been either an Overgreatness in one Counsellor, or an Overstrict Combination in divers; which are Things soon found and holpen.
For the last Inconvenience, that Men will Counsel with an Eye to themselves; certainly, Non ine veniet Fidem fuper terram, 10 is meant of the Nature of Times, and not of all particular Persons. There be that are in Nature faithful and sincere, and plain and direct; not crafty and involved : let Princes, above all, draw to themselves such Natures. Besides, Counsellors are not commonly so united, but that one Counsellor keepeth Sentinel over another ; so that if any do Counsel out of Faction or private Ends, it commonly comes to the King's Ear. But the best Remedy is, if Princes know their Counsellors, as well as their Counsellors know Them:
Principis eft Virtus maxima nose suos.11 And on the other side, Counsellors should not be too
9 i. e. the fable of Jupiter and Metis. 10 Luke xviii. 8. 11 Martial, viii. 15.
speculative into their Sovereign's Person. The true Composition of a Counsellor is rather to be skilful in their Master's Businels, than in his Nature; for then he is like to advise him, and not to feed his Humour. It is of fingular use to Princes if they take the Opinions of their Council both separately and together; for private Opinion is more free, but Opinion before others is more reverend. In private, Men are more bold in their own Humours; and in confort, Men are more obnoxious to 18 others' Humours; therefore it is good to take both: and of the inferior Sort rather in private, to preserve Freedom; of the greater, rather in confort, to preserve Respect. It is in vain for Princes to take Counsel concerning Matters, if they take no Counsel likewise concerning Persons; for all Matters are as dead Images ; and the Life of the Execution of Affairs resteth in the good Choice of Persons. Neither is it enough to consult concerning Perfons, fecundum Genera, as in an Idea or Mathematical Description, what the kind and Character of the Person should be ; for the greatest Errors are committed, and the most Judgement is shown, in the choice of Individuals. It was truly faid, Optimi Confiliarii mortui ; 13 Books will speak plain, when Counsellors blanch ; 14 therefore it is good to be conversant in them ; specially the Books of such as themselves have been Actors upon the Stage.
12 Obnoxious to, i. e. liable to opposition from.
13 Alonzo of Arragon was wont to say of himself, that he was a great necromancer; for that he used to ask counsel of the dead, meaning books. Apophthegms, No. 105.
or blench is to shy or shrink from anything.
14 To blan