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bladders or rushes; but, after a time, let him practise with disadvantages, as dancers do with thick shoes ; for it breeds great perfection, if the practice be harder than the use. Where nature is mighty, and therefore the victory hard, the degrees had need be, first, to stay and arrest nature in time, like to him that would say over the four and twenty letters when he was angry; then to go less in quantity; as if one should, in forbearing wine, come, from drinking healths, to a draught at a meal; and lastly, to discontinue altogether; but if a man have the fortitude and resolution to enfranchise himself at once, that is the best :
Optimus ille animi vindex, lædentia pectus
Vincula qui rupit, dedoluitque semel. Neither is the ancient rule amiss—to bend nature, as a wand, to a contrary extreme, whereby to set it right; understanding it, where the contrary extreme is no vice. Let not a man force a habit upon himself with a perpetual continuance, but with some intermission : for both, the pause reinforceth the new onset: and if a man that is not perfect be ever in practice, he shall as well practise his errors as his abilities, and induce one habit of both; and there is no means to help this, but by seasonable intermission. But let not a man trust his victory over his nature too far; for nature will lie buried a great time, and yet revive upon the occasion of temptation. Like as it was with Æsop's damsel, turned from a cat to a woman, who sat very demurely at the board's end, till a mouse ran before her. Therefore let a man either avoid the occasion altogether, or put himself often to. it, that he may be little moved with it. A man's nature is best perceived in privateness ; for there is no affectation in passion; for that putteth a man out of his precēpts, and in a new case or experiment; for there custom leaveth him. They are happy men whose natures sort with their vocations ; otherwise they may say, Multum incola fuit anima mea, when they converse in those they do not affect. In studies, whatsoever a man commandeth upon himself, let him set hours for it; but whatsoever is agreeable to his nature, let him take no care for any set times; for his thoughts will fly to it of themselves; so as the spaces of other business or studies will suffice. A man's nature runs either to herbs or weeds: therefore, let him seasonably water the one, and destroy the other.
OF YOUTH AND AGE, A man that is young in years may be old in hours, if he have lost no time; but that happeneth rarely. Generally, youth is like the first cogitations, not so wise as the second; for there is a youth in thoughts, as well as in ages: and yet, the invention of young men is more lively than that of old ; and imaginations stream into their minds better, and, as it were, more divinely. Natures that have much heat, and great and violent desires and perturbations, are not ripe for action till they have passed the meridian of their years; as it was with Julius Cæsar, and Septimus Severus; of the latter of whom it is said, Juventutem egit erroribus, imo furoribus plenam; and yet, he was the ablest Emperor almost of all the list. But reposed natures may do well in youth ; as it is seen in Augustus Cæsar, Cosmos duke of Florence, Gaston de Fois, and others. On the other side, heat and vivacity in age is an excellent composition for business. Young men are fitter to invent than to judge, fitter for execution than for counsel, and fitter for new projects than for settled business ; for the experience of age, in things that fall within the compass of it, directeth them, but in new things abuseth them. The errors of young men are the ruin of business ; but the errors of aged men amount but to this, that more might have been done, or sooner. Young men, in the conduct and manage of actions, embrace more than they can hold, stir more than they can quiet, fly to the end without consideration of the means and degrees, pursue some few principles which they have chanced upon absurdly, care not to innovate, which draws unknown inconveniences; use extreme remedies at first, and, that which doubleth all errors, will not acknowledge or retract them; like an unready horse, that will neither stop nor turn. Men of age object too much, consult too long, adventure too little, repent too soon, and seldom drive business home to the full period, but content themselves with a mediocrity of success. Certainly, it is good to compound employments of both; for that will be good for the present; because the virtues of either age may correct the defects of both; and good for succession, that young men may be learners, while men in age are actors: and lastly, good for external accidents, because authority followeth old men, and favour and popularity youth. But, for the moral part, perhaps, youth will have the pre-eminence, as age hath for the politic. A certain Rabbin, upon the text, “ Your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams," inferreth, that young men are admitted nearer to God than old, because vision is a clearer revelation tharr a dream. And, certainly, the more a man drinketh of the world, the more it intoxicateth ; and age doth profit rather in the powers of understanding than in the virtues of the will and affections. There be some have an over-early ripeness in their years, which fadeth betimes: these are, first, such as have brittle wits, the edge whereof is soon turned: such as was Hermogenes the rhetorician, whose books are exceeding subtle; who afterwards waxed stupid. A second sort is of those that have some natural dispositions which have better grace in youth than in age; such as is affluent and luxuriant speech, which becomes youth well, but not age: so Tully saith of Hortensius, Idem manebat, neque idem decebat. The third is, of such as take too high a strain at the first, and are magnanimous more than tract of years can uphold; as was Scipio Africanus; of whom Livy saith in effect, Ultima primis cedebant.
STUDIES serve for delight, for ornament, and for ability. Their chief use, for delight, is in privateness and retiring; for ornament, is in discourse; and for ability, is in the judgment and disposition of business. For, expert men can execute, and perhaps judge of particulars one by one; but the general counsels, and the plots, and marshalling of affairs, come best from those that are learned. To spend too much time in studies, is sloth; to use them too much for ornament, is affectation; to make judgment wholly by their rules, is the humour of a scholar. They perfect nature, and are perfected by experience ; for natural abilities are like natural plants, that need pruning by study; and studies themselves do give forth directions too much at large, except they be bounded in by experience. Crafty men contemn studies, simple men admire them, and wise men use them: for they teach not their own use; but that is a wisdom without them, and above them, won by observation. Read not to contradict. and confute, nor to believe and take for granted, nor to find talk and discourse, but to weigh and consider. Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts; others to be read, but not curiously; and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention. Some books also may be read by deputy, and extracts made